NICOSIA -- Bilateral affairs and possible new EU sanctions on Russia over the Crimea crisis will be discussed on Thursday between President Anastasiades and visiting Russian deputy foreign minister Aleksey Yu. Meshkov.
Meshkov, who arrives in Cyprus on Wednesday evening night, will also meet privately with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides followed by political consultation between Moscow and Nicosia delegations.
“The political consultations will take place at the Foreign Ministry…The talks will focus on bilateral issues of cooperation between the two countries, the Cyprus issue, the developments in the Ukraine and other international and regional issues,” an official announcement said.
Meshkov’s visit takes place within the framework of the bilateral protocol for political consultations signed between the two foreign ministries in 1994, it added.
At the same time, Kasoulides dismissed press reports that the Russian official’s visit aims to balance out the high-profile one by US Vice President Joe Biden last week.
The visit was arranged shortly after the Crimea crisis was sparked when Kasoulides flew to Moscow on behalf of the EU to discuss the issue with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, the Foreign Minister told state radio.
“That was before we knew Mr Biden was coming to Cyprus. Moscow always has and always will be a strong ally of Cyprus. Nicosia now has also strengthened relations with the US but this doesn’t change our relationship with Russia,” Kasoulides said.
Debt-ridden Nicosia, whose economy would be badly hit by possible new harsher sanctions on Moscow, has made clear that it seeks a political solution to the Crimea crisis.
And that if the EU goes ahead with targeted sanctions, then Cyprus and other smaller Mediterranean countries should be allowed to either exempt themselves or take alternative measures.