Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides, Moscow, October 21, 2021
Ladies and gentlemen,
We had meaningful talks with my Cypriot colleague and friend Nikos Christodoulides. This is already our fourth meeting and by tradition, it took place in a friendly, sincere and trustworthy atmosphere.
Cyprus is our important and time-tested partner. Our country supported the efforts of the Cypriots to uphold their independence in the late 1950s and was one of the first to recognise the independence of Cyprus in August 1960 and open its diplomatic mission there.
Russia-Cyprus cooperation rests on long-standing ties of friendship, and spiritual and cultural affinity. We were pleased to note that our cooperation in a wide range of areas has not stopped even under the conditions of the current sanitary and epidemiological restrictions. We continue our political dialogue, including at the high and highest levels. Regular contacts between Russia and Cyprus confirm the special character of our bilateral relations.
Today, we discussed in detail the implementation of the principled agreements reached during contacts between President Vladimir Putin and President Nicos Anastasiades, including their telephone conversation on July 30, 2020 and meetings between Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin and President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades in Athens on March 24, 2021 on the sidelines of the events devoted to the 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek national-liberation revolution.
We exchanged views on our cooperation on countering the coronavirus pandemic, overcoming its negative consequences and ensuring the epidemiological safety of our people. We have made tangible progress in this regard and will continue building up our useful cooperation in this area.
We welcomed the restoration of business activity and tourism following the resumption of regular air traffic between our countries last June. We supported holding a meeting, as soon as possible, of the working group for joint preparations for the fully-fledged 12th session of the Russian-Cypriot Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation. It is scheduled to take place in Cyprus in the spring of 2022. We agreed that direct contacts between industry-specific agencies, including in the context of preparations for this important session, will help us recover the growth of bilateral trade. We are interested in resuming as soon as possible full-scale work on implementing projects that were planned or launched before the pandemic.
We are continuing to work on updating our contractual legal framework. We have just signed a strategic framework cooperation plan for 2022-2024 and a cooperation agreement on holding humanitarian missions during crises. We appreciate the cooperation with our Cypriot friends in this area, which is periodically confirmed by the visits of Russian naval ships to Cypriot ports.
We agreed to speed up our work on many other documents that are still under negotiation, including talks on an inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in social security.
We have a good level of cultural and humanitarian cooperation, inter-regional, inter-municipal and twin city ties. Russian and Cypriot leaders are paying special attention to this area, given the importance of developing human contacts in line with the aspirations of our peoples. Naturally, we will step up these areas of cooperation when health restrictions are lifted.
As far as international and regional issues are concerned, we have noted successful cooperation at multilateral venues: the UN, OSCE, and the Council of Europe. These contacts will continue. We value agreements with our Cypriot partners on reciprocally supporting candidates during elections to various UN agencies and related organisations.
We have discussed in detail the problem of Cyprus settlement. We have listened to our partners’ assessments that are important to us. We have reaffirmed Russia’s position of principle in favour of achieving a just, viable and comprehensive settlement of the Cypriot problem within the existing international legal framework. We see no alternative to an early restart of the inter-communal negotiating process, which would make it possible to restore the atmosphere of trust between the Cypriot Greek and Turkish communities. We regard unilateral steps in relation to the abandoned Varosha quarter in the city of Famagusta as inadmissible and counterproductive. Both at the UN and in bilateral contacts with all parties concerned, we advocate the creation of favourable external conditions that can help to achieve progress in Cypriot affairs. We have stressed once again that it would be important to have permanent members of the UN Security Council join the discussion of the external aspects of settlement and reaffirmed our position in favour of replacing the current outdated Cyprus security guarantees with new UN Security Council guarantees.
We talked about Russia-EU relations, which have long been in a profound crisis. This is not Russia’s choice. We will be prepared for a resumption of dialogue with the EU based on the principles of equality and mutual regard for each other’s interests. Regrettably, however, our EU colleagues are not ready for this work.
We have exchanged views on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. Russia would like the problems in the region to be solved on the basis of international law, primarily the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. We have discussed the situation in the Middle East and North Africa and the situation in Afghanistan, which has commanded so much attention lately in different formats.
The talks have reaffirmed our mutual commitment to expanding bilateral cooperation. I think the results of our talks will be of use for practical work to be performed by both the foreign ministries and other divisions of the two countries’ governments.