29 March 2014 16:42

 Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides was in Moscow Friday for talks – a high-level visit that was not even announced in Nicosia which voted against Russia in the UN over the Ukraine crisis a day earlier.
A statement from the Russian Ministry after a meeting between Kasoulides and his counterpart Sergey Lavrov said the two officials had discussed the destruction of Syria's chemical arsenal.
“The officials also discussed Russian-Cypriot bilateral relations,” added the statement.
However, insiders in Nicosia said Kasoulides was keener to assure Moscow that relations between the two countries should not be jeopardised over the situation in Crimea.
Lavrov did tell journalists before the talks resumed yesterday morning that the issue of Ukraine would certainly be discussed.
"Certainly we will discuss what is going on in Ukraine, around Ukraine, in Crimea and I hope that the situation will be accepted with the sense of reality by our European partners,” Lavrov said in English.
He added: "It's a good opportunity for us to exchange views on the bilateral relations, they are developing quite well. We have a number of new agreements being negotiated and we have quite a number of other things to discuss including the settlement of the Cyprus issue."
Cash-strapped Cyprus depends heavily on Russian tourism as substantial capital from the vast country is deposited in the island’s banks. The banking sector nearly collapsed a year ago.
Nicosia is in a very difficult position over the Ukraine issue which is similar to the Cyprus problem but also because as an EU member state it has to toe the bloc’s foreign policy line.
On Thursday, Cyprus voted against Russia in the UN General Assembly in New York prompting an immediate reaction by House President Yiannakis Omirou.
“Despite the parliament’s appeal, the government has voted against the resolution on Crimea and has substantially joined a cold war game that Cyprus has absolutely no place,” he said.
“Apparently, the government chose to ignore the unwanted consequences of this action, disappointing the Russian Federation - a traditionally friendly country,” he added.
Omirou also said that Russia – as well as the former Soviet Union – have stood by the Cyprus Republic’s side for many decades now.
The House leader dismissed arguments that the Crimea issue is similar to the Cyprus problem saying Greek Cypriots were violently uprooted from their homes in the occupied north. The Russians, though, were always living in Crimea.


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