THE AMBASSADOR of the Russian Federation, Stanislav Osadchiy, betrayed his country’s true designs for Cyprus in an interview he gave the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis. Asked about the issue of guarantees, which has been a major talking point, the ambassador declared that “Russia cannot accept NATO guarantees.” Was it any of his country’s business what agreement the two sides would reach on the issue?
It appears the ambassador feels entitled to interfere in Cyprus’ domestic affairs because of the deference consistently extended to him by our government, political parties, and media. Osadchiy has accompanied the Diko leader Nicholas Papadopoulos on a visit to Moscow, which was astonishing. He repeatedly has meetings with Alliance leader Giorgos Lillikas, followed by public statements about the Cyprus problem.
After the latest such meeting, at the end of July, he said, in what sounded very much like a warning to parties that “the positions of the parties are of great interest to the embassy which informs Moscow about these.”
Considering all embassies send reports to their governments about what is going on in the country they are based in, was there any reason for spelling this out other than as a warning to some parties?
It was after this meeting that Osadchiy raised the issue of guarantees, saying: “We would like Cyprus to be a modern state, like all states that don’t have specific guarantees. If they have guarantees these are from international organisations.” He did not mention NATO at the time, leaving the matter to be raised by Akel which declared a few days later that it would never vote for a settlement that came with NATO guarantees.
And now, Osadchiy has decided to come clean about the Russian government’s long-term objective of preventing Cyprus coming under NATO influence because this would limit, if not end, its own influence. During the Cold War an unsolved Cyprus problem suited the Soviets because it maintained the rift between two NATO allies – Greece and Turkey – while now the Putin government would not like to see a settlement that strengthened the island’s ties with an organisation it considers hostile.
This may be a possible explanation for Osadchiy’s close ties with opposition parties, which are against a settlement. Funnily enough, in his interview, the ambassador also said that Russia would support any settlement that was approved by the Cypriot people. But what if the Cypriot people voted for a settlement that included NATO guarantees? He did not reveal what Moscow would do in such a case.