President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias (retranslated): Mr President, friends,
I would like to express a special joy and excitement about our meeting today here at the presidential palace. It is with deep emotion, respect and sincere friendship that I welcome you to Cyprus on behalf of all the Cypriot people.
Your historic visit to our island crowns the five decades of excellent relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the Russian Federation, and is an important milestone, which will determine the course of future relations between our two nations.
Dear friends, President Medvedev and I had an opportunity to review key aspects of our cooperation and to discuss our plans for the future.
The outcome of our negotiations is reflected in the documents signed today, including a joint statement on the 65th anniversary of the victory over Nazism. These documents signify a new dynamic of the wide-ranging political, economic and cultural ties between our two countries.
Fifteen agreements and memoranda of cooperation were underpinned by a strategy document which President Medvedev and I have signed and which defines our joint efforts for the coming three years at the bilateral and multilateral levels in all spheres without exception. I would like to specially note that in developing this important document all ministries and departments of the Republic of Cyprus cooperated effectively with the total of 43 ministries and agencies of the Russian Federation. This fact clearly indicates the depth of our cooperation on the level of individual agencies.
It gives me great satisfaction to note a powerful dynamic of deepening and expanding the existing ties in economy, trade, tourism and mutual investments between Russian and Cypriot business communities. As you know, the Cyprus- Russia Business Forum is being held now with great success with the participation of a large number of Russian businesspeople who arrived from Russia on the occasion of President Medvedev’s visit to Cyprus.
Signing the Protocol to the Agreement on Avoiding Double Taxation is an important event that will promote further development of economic ties between the Republic of Cyprus and the Russian Federation.
Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
This is an opportunity for me to express once again from this rostrum the deep gratitude of the Cypriot people for the stable and principled position of the Russian Federation on the Cyprus issue, which is based on respect for international law, the UN Charter and relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.
Russia’s sincere concern for the Cyprus problem and its practical support in the search for mutually acceptable solutions in the interests of all Cypriots, both Greek and Turkish, is clearly reflected in the Joint Programme of Action for 2010–2013, which the Russian President and I signed today. It stipulates support for our efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem without imposed schedules or arbitration, a solution that will involve the transformation of the unitary state into a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single and indivisible sovereignty, single citizenship and single international personality, with political equality, as defined by relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. The support of the Russian Federation, a country that is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is invaluable for us.
We also discussed President Medvedev’s proposal on concluding a new European Security Treaty. We reaffirmed Cyprus’ positive view of the proposal, and together with the Russian President expressed our support for a constructive and equitable cooperation with our partners in order to create an open and reliable integrated security system in the Euro-Atlantic region.
President Medvedev and I have also noted that our views on all current international issues are identical or very close and have expressed our firm intention to continue our constructive cooperation at all forums.
I would like to congratulate everyone on the Cypriot and Russian side who has contributed to the success of this historic visit.
Mr President, on behalf of the Cypriot people, I once again express my gratitude for the constant, consistent and principled support of the Russian Federation in the struggle we are waging for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus.
I wish the Russian people a bright future, a future that is associated with prosperity and social progress, and to you personally I would like to wish good health, strength and wisdom to achieve the goals set in your demanding work. Our friendship will live and grow forever.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President Demetris Christofias, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to especially thank our distinguished hosts and Mr President personally for the opportunity to make this visit because it is taking place in such beautiful surroundings. And of course, I completely agree, this is a special date, a special milestone in the development of Russian-Cypriot relations. This is due to the fact that our cooperation is more than 50 years old, and, of course, the fact that the official visit of the Russian leader is taking place this year.
We have achieved a number of important goals during the visit, and I hope we can continue in this vein throughout the day. The documents we have just signed speak for themselves. Here they are, a total of 15 documents, some of them have great significance, such as the Joint Programme of Action for 2010–2013, which is a detailed plan describing all aspects of our cooperation. These are political documents that unite us and show that our positions are similar or identical, as Mr President said, including the declaration on the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II. It is a series of documents relating to business and the economy, including the agreement on the financial sector, which has already been mentioned.
Russian people like to visit Cyprus, they love their holidays here and they enjoy the business opportunities presented by the Republic of Cyprus. That is why today we signed the new version of the Agreement on Avoiding Double Taxation. That is why many Russian companies choose Cyprus as the jurisdiction for financing major international transactions.
The scope of our bilateral ties has been growing. This year, it posted excellent growth, which is a good sign. Today Mr President and I discussed many new opportunities for expanding cooperation. Of course, cooperation is always a two-way street. That is why we have here such a large delegation of Russian companies that do business in Cyprus. Today we are going to participate in another momentous event. A Russian bank, one of the biggest Russian banks, is opening here a new branch that will not only provide support for various business transactions but also retail services to the people who live here. That is a sign of the strength of our economic ties.
Mr President and I discussed international issues, regional problems, global challenges and, of course, the Cyprus settlement.
I told Mr President that the position of the Russian Federation remains unchanged and we will do everything to help solve this problem and achieve a result, and achieve it in a peaceful way, without any jolts or excessive impulses, but peacefully, as it should be done in the international community. The objective is what Mr President said: a single state, which has a single international personality and a single sovereignty.
