Cyprus breaks with EU on Russia sanctions

The parliament in Cyprus has adopted a resolution, urging the government to help pave the way for the removal of EU sanctions on Russia.

The resolution drafted by members of the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) was supported by 33 MPs out of 54, with 17 abstentions on Thursday. 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 EU 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 operating in eastern Ukraine.

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.

Sorgente: PressTV-Cyprus breaks with EU on Russia sanctions

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