By Angelos Anastasiou
THE EU’s widening of its blacklist of Russians and Ukrainians, published last Monday, prompted a reaction by the local communist party AKEL, but President Nicos Anastasiades sought to reassure critics by arguing that the confrontation may be in its dying hours.
Monday’s additions of 19 individuals and nine organisations to the list include Russian singer and crooning parliamentarian Iosif Kobzon, also known as the ‘Russian Sinatra’, as well as two deputy defence ministers.
The EU’s decision was announced a day after a ceasefire was agreed and came into force on Sunday.
AKEL focused on the timing in a statement, accusing “some dominant circles within the EU” of not truly seeking peace in the Ukraine.
“In their effort to implement their self-serving plans, our concern is that they may lead things to a full-blown conflict,” the communist party’s spokesman Yiorgos Loukaides said.
“Their main goal is to vindicate their expansionary vision to the East. Not only is no pressure exerted on the Kiev government to implement the Minsk agreement, but Russia is being punished further.”
AKEL’s spokesman criticised the Cyprus government of being complicit to the broader embargo on Russia and urged it to “find the strength to oppose the sanctions policy”.
“It is clear that the Cyprus government has consented to the new sanctions,” he said.
“These actions create a negative impact, not just on the prospects for peace, but on Cyprus’ economy.”
In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency on Wednesday, Anastasiades conceded that sanctions have an economic impact not just on Cyprus but the Union as a whole.
“It is an undisputed fact that the negative developments that resulted in EU sanctions on Russia have hit not just [Cyprus’] agricultural sector, but also the tourist sector, and to a lesser extent, the services sector,” he said.
“The sanctions have not adversely affected Cyprus alone, considering that annual transactions between the EU and Russia exceeded €300bn before the sanctions were imposed.”
Echoing AKEL’s argumentation, Anastasiades conceded that a block of countries – which includes Cyprus – opposing tightening the net around Russia is forming within the EU.
“I want to believe and hope that the ceasefire will help drive home the point that the only way to resolve the Russian-Ukraine crisis is the diplomatic route, and not military action,” he added.
And in a twist that suggested action independent of the EU, Anastasiades linked the effort to overcome the adverse economic impact through bilateral contacts.
“The effort right now focuses on how to limit the damage resulting from the sanctions,” the President said.
“Additionally, my upcoming visit to Russia is not unrelated with the effort to find ways to deal with these negative consequences.”