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Russia’s Stance on the Cyprus Issue Remains Unchanged

Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Credit:

The Russian Federation has not altered its stance on the Cyprus issue and remains committed to the UN Security Council resolutions relating to Cyprus, the country’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

Zakharova stressed that Russia’s position on the Cyprus settlement stands unaltered. She also mentioned that Russia is committed to the resolutions of the UN Security Council, including 541 of 1983 and 550 of 1984, which stipulate to all members of the international community not to recognize any Cypriot state, except the Republic of Cyprus.

Not a matter of revenge against Greece and Cyprus

Maria Zakharova was asked to clarify her country’s position on the issue of direct flights between Russia and the north of Cyprus. She was also asked to comment on claims expressed by some foreign policy analysts of possible revenge against Athens and Nicosia over EU sanctions.

In response, the foreign ministry spokeswoman said that the needs of Russian citizens, who reside in the territory of Cyprus, are met by the consular department of the embassy in cooperation with the official Cypriot authorities. Yet, she added, improving the possibilities of consular service to Russian citizens located in the north of the island and protecting their legal rights and interests are priorities.

“Unlike the collective West, Moscow does not think in terms of ‘revenge’ or ‘punishment,’” the spokeswoman said.

Noting that “we have given exhaustive clarifications on the issue,” Zakharova recalled statements by Russia’s foreign ministry, the Russian Embassy in Nicosia, the Russian Ambassador to Athens, as well as Press Secretary for the Russian President Dmitry Peskov.

”I am willing to repeat our position as many times as you want,” she added.

On the possibility of direct flights from Russia to the north of Cyprus, she said “I will not reiterate our reaction to the fantasies in the press, which you referred to.”

Cyprus – Russia relations

When Cyprus gained its independence from the United Kingdom on August 16, 1960, the Soviet Union recognized the newly independent state on August 18, 1960. After the end of the Soviet Union, Cyprus acknowledged the Russian Federation as its successor state on  April 7, 1992.

Yet, following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Cyprus joined the EU countries, which imposed sanctions on Russia. As a response, Russia added all EU countries and Cyprus to the list of “unfriendly nations.”

Hundreds of thousands of Russian tourists visit the island each year. Moreover, Cyprus is officially the third largest foreign investor in the Russian economy. Most foreign direct investments from Cyprus are, in fact, Russian capital hidden offshore for tax and legal protection purposes.

Over one hundred billion euros in investments came from Russia in 2020 alone, roughly a quarter of all foreign investments coming into Cyprus.

However, Cyprus’ stand against Russia, in the wake of the Russia – Ukraine war, will potentially affect the relations between the two countries. Banking is one area likely to be affected. At least five people on the EU’s sanctions list have assets in Cypriot banks, according to bank officials. Luxury real estate is another—dozens of high-end apartments will likely now sit unsold. Tourism will also be heavily affected.

“The Cypriot economy is disproportionately affected compared to other countries due to the structure of the Cypriot economy and its reliance on Russian tourists,” Cypriot Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said.

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