The island’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday clarified that the decision in principle by EU Foreign Ministers to suspend the Visa Facilitation Agreement does not mean abrogation or ban on issuing visas to citizens of Russia.

MFA Spokesperson Demetris Demetriou wrote in a Twitter post that the EU Member States continue to retain the right to examine and approve or reject requests for citizens of Russia.

The statement came after Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides earlier in the day said that Cyprus was against a horizontal ban on EU visas for Russian citizens, pointing out that relations between peoples should be maintained, while also drawing attention to the issue of Turkey’s non alignment with EU sanctions, during Wednesday’s informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers (Gymnich) which took place in Prague, under the auspices of the Czech Presidency of the EU.

According to a press release by the Foreign Ministry, during his intervention Kasoulides pointed out that the measures that will be taken need to “turn against the Putin regime, without harming or having negative effects for the Russian people.”

Kasoulides also said that Cyprus was sceptical regarding the possibility of a full and horizontal ban on visas for all Russian citizens and pointed out that there is a need for civil society to continue being in contact.

During the discussion, Kasoulides also stressed that the effectiveness of sanctions “depends on the consistency of their application” and added that “the EU should give due attention to Turkey’s efforts to sidestep sanctions through agreements with Russia”.

Meanwhile, Kasoulides said that Turkey’s attempt to exempt banks and companies from the restrictive measures framework of the EU gives Russia the capability of continuing to get hold of materials that strengthen its defence industry among other industries, according to a Foreign Ministry press release.

Kasoulides called on the EU to be vigilant and monitor the implementation of the Sochi agreements, as well as Turkish actions and agreements between Turkey and Russia.

During a discussion on EU – Africa relations, Kasoulides said that Cyprus fully supports cooperation with African states towards facing security challenges, and underlined the importance of EU adhering to its principle that African problems should be met with African solutions, through the strengthening of African state and economic institutions and without imposing external solutions.

Kasoulides also said that there is a need for solutions for Africa’s food crisis, and on another issue mentioned the need for migrant return agreements with African states.