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Russia’s Lavrov starts working visit in Cyprus

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Nicosia on Thursday that international law should prevail when it comes to imminent gas drilling within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

He was responding to a question about strong speculation over a hot incident in the region by Turkey in July when international firms plan to carry out drills.

“We believe that in such a case there is need for the prevention of violence to be exercised and we do hope that this is the path opted by all,’’ Lavrov told journalists after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasouldies.

Kasoulides said the specific issue was raised during their meeting and that there is mutual understanding that international law should prevail.

Lavrov arrived in Cyprus around 2pm on Thursday for a two-day working visit.

Talks with Kasoulides focused on the Cyprus problem, regional energy developments, the situation in Syria and EU-Russia relations.

Lavrov will also participate in the 127th Session of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers in Nicosia and meet with President Nicos Anastasiades before his departure on Friday.

Lavrov who is accompanied by deputy foreign minister Alexei Meshkov also sat at an official luncheon hosted by Kasoulides.

The two also discussed bilateral relations, cooperation in the economic and legal fields, as well as cooperation in international fora.

On the agenda for discussion during the luncheon were a number of global and regional issues of mutual concern, including Ukraine and “the necessity for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreement”.

On Syria, Kasoulides stressed that Cyprus, the closest EU member state to this country, would like to see a Syrian-led political transition process to establish a democratic, inclusive and representative government by the Syrians, for the Syrians.

Finally, Kasoulides commented on EU-Russia relations, noting that “the current state of relations is beneficial to neither side” and expressed hope for the reevaluation of the situation, leading to a “mutually beneficial reengagement”.

At the same time, Lavrov said that although bilateral trade between Cyprus and Russian has shrunk over the past years, it has picked up significantly in recent months.
On international terrorism, teh Russian official called for a “joint, unified agenda instead of the confrontational policy chosen by several Western countries”.

The fight against terrorism calls for a settlement in the Middle East and Northern Africa, but first and foremost in Syria, he went on.

Speaking about the situation in Ukraine, he said that “we need to thoroughly and fully implement the Minsk package”, he added however that recent action by the Ukrainian authorities shows that “it is either not willing or incapable of doing so”.

Commenting on the state of Russia-EU relations, he said that there is no cause for satisfaction there and noted that cooperation must be based on equal rights and mutual respect. For that to happen, Brussels must stop having a “one-way street game” Lavrov noted.

He further expressed gratitude that Cyprus is part of the group of countries within the EU, advocating normal cooperation between the two sides.

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