Cyprus and Russia: «Work Together and In Focused Fashion»
Arkady DZIUBA | 03.03.2015 | WORLD

Cyprus and Russia: «Work Together and In Focused Fashion»

Europe is obviously involved in Ukraine’s civil conflict. The Minsk accords confirm the fact. But whatever they say in Brussels, Europe has a long way to go before reaching unity on the issue. The 28 states constituting the European Union have to face the problem of bureaucracy. There are contradictions between the «old» and the «young» EU members, Eurosceptics and Atlanticists, etc. The United States enjoys a strong position in Europe. In many cases the US point of view happens to be a decisive factor influencing the decisions taken by Europeans. There are about 60 thousand US troops and 200 nuclear warheads deployed on European soil. Germany is the leading European state. It has commitments before the United States which go back to 1990, the year of Germany’s unification, and 1949 when two German states emerged in Central Europe after WWII. Great Britain represents US interests in Europe. London is adamant to protect the hegemony of Anglo-Saxon world. There are second rate countries which have little economic or military importance, like Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Romania. They are willing to put forward or support international initiatives and ready to provide their territory for anything, let it be US missile defense system, secret CIA prisons or NATO headquarters. 

The European bureaucracy is bloated and slow to react making the EU decision making process very complicated. No matter that, the EU has taken a decision to impose sanctions against Russia. They are still in force. The US has spent too much time and effort to foster the European political elite after WWII; it won’t let it get out of its control, especially if it comes to the issue of strategic importance like the relationship with Russia. True, the sanctions backlash to strike Europe itself almost as heavily as the Russian Federation. Europe cannot overcome the consequences of financial and economic crisis. In some European countries unemployment exceeds 25%. But the dependence on the United States is great, so Europe continues to take decisions «shooting itself in foot», according to Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban. 

It would be naïve to think that in foreseeable future the united Europe will dare to question the principles of transatlantic solidarity. The issue of Ukraine and the sanctions war against Russia initiated by the United States make surface new trends to diversify the European political landscape. This is the background against which Nicos Anastasiades, the President of Cyprus, visited Russia on February 24-27. Cyprus is a small country. It has its own problems. In 1974 the island was effectively partitioned with the northern third inhabited by Turkish Cypriots and the southern two-thirds by Greek Cypriots. Two years ago the country was on the brink of default. It did manage to avoid the worst but it was a narrow escape. Cyprus hosts a British military facility. The island has many commitments to tie it to Brussels, London and Washington. It all restricts the freedom of action, especially when it comes to policy towards Russia. In other words, Cyprus is not China; it is not free enough to have the relationship with Russia it wants. In an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta (a Russian government daily newspaper), the Cypriot President put it bluntly saying that his country is not in the position to openly contradict the European Union and the United States. 

With all the factors limiting the freedom of action he signed a number of important documents during his visit to Russia. The most important of them was an agreement on military-technical cooperation which envisages the use of Cypriot seaports by Russian warships in humanitarian operations and emergencies, as well as anti-terrorist operations. This document got into the spotlight of Western press. But it was not the only result of the visit.

President Anastasiades emphasized that he opposed the idea of sanctions war with Russia. It’s not just a declaration; this point of view is supported by Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Together they constitute a force to reckon with which exerts certain influence on European politics bringing closer the day when such anomaly as anti-Russian economic sanctions will become a thing of the past. It may not happen today, or tomorrow, but the trend is obvious, the sanctions will be finally lifted. 

Talking about the trade over with Cyprus, Russian President Putin said «In 2014, unfortunately, our bilateral trade dropped, mostly due to economic circumstances of the moment, such as the fall in oil and petroleum product prices. The EU’s anti-Russian sanctions and our response measures have also had a negative effect in that exports of agricultural produce from Cyprus to the Russian market have fallen drastically. I am sure, however, that if we work together and in focused fashion, we will succeed in resolving the situation and set our trade back on an upward growth track». These words define the state of bilateral relations in the conditions of sanctions war launched by the European Union. The number of Europeans who refuse to shoot in the foot is growing. The extension of bilateral agenda is an incentive for finding a common language with Russia. The main thing is «to work together and in focused fashion», as President Putin said. 

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