Cyprus parliament adopt resolution on lifting EU bans on Russia

July 8, 2016 9:00 am

Cypriot lawmakers participate in a parliamentary session in Nicosia. ©Reuters

The parliament in has
adopted a resolution urging the government to help pave the way for the
removal of European Union sanctions imposed on over its alleged
role in the Ukraine crisis.

The resolution drafted by
members of the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) was supported
by 33 MPs out of 54, with 17 abstentions. No one voted against the
resolution.
The document said the anti-Moscow embargoes “have
negatively affected trade and economic relations between Cyprus and
Russia during a period of continuing economic crisis.”

Referring
to the ongoing standoff between Russia and the West over the deadly
conflict in Ukraine, the resolution said sanctions had
proven “counterproductive and in no way helped to resolve the crisis in
Ukraine.”

The lawmakers also called for the
implementation of Minsk peace deal reached last year between Kiev and
the pro-Moscow forces operat

Meanwhile, the Russian
Foreign Ministry has welcomed the vote, saying it reflected “the will of
a sweeping majority of the people of Cyprus to restore mutually
beneficial commercial and economic ties with Russia.”

Nicosia enjoys close relations with Moscow as a sizeable Russian community lives on the Mediterranean island.
On July 1, the EU formally extended anti-Russia sanctions by six months until the end of January 2017.
Russian
President Vladimir Putin has also responded to the EU decision with
signing a decree to extend the existing embargo on imports of
agricultural produce, dairy, meat and most other foods from the West
until December 31, 2017.
This is while major EU powers are now
divided over the future of the sanctions policy towards Moscow. NATO
wants the economic sanctions to remain on Russia until Moscow “changes
its behavior” regarding the conflict in Ukraine.
However, German
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has recently slammed NATO for
its bellicose policy towards Russia and urged the Western military
alliance to consider lifting the anti-Moscow bans in phases.
His
French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault also called on EU leaders to hold
talks on possible offers for the easing of anti-Moscow bans if there is
progress in the implementation of the peace deals on Ukraine.
The
West’s sanctions against Russia were initially introduced after the
Black Sea Crimean Peninsula declared independence from Ukraine and voted
for reunification with the Russian Federation in March 2014.
Washington
and its European allies accuse Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine. Moscow,
however, rejects having a hand in the crisis gripping the Eastern
European state.
Ukraine’s eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk
have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow forces and the
Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April 2014 to
crush pro-Moscow protests there. The crisis has left around 9,400 people
dead and over 22,000 others injured.

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