Our nations are linked by a long shared history, spiritual rapport, friendship and genuine mutual interest. I am confident that the current visit of the President of the Russian Federation will promote the development of friendly relations between our countries.
I would like to thank Mr President for his hospitality, for the wonderful weather and for the perfectly organised news conference set amid lemon trees.
Demetris Christofias: A little clarification of [the translation]. Mr President said: ”… with a single sovereignty and a single international personality.“
Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, that’s what I said.
Question: I have a question for the President of Cyprus. Did you discuss today the issue of simplifying the visa rules for Russian and Cypriot citizens, the visa rules between Russia and the EU, and what is Cyprus ready to do to make it easier for Russians to come to visit?
Demetris CHRISTOFIAS: Of course we discussed this matter. It interests both countries very much. Furthermore, we want to help Russia achieve the goal of visa-free travel with the EU countries, and I am confident that we can make consistent steps in that direction.
Question: I have a question for the Russian President. We know that Russia is not just a large country but is a large country that is a big power, including in the energy sector. We are all following Russia’s efforts to develop relations with other countries, including Turkey, and this is obviously a matter of interest to Cyprus. In what ways could this jeopardise Russia’s position on the Cyprus question, and Russian-Cypriot relations in general?
Dmitry MEDVEDEV: I can say quite frankly that there is no threat here for Cyprus. Our relations will remain just as friendly and mutually beneficial, and Russia will not change its position regarding the Cyprus question. This position is that Cyprus must be a single sovereign state with two communities. I hope this will be translated correctly.
We will continue to work towards this goal.
Question: My question is for both presidents.
We know that Cyprus is one of the biggest investors in Russia, but it is also no secret that most of this investment has Russian origins, and in many cases we cannot completely vouch for this money’s cleanness. How big an issue is this for Russian-Cypriot economic relations now, and how can we expect to see these economic relations develop?
Dmitry MEDVEDEV: We worked on these issues too today. Our businesspeople do indeed view Cyprus as a convenient platform from which to make investment. This is not surprising. It is for this reason that accumulated investment from enterprises under Cypriot jurisdiction now comes to more than $50 billion.
We therefore have a great interest in making these relations clear and transparent, because money does indeed have various origins. But we do have good experience working together in this sector. The amendments to the double taxation agreement signed just before aim precisely to make this area clearer and more transparent for the watchdog agencies. This step means that some of the restrictive measures that Russia had taken have either been abolished – I am referring to the relevant list drawn up by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation – or will be abolished once the corresponding amendments have been ratified.
We hope for productive cooperation with Cyprus on this issue, both in the financial and law enforcement areas.
Demetris CHRISTOFIAS: President Medvedev’s answer fully covers everything I wanted to say. This was indeed one of the issues we discussed today, and a matter on which we are in agreement. Our countries’ relations are based on trust and mutual benefit, and we are both very attentive to the need to eliminate any possibility of anything that could cast a shadow on the clean origins of the money invested. I think that the amendments to the double taxation agreement that we signed today will give us the necessary conditions and opportunities to develop our economic and financial investment relations and make sure they are clean and will not cause any problems for our economic relations. We are focused on the future and our relations are as clear as the skies above Cyprus almost all year round.
Question: My question is for the Russian President. Mr President, you have proposed the idea of concluding a new European Security Treaty. Cyprus was one of the first countries to voice its support for this initiative. Mr President, how do you think this treaty and its provisions could help to resolve the Cyprus issue? After all, more than 40,000 Turkish troops have been occupying Cypriot soil for 36 years now.
Dmitry MEDVEDEV: I really am grateful to President Christofias for the attention he has given Russia’s initiative, because I think this is a useful initiative that would help to resolve a whole number of problems facing Europe today, and able to settle the security issues that periodically arise between Europeans.
Let’s look at Europe. Europe is not just NATO, and not even just the European Union. Europe is made up of very different countries. Problems and conflicts periodically arise, including such sensitive conflicts as that in Cyprus. Which of the existing European institutions can help to resolve these problems? Seemingly they can all do their bit, and yet there is still no result. Why is this? This is partly because all of the procedures within the framework of existing international agreements, within the framework of existing international European institutions, are not effective or binding. Security in Europe is fragmented: some tie their security to NATO, some to the European Union, and some to membership in other blocs and alliances.
The OSCE is also not a universal platform for resolving serious problems that have long, sensitive and complex history. We know this through our own experience. This means that we need something else too. But what kind of something else? This has to be a comprehensive agreement that would include all European countries, all alliances, international institutions and European institutions on the continent, binding procedures for agreeing positions, and perhaps pre-conflict and post-conflict settlement provisions.
It always surprises me when people say that this is an anti-NATO or anti anything else initiative. The issue after all is not to oppose anything or anyone, but is that there are many European issues that still await settlement, and this is why we need more modern and universal possibilities, and though it is perhaps not ideal, I think that this initiative for a new pan-European security treaty is one of these possibilities.
We will continue discussing this initiative with our European friends and all interested countries.
Demetris CHRISTOFIAS: Thank you.