Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told Cyprus that Moscow was ready to help mediate in any talks with Turkey as tensions simmer over energy exploration in the Mediterranean Sea.
Lavrov who is Nicosia since Monday evening said after a meeting with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades: “As far as your relations with Turkey are concerned, we are ready to promote dialogue.
“A dialogue pragmatically based on mutual interests and in search of decisions, which will be fair and based on international law.”
Ankara disputes the rights of Cyprus to explore for natural gas in the sea area around the island, saying that some of the areas infringe on its continental shelf.
Cyprus is divided since 1974 following a Turkish invasion and Ankara has no diplomatic relations with the EU-member island, instead backing the breakaway Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north of the island.
At the same time, Lavrov said there were other matters in the region that were of concern.
He said there were outside players like the USA which tried to create lines “and to contribute to conflict instead of peaceful solutions.”
Lavrov described this as a really sad fact because, he noted, peaceful ways of promoting interests were needed in the region.
Compromise and dialogue were the only solutions that could contribute to a peaceful solution of any situation, he added.
“We are open to the development of the dialogue with our Cypriot friends on the bilateral agenda and international matters.”
Before leaving the Presidential Palace, Anastasiades decorated Lavrov with the Grand Cross of the Order of Makarios III for his contribution in the continuous development of the historical ties between the two countries.
The chief Russian diplomat then went on to a meeting one-on-one with his Cyprus counterpart Nikos Christodoulides.
The two foreign ministers are joined by delegates from both countries, according to an official announcement which also said a review of the full range of Cyprus-Russia bilateral relations would take place.
In addition, the agenda includes an exchange of views – among others – on the Cyprus issue and on the situation in the eastern Mediterranean in light of the latest developments. As well as a discussion on Russia-EU relations and other regional issues.
Around lunchtime, Lavrov and Christodoulides will make statements to the press after signing a plan for consultations for 2021 to 2022.
After touring a photo exhibition dedicated to the 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries in the atrium of the foreign ministry, Christodoulides and Lavrov will attend a working lunch.
Lavrov’s visit comes days after the United States announced a partial lifting of an arms embargo on Cyprus.
The lifting of the US embargo will last for one year – with the possibility of renewal – and applies to non-lethal weapons systems.
US officials have said that the lifting of the embargo will be monitored on an ongoing basis. And that maintaining this state of affairs is contingent on Cyprus denying Russian military vessels access to ports for refuelling and servicing.
At the same time, police are taking increased security measures from the moment Lavrov arrived in Cyprus and traffic on Tuesday will be cut off in some roads in Larnaca and Nicosia.
The public is urged to be patient and follow the instructions of police officers on duty.