Cyprian parliament adopts resolution on lifting anti-Russian sanctions

Lawmakers participate in a parliamentary session in Nicosia © Yorgos Karahalis
The parliament of Cyprus has passed a resolution urging the government to work on the removal of anti-Russian sanctions by a majority vote. The document also urges the government to create the conditions for Russia to lift its ban on Cyprian goods.

The resolution drafted by the members of the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) was supported by 33 MPs out of 60 with 17 lawmakers abstaining, the AKEL secretary Maria Pelekanou told RIA Novosti, adding that no one voted against the resolution.

The document contains an appeal to the Cyprian government to start working on the lifting of sanctions imposed against Russia by the European Council. It also stresses the necessity to create conditions for Russia lifting its counter-sanctions that affect Cyprus.

The sanctions prevent political dialog between Russia and Europe and lead to the deterioration of the situation on the entire European continent, the authors of the document stress.

“Sanctions imposed against Russia turned out to be counterproductive and do not contribute to resolving the crisis in Ukraine. They have instead solely negative political and economic consequences both for Russia and all EU member states,” a statement issued by AKEL says.

The statement’s idea was echoed by the party’s Secretary General Andros Kyprianou, who said after the voting on the resolution that he and his colleagues “think that the imposing of sanctions against Russia was unjustified.”

“Russia does not bear responsibility for the situation in Ukraine. That is why we decided to come forward with this initiative in the parliament,” he added, as reported by TASS.

In the meantime, according to Pelekanou, those abstained were the members of the Cyprian president’s Democratic Rally party.

The party’s decision to abstain results from the fact that, on the one hand, it understands the importance of relations between Russian and Cyprus and cannot vote against the resolution but, on the other hand, it cannot also support it, as Cyprus is a part of the EU, Averof Neofytou, the leader of the Democratic Rally, said in parliament during the debate on the resolution.

Russia's Foreign Ministry welcomed the resolution and stressed that, alongside a number of resolutions adopted in other countries, it indicates “the EU member states’ growing understanding of the real situation around the anti-Russian sanctions and their negative consequences for national economies as well as for the European security in general.”

The Cyprian resolution is just the latest in a series of similar documents passed by regional and national parliaments of various European states and regions. Most recently, the legislative assembly of the Italian province of Tuscany unanimously backed a resolution urging the lifting of the EU’s sanctions against Russia.

Earlier, three other Italian provinces, Lombardy, Veneto and Liguria, had all not only urged the Italian government to work on the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions but also acknowledged the right for self-determination of the people of Crimea, who voted to reunite with Russia in 2014 after having been part of Ukraine for 60 years.

In France, both the Senate and the lower house of Parliament, the French Assembly, have previously voted in favor of a resolution designed to lift anti-Russian sanctions earlier this year. In late June, France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs also said that sanctions against Russia should be lifted as soon as possible.

Around the same time, the Austrian Foreign Minister called for the gradual lifting of sanctions.

However, on July 1, the EU once again formally extended economic sanctions against Russia until January 31, 2017. Russia also prolonged its embargo on Western food imports until the end of 2017.

EU initially introduced economic sanctions against Russia in July 2014 for one year over the crisis in Ukraine and the reunification with Crimea. The sanctions target Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors, along with a number of government officials, businessmen and public figures.

Moscow responded by imposing an embargo on agricultural produce, food and raw materials from countries that joined the anti-Russian sanctions. Both sides have since repeatedly broadened and extended the sanctions.