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Russia-Cyprus eye military agreement renewal
February 14, 2015, 4:45 am

The British envoy to Cyprus has said the agreement is not in line with the EU's common policies on Russia [Xinhua]

The British envoy to Cyprus has said the agreement is not in line with the EU’s common policies on Russia [Xinhua]

Cyprus and Russia initialized a new cooperation protocol on Friday, local media reported.

Several agreements will be signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades when the latter visits Moscow on Feb. 25.

Cypriot Finance Minister Haris Georgiades said the protocol is a reaffirmation of close relations between the two countries.

Russian Federation Deputy Minister for Economic Development Nicolai Podguzov said the protocol “lays the foundation for expanded cooperation in the sectors of trade, energy, tourism, education, science, agriculture”.

Cooperation agreements in the sectors of commercial shipping and telecommunications will also be signed.

“We have drafted a very important package and have prepared the ground to a large extent for the signing of the protocol by the two presidents,” Podguzov told Cypriot state television.

The two sides are also expected to renew a military cooperation agreement during the President’s visit.

Greek Cyprus’ offer to allow Russia the use of air and navy bases on its territory, has already elicited a strong reaction from Britain’s Ambassador to Cyprus.

Britain’s High Commissioner Rick Todd said in an interview this week, characterized by an unusual lack of diplomatic tact, that Cyprus has to consider that extending Russia’s facilities is not in line with the European Union’s common policies on Russia.

Greek Cyprus had announced the country is ready to host Russia at its aviation and naval bases, marking a split with its fellow EU members.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades replied that he would not think of making diplomatic suggestions to Britain and also played down the importance and the scope of the military agreement.

Anastasiades asked the envoy to avoid using “baseless” words.

“There is an old [defense] agreement, which should be renewed as is. At the same time, some additional services will be provided in the same way as we do with other countries, such as, for example, with France and Germany,” the Greek Cypriot president reportedly said. “Cyprus and Russia have traditionally had good relations, and this is not subject to change,” he said.

He said that the renewed agreement will offer Russia what other countries, including Britain, already enjoy, “perhaps excessively.”

Britain has two military bases in Cyprus, one of which is considered to be one of the most important air and electronic bases supporting NATO operations in the region.

Cyprus also provides refueling and maintenance facilities to French planes at Paphos airbase in the western part of the island and port facilities to German warships.

Anastasiades said the same facilities will be offered to Russia.

But analysts believe that Britain would feel uneasy having Russian warships at a breath’s distance from its main Akrotiri air base which is separated by only a wire fence from the port of Limassol, where Russia is also seeking storage space for spare parts.

Facilities to Russian planes will be probably offered at the Paphos airbase, just 40 kilometers to the west.


Source: Agencies

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