Vice-president of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas warned on Sunday that the New Democracy government of Greece would not allow Russia to interfere in next year’s presidential elections in Cyprus.

Speaking at the 14th Congress of the New Democracy party in Athens, party member Schinas brought up the possibility of Moscow interference during a scathing attack on Russia’s war in Ukraine, which the “whole European family together with our allies in America and Asia have united against”.

Without mentioning Russia by name, he said there was unity “against the horror of war, against those who kill civilians and make them homeless, those who bomb Orthodox churches and monasteries, who plunder archaeological treasures, who send Islamist fundamentalists to displace ethnic Greeks from Mariupol and the Black Sea, the cradle of new Hellenism”.

Addressing the Disy leader Averof Neophytou, who was attending the congress, Schinas said: “Friend, Averof, I want you to know that we will not let them play games in Cyprus, in the elections for the president of Cyprus.”

New Democracy, he said, would work to keep Cyprus in the West. “Cyprus will remain European and Western and you (Averof) will be the proponent of this big effort and we will be by your side,” said Schinas, the clear implication being that some presidential candidates could have a pro-Moscow agenda.

In a brief address to the congress, Neophytou also referred to Cyprus’ orientation. Cyprus’ struggle for security must go through reunification of the country, he said.

“In parallel, it goes through the establishment of our country’s western orientation and the strengthening of our alliances with Europe and the West.”

Cyprus and Greece had taken a clear position on the war, “a position of principle,” said Neophytou, saying this was dictated “by our conscience, but also our national interest”.

In a dig at the politicians of Cyprus that were equivocating about the Russian invasion, Neophytou added: “Only when you condemn, without asterisks and qualifications, can you demand justice for yourself. Defending the sovereignty of countries and international law is the only correct road.”