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Cyprus Internet Directory [ ‘Ten out of ten for Medvedev visit’ ]

‘Ten out of ten for Medvedev visit’

Jacqueline Agathocleous

GOVERNMENT and business leaders were yesterday basking in aftermath of the historic visit to the island on Thursday of  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou referred, not only to the significant agreements signed but also the “clear position” of Moscow on the Cyprus problem.

He underlined Medvedev’s view that developing relations between Russia and Turkey would not have an impact on the Cyprus Republic.

“The plans and preparations led to some very significant agreements for the state’s economy in all aspects,” said Stefanou. “And on the other hand, it is also very important from a political point of view that Cyprus has reaffirmed Russia’s principles regarding the Cyprus problem.”

If he was to grade the visit’s success, Stefanou said he would give it “a ten out of ten”.

He added: “While Turkey’s relations with Russia are developing, this creates an opportunity for Russia to influence Turkey on its positions on the Cyprus problem”.

However, ruling party AKEL’s General Secretary, Andros Kyprianou, admitted that it wouldn’t be easy for Russia – or Britain and the US – to influence Turkey into changing its stance on the Cyprus problem.

But he added that Russia could have an important role in efforts to find a solution.

“Before even becoming president, President (Demetris) Christofias had clarified that our efforts should be centred on Russia, not only to offer us support and react in the event that of negative developments at our expense, but also to exercise its influence so that it can have a more important role in efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem,” said Kyprianou.

Russia, he added, is one of the Cypriot people’s basic supports in its battle for freedom and reunification. “We signed a series of agreements with Russia, which reconfirm our dedication to international justice and the UN Charter. And this makes this cooperation even more important.”

He said the visit - as well as future visits by other foreign presidents - confirms the correctness of the government’s foreign policy.

“It was a visit of historical significance, which will be followed by others,” said Kyprianou. “It confirms that Cyprus is not isolated and it has support in the international area.”

Opposition DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades described the visit as “unprecedented”. But he added it wouldn’t be right to gloat, nor to have illusions that Russia would sidestep its own best interests when it comes to Turkey and the Cyprus problem.

Anastassiades said Cyprus should be careful in its relations with fellow EU states, so that it doesn’t create the impression that Christofias was acting as an ambassador for Russia in Europe.

“We are referring the President of a very big country, Russia, a superpower, as it maintains the role it has had since the past,” said Anastassiades. “We need to be quite grounded, understand that it is one thing to deepen, improve and create better opportunities of cooperation with another country and it’s another to feed illusions to the people: meaning that through these agreements, from one moment to the next, this country will forget its big interests to defend or intervene and offer solutions.”

The DISY leader pointed out that Medvedev was extremely wary when referring to Turkey during his visit. “He was very careful in his references to Turkey – in fact absolutely no reference was made. He just assured us that upgrading Russia’s relations with Turkey would not have any consequence on Cyprus. But he never referred to occupying forces; he was very careful.”

Anastassiades added: “I want to specify that you can’t improve relations with one state at the expense of your relations with other states. I don’t think we have a problem here, but we need to be careful of the policies we are supporting in relation with our partners in Europe.”

The President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEVE), Manthos Mavrommatis, said Medvedev’s visit had given Cyprus a comparative advantage on its competitors and financial benefits of this would start being felt soon.

“There is no doubt that signing the agreement for the avoidance of double taxation is a great leap forward, which banishes any uncertainties surrounding this agreement and which has been impeding us for the past two years and could possibly be the reason why in the past couple of years, Cyprus fell behind its competitor countries regarding investments in the Russian Federation,” said Mavrommatis. “This was overcome. But I would say that from a financial point of view, there is another benefit: the presence of the Russian President in Cyprus is a very important event. His presence at the business forum was even more important for us, because it is effectively a vote of confidence by the Russian President himself to Cyprus, an adoption of Cyprus as a channel for investments to the Russian Federation.”

He said this was an advantage that other competitor countries – such as Malta, Luxemburg and Holland – don’t have.

“This is a comparative benefit with great value and we will try to use it in the most appropriate way,” Mavrommatis added. “The image of the Russian president embracing Cypriot businessmen can be compared to nothing.”

Medvedev arrived on the island in the early hours of Thursday morning, where his bulletproof limousine – flown over especially from Russia – transported him to a number of official meetings, among others, with President Christofias, House President Marios Garoyian and Archbishop Chrysostomos.

A number of agreements were signed between the two presidents, including a three-year action plan between the two countries and one to avert double taxation. Medvedev left on Thursday night.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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