Cyprus Mail

Kasoulides called out over Brussels absence during Russia debate

Foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides defended his decision saying that he had prior engagments to meet

THE LEADER of the Citizens Alliance Giorgos Lillikas yesterday called out foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides, accusing him of deliberately missing a meeting of EU foreign ministers that was discussing the bloc’s policy toward Russia.

“Mr. Kasoulides has once again shown himself to be inadequate and incapable of placing national interests over his pro-US and pro-NATO fixations,” Lillikas said in a statement.

At Thursday’s meeting in Brussels, the EU-28 foreign ministers were debating extending current sanctions and imposing broader ones on Russia, amid escalating violence in Ukraine.

The 28 ministers are expected to ask diplomats to come up with a series of sanctions proposals within the next two weeks, so they can be considered at an EU summit on February 12.

According to Lillikas, Kasoulides had intentionally chosen to stay away from the Brussels meet in order “not to upset his so-called ‘strategic partners’, the United States…he is ducking the debate so that, later on, he can claim that the decision [to impose sanctions on Russia] was taken in his absence.”

Lillikas went on to wonder whether the President endorsed Kasoulides’ actions.

“This administration is not only incapable of defending our national interests, it has become dangerous,” the politician said.

Lillikas, who formerly served as foreign minister, has repeatedly claimed that the government’s heavy pro-West policy is costing Russian support to Cyprus.

He said moreover that Kasoulides’ reason for not going to Brussels was lame.

Kasoulides said he had prior engagements, including playing host to Albania’s foreign minister, due to arrive on Friday.

The chief diplomat defended his reason for not travelling to Belgium, suggesting his attendance was not absolutely necessary as the EU foreign ministers were not expected to take decisions.

Any concrete decisions would be taken on February 12 at the EU summit, Kasoulides said.

In a statement responding to Lillikas, Kasoulides called the attacks against him “personal and unethical.”

“It is an unethical and uncalled-for act of rage, replete with epithets, which I do not deign to comment further on,” Kasoulides added.

Given the current juncture with regard to the Cyprus issue, diplomacy requires delicate and balanced handling, the foreign minister said.

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