European Union countries, like Cyprus, which face economic problems were unlikely to be exempted from Russian retaliatory sanctions, it emerged on Friday, as Nicosia tried to dampen the effects.
Some €13.5 million in Cypriot exports were likely to be affected.
The Russian Embassy in Nicosia is aware of the Cypriot government’s concerns with regard to the decision to ban certain food products from the US, the EU, Australia, Canada and Norway, and will inform Moscow of these concerns, the embassy’s spokesman Sergey Filimonov said.
He told the Cyprus News Agency, excluding certain EU countries facing economic woes, like Cyprus, did not seem to be an option because “EU countries unanimously approved these sanctions against Russia, and therefore Russia’s response will apply to all countries.”
“However, naturally the Cypriot stance during the discussion of these measures in various EU bodies will be considered,” he added.
“We realise that Cyprus may be impacted more than other countries,” Filimonov said.
Commenting on the fact that Cyprus is in the midst of implementing a Troika adjustment programme, Filimonov remarked that “we know and are considering all this.”
He said that relations between Cyprus and Russia remained good.
Filimonov stressed that Moscow’s measures are “retaliatory.”
“Russia didn’t initiate the issue,” he said. “America initiated the issue and painted the Europeans into a corner. They are essentially driving them to suicide, especially with regard to countries like Cyprus that depend heavily on other factors, international trade, IMF assistance and European bodies.”
He pointed out that Moscow’s measures would not hurt the US much because their exports to Russia were 12 times less those of EU countries.
Filimonov added that the measures taken by the EU “hurt Russia’s national interests and it was Russia’s duty to respond to them.”
“These measures will ne in place for a year,” he said, adding that they could be lifted earlier under certain circumstances. “Positive steps by the EU will prompt reciprocal reaction from the Russian side.”
He also commented on the prospect of EU-countries who export such products to Russia being replaced by Asian, African and Latin American countries, noting that “losing a position in a foreign market is very easy, but restoring it is very difficult.”
EU authorities should have considered all this when they decided to take measures against Russia, Filimonov said.
The government expects citrus exports to be affected the most. In 2013 citrus exports to Russia reached €10.7 million. The total export volume that will be affected was around €13.5 million in 2013, including citrus, fish, vegetables, dairy, and fruit.
But the reduced production this year meant the volume would be less, the government said.
Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the government was in touch with the Russian side.
“There is a positive climate in the contacts and we are discussing ways of reducing the effects … considering the friendly relations between the two countries,” Christodoulides said.
The spokesman said the matter was serious bud manageable. Cyprus still had time to seek alternative markets, he said.
“We are waiting to see how the marker will behave at a European level since the retaliatory sanctions affect EU countries in various ways.”