Russian envoy: talks initiative must come from Cyprus parties
By Katerina Nicolaou
Nicosia, Jun 3 (CNA) -- Russian Foreign Ministry Special Representative on Cyprus Leonid Abramov believes that an initiative for the resumption of a Cyprus dialogue must come from the interested parties, adding that previous failures have increased the responsibility of all players involved in this long standing political problem.
In an interview with CNA, Abramov reiterated the Russian commitment to a comprehensive and viable Cyprus settlement and to the principle that the UN Security Council has the main role in the process towards a solution. Referring to Turkey's European perspective, he said that it creates a new environment for a solution of the Cyprus problem.
''We intend to contribute in multiple ways to the effort to create favourable conditions for the promotion of a solution, within the framework of the UN Security Council and through our contacts with representatives of the communities in Cyprus and other interested parties'', Abramov said.
Commenting on developments in the areas occupied by Turkish troops since 1974, after Mehmet Ali Talat became leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, the Russian envoy said ''there are reasons to expect initiatives soon for the resumption of talks'', the success of which will depend on the good will of the interested parties as well as on their readiness to conduct substantive talks.
He said that Russia favours the lifting of barriers in economic relations between the two communities to encourage cooperation and pave the way for a political solution. He underlined that the creation of favourable conditions does not refer only to drafting a negotiations process but also to the ''need to restore faith and readiness for give and take''.
Responding to CNA questions, the Russian official said that the UN sponsored plan for Cyprus, the Annan Plan, could be the basis of a new process, but pointed out that changes, agreed by the Cypriots, need to be made to the plan.
Referring to the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriots, he said that this experience has proven that it is doubtful whether ''a boost from the outside for the resumption of talks, with arbitration and tight deadlines without the appropriate voluntary consent of the sides, can help the promotion of a peace process''.
Leonid Abramov said that the island's accession to the EU has by no means changed ''the most essential feature'', which is the traditionally friendly bilateral relations.
He added however that despite intensive talks with the ten new members of the EU it was not possible to avoid completely the negative consequences, especially in trade and economic relations as well as tourism.
''The introduction of mandatory visas between Russia and Cyprus, despite the important steps taken, has led to the reduction of the Russian tourists in Cyprus'', he noted.
The Russian official believes that an important step will take place with the signing of new agreements concerning visits by citizens from both countries and passports.
He noted that there is a lot of investment from Cyprus to the Russian economy, adding that Cyprus is among Russia's top foreign trade partners.
''Cyprus remains one of the most attractive tourist destinations for Russians. We can easily conclude that both parties are interested in enhancing bilateral relations'', he said.
With regard to Russia's relations with the EU, he said that these are among Moscow's foreign policy top priorities and expressed hope the Cyprus government will support Russia in its effort to establish closer cooperation with the Union.