Nicosia will alert the European Commission to its annoyance with the fact that Turkey has not banned Russian aircraft from its airspace, something which also applies to the northern part of Cyprus, Foreign Minister Yiannis Kassoulides said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the House foreign affairs committee, Kasoulides said he is preparing a letter addressed to Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
In it, he will ask the European Commission to take measures against Turkey for the latter’s action in not closing its airspace to Russian planes. This was not acceptable for a country that aspires to join the EU, Kasoulides told MPs.
Ankara’s “audacity” would be encouraged unless it suffers consequences for “playing the role of the sly neutral party,” the minister said.
At the same time, the north of Cyprus is likewise keeping airspace open to Russian planes.
Taking questions from lawmakers, Kasoulides said he did not think this was the right moment to challenge the Russian ambassador over the latter’s remarks on Cyprus joining the EU sanctions against Moscow.
The Russian ambassador had said Cyprus would “regret” its decision not to accept Russian tourists – comments seen as provocative by some here.
Kasoulides said he will eventually raise this matter with the ambassador, but not now so as to “avoid throwing fuel onto the fire.”
Commenting on the Ukraine crisis in general, the chief diplomat said he agrees with the United States’ and Nato’s decision not to provide direct military support to Kyiv, as that might plausibly lead to a world war or even a nuclear holocaust.
A political solution for Ukraine, agreeable to all parties, was what was urgently needed.
Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides, also appearing at the same House committee, said the loss of tourism from Ukraine and Russia this year will likely mean a hit to GDP of 1 to 1.5 per cent.
As for the financial sector, the minister asserted it won’t be unduly impacted because banks here have no exposure to Russian bonds.
But inflation poses the greatest risk to Cyprus, as for the rest of Europe. This was due to reliance on the Russian market for energy and grains.
Petrides said there’s a general consensus that the sanctions against Russia will be effective and that they have had a faster impact than anticipated, given that the rouble has slid 30 per cent against the euro.