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29 March, 2023
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Cyprus opposes ban on Russian tourist visas

MFA Permanent Secretary Kornelios Korneliou stated that inhibiting free movement of persons is contrary to EU principles and will oppose Russian tourist visa ban

Source: CNA

Cyprus opposes a ban on tourist visas for Russian citizens, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kornelios Korneliou, said with regards to a proposal expected to be put forward by Baltic countries during the informal Council of EU Foreign Ministers (Gymnich) in Prague.

"We issue visas even for Turkish citizens because we believe in people-to-people contact. In addition to this, there is also the Russian-speaking expatriate community in Cyprus and in other EU states, and with such a measure we will prevent the contact of these Russian citizens with their families and friends. We do not believe that there is merit in such a decision." Germany, Greece and Cyprus take the same stance, he said, "however, we have to wait for the discussion in Gymnich where the balances will become clear."

free movement of persons applies in the EU and it is "contrary to our own principles to prohibit citizens of the Russian Federation from visiting EU member states." -Korneliou

The idea had been proposed in the past, in the context of the European Council, by one Baltic country and was faced with fierce reactions, Korneliou added. He stressed that during informal councils there is preparation for decisions that will be taken at a later stage, that is why Prague’s meeting is very important.

He said that other measures against Russia may be discussed "for as long as the war (in Ukraine) continues, there will be reactions and there will be proposals to strengthen the measures taken against Russia. At the moment, some of our partners are discussing the possibility of banning visas for Russian citizens."

Cyprus FM’s Permanent Secretary noted that free movement of persons applies in the EU and it is "contrary to our own principles to prohibit citizens of the Russian Federation from visiting EU member states."

Korneliou stressed that EU member states acknowledge that the Cyprus government has backed the bloc’s sanctions against Russia, despite the heavy price on its economy, on the other hand, "we are the 'usual suspects' when Russian interests are at stake because of our history with the Russian Federation and the bilateral relations between Cyprus and Russia" he added.

According to Politico website news, there is a growing number of Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian entrepreneurs, mainly from the IT sector, interested in setting up business in Cyprus. Korneliou conceded that there is such an interest, not only from Russian but also from American companies and other companies based in Russia or Belarus, to relocate to Cyprus due to the prevailing situation.

"We are open to welcome any company that would like to operate in Cyprus, always in line with EU directives. Since there is no decision on banning companies from relocating, we would be very happy to see these companies operating in Cyprus " he said.

He stressed that the operation framework of such companies is very strict and thorough checks are carried out. He explained that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs monitors the implementation of the decisions on sanctions taken by the EU against Russia and when there are relevant questions from various services of the Republic of Cyprus, the Ministry proceeds with carrying out the necessary checks.

Asked, finally, to comment on the restoration of Israel-Turkey diplomatic relations, Korneliou said that they are monitoring developments, and noted that for 10 years the relations of the Republic of Cyprus with Israel have been tested and strengthened daily. "We are a member state of the EU, they can rely on us, we are reliable in this relationship and I believe they have every interest in maintaining it", he concluded.

Cyprus  |  Russia  |  tourism  |  sanctions  |  Ukraine

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