12 April, 2007
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov welcomed here on Tuesday the steps taken by the Greek Cypriot side towards the implementation of the July 8 agreement, stressing that his country will be active in the efforts to achieve a solution to the Cyprus problem, mutually accepted by both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Lavrov was speaking after a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart George Lillikas, who said that he requested the Russian Federation's assistance, as a UN Security Council permanent member, for the implementation of the agreement, which provides for a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
In statements after the meeting, Lillikas said that he requested Russia's assistance in the framework of the Security Council for the implementation of the July 8 agreement, stressing that ''only through the implementation of this agreement could we open new prospects for the solution of the Cyprus problem.''
According to Lillikas, Russia, due to its permanent seat in the Security Council, the good relations it has with Turkey and the outstanding relations with Cyprus, is in position to have an important role in the solution of the Cyprus problem, particularly after Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat's letter to the UN Secretary General.
''I consider the Security Council as the body which will have the decisive role on the future course of events. Russia's position, as expressed in public by Mr. Lavrov, is that this agreement should be implemented and that we should remain firm in the UN resolutions regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem,'' Lillikas added.
In his remarks, Lavrov pointed out the need for further strengthening confidence between the two communities in Cyprus and welcomed ''the
steps taken by the Cypriot government towards that direction.''
He specifically referred to the Cypriot government's decision to knock down a wall in Ledra Street in the capital, Nicosia, as well as the Greek Cypriot side's proposals for the implementation of the July 8 agreement.
''If this proposal is supported by the Turkish Cypriots, then we could commence the procedure of mutual work for certain issues and this is what precisely assists towards strengthening the confidence and we believe that this procedure will begin,'' Lavrov said.
Replying to a question regarding the efforts to reinvigorate the Annan plan, approved by the Turkish Cypriot community and rejected by the Greek Cypriot community during referenda in April 2004, the Russian Minister said that the developments of the past years have confirmed two fundamental principles, ''that the solution could be reached only in the framework of the UN, according to the relevant Security Council resolutions, and that the settlement can exist only on the basis of voluntary agreement of all Cypriots, Greek and Turkish.''
''We are in favour of a fair and viable solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of voluntary agreement of the Cypriots, Greek and Turkish, themselves and Russia will participate actively in the future in international efforts to achieve such a comprehensive settlement,'' Lavrov concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on 8 July 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of UN official Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Source: Athens News Agency