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Our View: Anastasiades’ Russia trip left the impression he was eager to please Putin

File photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with President Nicos Anastasiades

NOTHING should surprise us from President Anastasiades any longer. He has become a model of inconsistency in his quest for re-election. It is not only on the Cyprus problem that he has undergone a major transformation. Before his election, he promised to align the country with the West but instead led it into the embrace of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. His visit to Moscow, once again, highlighted his subservience to the Russian president.

Back in 2012, announcing his presidential candidacy, Anastasiades spoke about the “radical redrawing of our foreign policy, which will not be marked by dithering, inconsistency and fixations.” He also said the country would participate with credibility and consistency in all the policies of the EU, in a clear dig at the Christofias presidency’s hostility towards the Union, before adding: “The first priority would be to seek accession to the Partnership for Peace, without ruling out entry into Nato, if the majority of the political forces consent.”

No attempt was made to join Partnership for Peace and. after a brief flirtation with the West, which culminated in the visit of the US Vice President Joe Biden, Anastasiades resumed his predecessor’s shift eastwards. It may have been a coincidence, but this began at about the same time, towards the end of last year, he lost his enthusiasm for the peace process and his commitment to a settlement all but vanished. During his presidency Anastasiades visited Moscow three times, even attending the 70th anniversary celebrations of the end of WWII which were boycotted by all other EU leaders because Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

While in Moscow he also advocated a change of policy by the EU towards Russia, saying that co-operation between Brussels and Moscow on crucial international issues was an imperative. “We should all work to create conditions that will pave the way for full re-establishment and further deepening of EU-Russian relations,” said Anastasiades, in effect, advocating a change of policy by Brussels towards Moscow. Was this how he was participating with credibility and consistency in all the policies of the EU, by siding with a country under EU sanctions?

The impression given was that the Cyprus government is closer to Russia than to its EU partners, something reminiscent of the Christofias years. This is not to say Nicosia should not pursue good relations with Moscow, but there should be limits and caution exercised. We saw neither during Anastasiades’ visit to Moscow during which the overall impression was that our president was eager to please Putin, showing complete disregard for Brussels’ policy and our EU partners, in the process.


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