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Putin: Russia's policy regarding Cyprus problem remains unchanged
2006-01-31 11:51:06

Nicosia, Jan 31 (CNA) -- Russia’s policy regarding Cyprus settlement ''has remained unchanged, but we would like very much all the participants in this process – Turkey, the northern part of the island, Greece, and the Republic of Cyprus, as a whole – should have trust in what Russia does'', Russian President Vladimir Putin told a press conference in the Kremlin on Tuesday.

''It is for people inhabiting the island to make decisions about their destiny'', he said adding, ''we hope that compromises acceptable to the north and the south of Cyprus will be found''.

According to the Russian News Agency Itar Tass, President Putin expressed belief ''the northern part shows the striving for settlement quite clearly''.

''This deserves to be encouraged in any case, in the sphere of our joint economic activity, without upsetting the balance of interests and our relations either with Greece, with which we have very close relations over centuries, or with Cyprus,'' he added.

Putin also expressed the wish that Cyprus, upon entering the Schengen zone, should still re-establish the visa-free regime for Russian citizens, so they could freely visit the island for vacations, as they did earlier.

''I believe restoration of the visa-free regime for Russian citizens is in the interests of Cyprus economy in view of a huge stream of Russian tourists who take pleasure in vacationing in Cyprus, also in its Greek part'' the Russian President said.

''We ask our Cyprus partners, as well as our friends and colleagues in Brussels to give thought to this. This will be no violation of the Schengen rules'', Putin concluded.

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