Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cyprus Is More Important To Russia Than Greece, But Not This Important | Dances With Bears

By John Helmer, Moscow

The President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades agreed last week with President Vladimir Putin on what is reported in London and Washington to be a military basing agreement with Russia for Russia’s naval and air forces in the Mediterranean. In the aftermath, Putin did all the talking to the press, making it clear, if not explicit, that in current Russian strategy, Cyprus is far more important than Greece.

Returning home to Cyprus on the weekend, Anastasiades has disclosed no papers with his signature, assuring his party supporters – among them, the anti-Russian voter bloc on the island – that so far as military terms are concerned, he has signed nothing new. The Cyprus Mail, an anti-Russian newspaper, called Anastasiades’s trip to the Kremlin a “fizzle”. A source close to the Cyprus presidency comments that the idea of a Russian base agreement in Cyprus “is agitprop. It’s all a lot of bull.”

At the presidential meeting in Moscow on February 25, the Russian and Cyprus records announced that ten agreements were signed. In the Kremlin version, the civil agreements covered “ cooperation to combat drug trafficking and terrorism… a cooperation programme in science, education and culture for 2015-2018…and memorandums of understanding on economic, science and technology cooperation.” According to the Kremlin, there were two military pacts – one on “defence cooperation”, one on “naval cooperation”.

Anastasiades downplayed the significance of both, telling media editors the next day that they have “ to do with the renewal of an existing agreement which has been updated. What is conventionally provided for… is the right of the Russian fleet to get into the port of Limassol, not only for the purposes that was doing [sic] until now, but also with regard to the fight against international terrorism, international piracy, the illegal movement of narcotic drugs, illegal trade and other similar practices.” For Cyprus, he added, “the agreement will not have any financial cost.”

In his press conference with Anastasiades, Putin referred to “the signing of many documents concerning defence cooperation. For example, this pertains to our military ships’ entry into Cyprus ports. These are primarily Russian ships participating in international efforts to fight terrorism, international piracy, etc. First, I do not think that this could be a source of concern for anyone. Second, this is our joint work, and in this respect, we can also discuss the contribution by Cyprus to these joint efforts, and I’m confident they will bring results in those highly important, pressing areas of fighting the threats we face today, including in this region of the world.”

At Putin’s residence all Anastasiades is reported to have said was: “our strategic cooperation is not directed against any other country.”

Complete story at - Cyprus Is More Important To Russia Than Greece, But Not This Important | Dances With Bears

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