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Two days ago there was a meeting at the highest level between the President of Russia Mr. Vladimir Putin and Cyprus President Mr. Nicos Anastasiades. Nine agreements were signed. Experts from Cyprus and Greece share their views on Cyprus-Russia agreements struck on February 26, 2015 with RIAC.

Two days ago there was a meeting at the highest level between the President of Russia Mr. Vladimir Putin and Cyprus President Mr. Nicos Anastasiades. Nine agreements were signed. Experts from Cyprus and Greece share their views on Cyprus-Russia agreements struck on February 26, 2015 with RIAC.

Petros Zarounas

A Cypriot expert on international relations, Executive Security at Council for Geostrategic studies

The outcome of the talks between Russia and Cyprus should be considered as a new positive chapter in the bilateral relations. Both countries got what they urgently needed, a helping hand in times of stress and relative loneliness. Russia is under a growing pressure coming from Europe (EU and Council of Europe) and is received coldly on many international forums. Besides that, Russia is trying to expand its influence in the Eastern Mediterranean (Moscow has recently signed agreements with Egypt and has given full support to Assad regime in Syria).
The Republic of Cyprus is suffering from Turkish aggressive policies and actions in its Exclusive Economic Zone . Unfortunately, Cyprus’s Euro-Atlantic partners haven’t lived up to their promises for solidarity on this issue. Two countries supported each other in the past and through these agreements committed to do the same in every possible way in the future.

Petros Zarounas

Regarding the military bases, it should be stated that there won’t be any kind of Russian naval or air bases on the island. The bilateral agreements signed refer to a granted access of Russian naval units and military aircrafts to Cyprus infrastructure either in case of humanitarian emergency (airports) or within the context of anti-piracy or anti-terror international measures (port of Limassol). Cyprus is committed to providing airports for humanitarian use as its international obligation no matter which country is asking for it. Limassol is already a port of call where Russian naval ships replenish their food, water and fuel on their way to the final destination. Both leaders and especially President Putin underlined that their agreements do not go against any third party or contradict their commitments towards other countries.

As a matter of principle the Government of Cyprus will not recognize the Crimea as a part of the Russian Federation. Cyprus is against any foreign military intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign state such as Ukraine. Cyprus has been a victim of such behavior on the Turkish part. Cypriots believe that the current conflict in Ukraine should be resolved through peaceful negotiations based on the Minsk Protocol. Hostilities terminated, EU will lift anti-Russian sanctions. As an EU country, Cyprus considers Russia as a strategic partner who EU should work out a modus vivendi with. Global problems such as the Islamic extremism, the Iranian nuclear program and others need a joint effort from all countries in order to be solved or at least contain.

Dr Yiorghos Leventis

Director, International Security Forum, Cyprus

Results of President Anastasiades meetings in Moscow can be viewed as a step in the right direction. Renewal and deepening of cooperation in the fields of security and defense, apart from trade, commerce, education and culture, between the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) and the Russian Federation is no doubt a positive development. Global and regional security are indivisible concepts. There cannot be security and therefore stability in a region or the world at large if security for one nation is in shambles at the expense of another. Cyprus is a forty year old victim of Turkish aggression and ongoing occupation of 40 % of its land territory. In October 2014 the RoC experienced yet another aggression designed in neo-Ottoman style in Ankara: the Turkish research vessel Barbaros is meddling in the internationally recognized Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone. Yet the US and the UK – also followed by some other EU partners – effectively deny the right of self-defense to Cyprus by keeping an arms embargo against it.

Yiorghos Leventis

Historically, since Cyprus’ independence (1960) Russia should be credited for not turning down RoC approaches for the purchase of defensive weapons. (A glaring example is the purchase of the S-300 air defence system in 1999 that sadly ended up in Crete.) An island republic at the crossroads of three continents without an air force (the Cypriot armed forces, though in possession of an operational air base in Pafos, do not have a single fighter jet) has been at the mercy of Turkish expansionism. The island’s modest air defense system as well as a good part of its tanks regiments are equipped with purchases from Russia. This essential military hardware is in need of maintenance. EU sanctions on Russia, with which Cyprus, Greece and some other small EU countries strongly disagreed, affect those vital maintenance deals. The military agreement struck in Moscow helps keep the island’s defense structure in shape in the face of the continual Anglo-American refusal to provide any military equipment whatsoever, while at the same time the US sells to Ankara tanks, artillery and other naval hardware with which the latter occupies northern Cyprus and steps up to its provocations in the Cypriot high seas.

The agreement to provide technical assistance to Russian naval vessels and aircraft facilities in Cyprus ports’ and airports in support of the common fight against terrorism bears significance with respect to containing the ISIS menace and other radical Islamic armed groups in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa region). This, importantly, comes at the foot heels of rising evidence of Turkish connivance in support of Islamist extremists operating in Syria: as these lines are being drawn the Cypriot authorities are interrogating three Syrian nationals who have been smuggling vehicles and other equipment through the area under the control of the Turkish Army in Cyprus to the Turkish mainland and into the hands of radical Muslim terrorists in Syria.

In addition, the agreed joint search and rescue operations in the Eastern Mediterranean basin augur well for managing humanitarian crises in our volatile region.

Alexander Th. Drivas

PhD Candidate in International Affairs & East Mediterranean Studies, (University of Peloponnese) Project Coordinator of “Greece, Cyprus, Egypt & Israel: Opportunities and Restrictions of a Mediterranean Coalition” at the International Relations Institute of Athens.

After the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict, the Russian Federation tries to augment its influence in the Eastern Mediterranean. Specifically, Russia tries to keep its role in Syria and to improve the Russo-Turkish relations and to build a military and trade cooperation with Egypt.

Alexander Th. Drivas

The recent Russo-Cypriot talks which were held at a Presidential level have already shown that there is a stable and traditional relationship between Russian Federation and Cyprus. The eight memorandums signed by both sides cover a lot of aspects and dimensions. Although, the signed papers have two important things that need deeper analysis. Firstly, the sound and loud position of Russian Federation concerning the Cypriot Issue. Secondly, the agreement of defense between Russia and Cyprus. According to the second agreement, Cyprus agrees to offer its waters to the Russian Navy.

There is not a common foreign policy in the EU so the states are totally free to choose their bipolar partnerships with Third states. However, Russia and Cyprus decided to focus on fighting terrorism and piracy. Such problems are also crucial for the EU. The agreements consist of two parts. The first one with respect to their formulation and signing and the other one regards their enforcement.

After that, we must cast light upon the second part and wait to examine if the agreements will take place in political reality. The differentiation of Cyprus concerning the sanctions that the EU has posed against Russian Federation depicts a European dilemma which could be summarized as “To have Russia as partner or as an enemy?” There is not only Cyprus that posed doubts about Brussels-lead policy. Hungary, Austria, Italy and Greece raise serious doubts concerning the sanctions-policy of Brussels against Russia.

In conclusion, the most important driver for all these matters between Cyprus and Russia is the Russian-American dialogue concerning the status quo of the Eastern Mediterranean and on wider lever — the so called Greater Middle East.

Prepared by Tatiana Bogdasarova, RIAC web coordinator, and Maria Gurova, RIAC web editor.

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