President Nicos Anastasiades will discuss the fallout in Cyprus from EU sanctions on Russia during his trip to Moscow next week, he told the Cyprus News Agency in a lengthy interview on a range of topics from the economy to gas to the Cyprus issue.
Asked about the impact on Cyprus from the sanctions, and how Nicosia was handling the issue, Anastasiades admitted that agriculture, tourism and to a lesser extent the services sector had taken a hit. Mainly hit has been the island’s citrus exports, losses for which were expected to come in around €10 million.
“Our effort focuses on minimising the negative fallout from the sanctions and my forthcoming visit to Russia could be seen in this context. We shall be discussing ways to handle the situation,” he said.
He also said the sanctions affected not only Cyprus but also the whole of the EU. Prior to the imposition of sanctions the value of annual transactions between Russia and the EU amounted to €300 billion he said.
“I would like to believe that the recently agreed truce in Ukraine will contribute to the understanding that the only means to solve the Russian – Ukraine crisis is through diplomacy,” he said.
The president leaves for Russia on February 24 until February 27.
On the topic of natural gas, Anastasiades conceded that there had been high expectations for reserves in the island’s exclusive economic zone and that they had come up short in some areas.
But he said the fact that the results so far did not meet those high expectations did not mean that natural resources in the EEZ did not exist.
“Without wishing to foster the same high expectations that others had cultivated, I am saying that there is the possibility of discovering sufficient deposits to create expectations for prosperity and see this serve as an incentive for a political settlement,” he said.
Anastasiades warned against allowing hydrocarbons to become a counter-incentive for a solution and referred to recent moves by Turkey, which under the pretext of defending the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, issued a NAVTEX and sent the vessel Barbaros out on explorations in the island’s EEZ.
“Turkey`s actions reverse what I have just described as an incentive for a solution of the Cyprus problem. If the Turkish Cypriots are going to have the right to decide jointly on the management of natural gas resources prior to an agreement on the Cyprus issue, they will also have the right to exert pressure during the negotiations in order to consent to managing natural resources in a way that will satisfy their claims,” he said.
“In my opinion what matters most and would be an answer to all those who are interested in achieving a solution soon but do not take into consideration the problems created by this stance, by the developments we have had to deal with after October 3, is to help in order for the talks on the Cyprus problem to begin again the soonest possible and the soonest reach an agreed solution that would leave no losers and no winners”.
Back on the topic of the economy, Anasatasiades referred to the foreclosures legislation, which has been stalled by parliament.
Cyprus is at present in breach of its bailout programme due to the actions the House. The IMF postponed the disbursement of a €86 million as part of the programme`s sixth tranche amounting to €436 million. The House voted for the suspension of the law on foreclosures of mortgaged immovable properties until March 2.
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem has warned only if the foreclosures hurdle can be overcome the Cypriot adjustment programme can be brought back on track.
Anastasiades stressed that massive foreclosures had not been experienced in other countries applying a similar programme. Additionally, he said, the vulnerable groups were sufficiently protected. The fifth draft bill on insolvency, on which negotiations with the institutions (ECB, Commission, IMF) are underway, will provide sufficient protection not only for the primary residence but also for businesses, small and medium enterprises under certain predetermined terms and criteria, he added.
At the same time Anastasiades criticised the postponement of the law on foreclosures, saying it made Cyprus appear inconsistent with the implementation of the bailout terms.
He believes the economy will restart this year even though there are obstacles. “I strongly believe that we are now at a stage that the restart of the economy should materialise in the current year,” Anastasiades said. (CNA)