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Our View: Supporting Russia would not have served our vital interests

Celebrating the referendum in Crimea

“FOR ONE more time the Anastasiades government turned its back on Russia, which traditionally supports the Cypriot case, on the basis of principles, and defends the vital interests of the Cyprus Republic. Russia as is well-known stood by the Cyprus Republic and defended the continuation of its existence in 2004, when other countries wanted to punish it with the direct trade (between the EU and the north), which is being re-introduced now by the ruling circles of the Europe and the ‘friends’ of Mr Anastasiades in Brussels and the European Peoples’ Party.”

The above was the introduction of a story in the AKEL mouthpiece Haravghi on Monday. It was based on a statement issued by AKEL which slammed the government for co-signing, with the other 26 EU member-states, the resolution about the Ukraine that was submitted to the UN Security Council by the US. Signing the resolution “constitutes an act that could prove damaging for our country and our national cause,” said AKEL, arguing that “the government should not have signed the resolution, citing the vital interests of the country.”

AKEL’s position is not surprising given its fanatical hatred of the unprincipled West. However the arguments its uses are very weak if not false. When has Russia defended the vital interests of the Cyprus Republic? Was it Russia that prevented direct trade between the north and the EU or the Republic as a member of the EU? And how did it defend the continuation of the Republic’s existence in 2004?

As for the claim that Russia has been defending the interests of Cyprus, it is a myth perpetuated by AKEL since the time of the Cold War, when it was taking orders directly from the Soviet Communist Party. It is embraced by most of the political parties because Russia has often helped Cyprus governments change the wording they did not like in Security Council resolutions or vetoed them. But to use this as proof that Russia defends the “vital interests” of Cyprus is a bit excessive. Moscow helps us out because there is no cost and it is a way of standing up to the US and Britain over an inconsequential issue – not because it bases its decision on principles, as AKEL foolishly claims.

The government was absolutely right to sign the resolution, which stipulated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could “not constitute the basis for any change to the regime of Crimea”. The resolution also urged states and international organisations not to recognise any change to the regime of Crimea, based on Sunday’s referendum and to refrain from activities that could be construed as recognition of it. Given the situation in Cyprus, it would have been absurd for the Anastasiades government not to have signed the resolution. This would have been tantamount to supporting the recognition of breakaway regimes annexed by other countries.

But such is its hatred of the West, AKEL could not see that supporting Russia in the case of Crimea was neither a principled stand nor did it serve the vital interests of the Republic.

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