President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear friends,
I want to share with you a few thoughts on the political, business, and humanitarian cooperation between Russia and Cyprus. It makes me particularly happy to be here given that this year, 2010, is an anniversary year. Fifty years ago, your country gained its independence and established official diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
Your independence was the result of long years of a struggle for national liberation. Despite the problems left by the colonial legacy, the proclamation of Cypriot independence testified to the triumph of a new system in international relations, based on the principles of international law, equality and democracy. These values remain just as relevant today.
In 1960, our country was one of the first to recognise your young republic. We were genuinely happy to see the Cypriots get the chance to decide their own future. Our bilateral cooperation was fruitful, mutually beneficial, and grew fast. This was the result of common national interests and close cultural and spiritual traditions, along with the sincere sympathy and solidarity that have traditionally bound our peoples.
We were greatly saddened by the tragedy of 1974, when Cyprus became the arena of fierce conflict, the consequences of which are still being felt to this day. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia is constant in its support for efforts to achieve a fair and viable settlement for Cyprus. We seek a comprehensive settlement that would be in the interests of all Cypriots, both Greeks and Turks. We are unswerving in affirming that the Cyprus issue cannot be resolved by pressure from outside, but only with the agreement of the parties themselves. It is clear to us that attempts to impose readymade ‘recipes’ or artificial timetables of inter-communal talks, and all the more setting deadlines for their completion or bringing in arbiters from outside are counterproductive.
The Republic of Cyprus remains a tested friend and partner for our country. As a member of the European Union, Cyprus does much to develop the strategic cooperation between Russia and the EU on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
Russia and Cyprus share common or close positions on many key international issues. We both support a democratic and multi-polar global system, respect for international law, sovereignty, and the need to take into account all countries’ lawful interests. We also seek to strengthen the UN’s role as the universal mechanism for preserving peace and strategic stability. We both think it necessary to develop reliable and effective mechanisms for settling global and regional issues. We are grateful to the Cypriot leadership for their positive reaction to Russia’s European Security Treaty initiative.
In short, our bilateral relations are developing well, in the spirit of friendly mutual assistance and trusting partnership. Over these last years, our cooperation has taken on new substance. Trade, investment and financial activities have come to the forefront. Contacts between our businesspeople are also expanding. As for our trade, despite the crisis, we achieved the impressive figure of more than $1 billion for the first half of this year.
Cyprus is an important investment partner and holds a solid lead in terms of cumulative direct foreign investment in the Russian economy. In Moscow alone, more than 1,500 companies with Cypriot capital have been registered. Russian financial organisations have been expanding their presence in Cyprus of late. Our banks are opening their branches not just to provide services for our bilateral business partnership, but also for Cypriot citizens.
The Russian-Cypriot business forum taking place in Nicosia today aims to set the priority areas for our trade and investment cooperation. Our goals coincide here: partnership for modernisation and developing high technology production. I am sure that these meetings will become regular events and in the future could perhaps involve representatives of other countries’ business communities too.
Another affirmation of our cultural and spiritual closeness is the longstanding tradition among Cypriots to study in Russia’s universities. The Cypriot association of graduates of Russian universities has around 3,000 members, including President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and his wife. There is growing interest in Cyprus in the Russian language and Russian culture, and in Russia more and more people, especially young people, are studying Greek.
The dynamic humanitarian and cultural cooperation between Russia and Cyprus gets a further boost from the large Russian-speaking community in your country, which is making its contribution to strengthening our ties. There are also the tens of thousands of Russian tourists that come to Cyprus every year to holiday, enjoy the island’s beauty, and get to know the friendly Cypriot people’s way of life.
The relations between our countries have enormous potential and we will do everything possible to develop them even faster, at the intergovernmental and public levels. I wish readers success and happiness, and peace and prosperity to the entire Cypriot people.