Cyprus’ commander-in-chief says Russia forced his country to adopt an EU stance against Moscow, in response to Russian criticism that suggested Europeans were toeing an American line against the Kremlin and Nicosia and Athens were suffering because of it.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was asked by reporters on Thursday to comment on statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who said a day earlier that European leaders and traditional friends Greece and Cyprus were “hasty” in their support for Kiev after Moscow ordered troops into Ukraine last year.
The Republic of Cyprus joined sanctions against Russia in the wake of the latest conflict in Ukraine, after Moscow ordered troops into the former Soviet country in late February 2021.
'It cannot be that [Russia] could expect us to be the stigma of Europe, in other words the dissenters' Anastasiades said
“Perhaps some states, and some unions of member states such as the European Union took the measures,” Anastasiades said.
“But at the same time I would like to point out that the otherwise-friendly country Russia forced us to go along with the collective decisions of the European Union,” the president added.
Cyprus, a European Union member state since 2004, takes part in decisions of an EU Council that acts as the bloc’s collective decision maker, with recent decisions including unprecedented sanctions against Russia in response to the war in Ukraine.
Lavrov on Wednesday accused Europeans of lacking “strategic autonomy” and further suggested that Nicosia and Athens were being “transformed” out of being traditional friends of Russia.
But Anastasiades says Cyprus did not have a choice.
“It cannot be that [Russia] could expect us to be the stigma of Europe, in other words the dissenters,” Anastasiades said.
The outgoing president, who raised eyebrows in Brussels after it emerged that his former law firm had secured golden passports for wealthy Russians, said he wanted to keep friendly relations with Russia.
Anastasiades also praised the “long-lasting stance that Russia took and still takes on the Cyprus Problem,” but also appealed to Russia’s “understanding that there are no options when international law is violated.”