Russia and Regional Security – Ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy Embassy of the Russian Federation in Cyprus, 28 February, 2017

by on March 05, 2017

Russia and Regional Security
H.E. Ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy
Embassy of the Russian Federation
28 February 2017


Ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy (S.O): If you allow me just as an introduction a general situation in the world, we witness many interesting things in the world happening now, beginning from Brexit in Britain, and then many changes in the United States. With our friend French Ambassador we can discuss who will be the next president of his country, which is difficult to envisage now. Many, many other things happening in the outskirts of Europe, for example in Moldova, Bulgaria, and so on and so forth. So the world is changing. And our minister took initiative in Munich in last international security conference. He called that a new world is emerging, and particularly emphasized the fact that the historic era that could be called the post-Cold War order has come to an end. Its main result was the complete failure of the Cold War institutions to adapt to new realities. The world has become neither western-centric, nor safer and more stable place. He stressed that we categorically reject the allegations of those who accuse Russia and the new centers of global influence of attempting to undermine the so-called liberal world order. This global model was programmed for crisis right from the time when this vision of economic and political globalization was conceived primarily as an instrument for ensuring the growth of an elite club of countries and its domination over everyone else. It is clear that this system could not last forever. Expressed his hope that the choice will be made in favor of building a democratic and fair world order, which he called a post-West world order. According to this vision in such a world each country develops its own sovereignty within the framework of international law and will strive to balance their own national interest with those of their partners with the respect for each country’s historical and civilizational identity. In other words, as I understood, it could be presented perhaps as multi-polar world based on international law. One could also add that in this context such an important issue mentioned in particular in foreign policy concept of the Russian Federation and approved by President Putin can be formulated as promoting partnerships across cultures, religions and civilizations. We hope that the new world order, the post-West, will take place now. That’s just general words what I wanted to say, and I’m ready to answer your questions. It’s much better now I think this way.

Ambassador Andrestinos Papadopoulos (A.P.): Mr. Ambassador, allow me a very challenging question. Turkey has been actively involved in the attempts to overthrow the Assad regime and has supported the armed Syrian rebels, including various jihadi groups. Russia has also accused Turkey of financing ISIS through oil smuggling from ISIS-controlled territory. How come that Russia now seems to regard Turkey as part of a solution to the conflict?

S.O.: Everyone should expect, of course, question about Turkey on Cyprus. I didn’t escape it. [laughing] So, you know (inaudible) achievements of process of normalization and developing of relations with Turkey during last year and beginning this year, maybe, one can mention intense dialogue between Moscow and Ankara. One cannot say that Turkey has changed its position concerning situation in Syria, and it became absolutely identical to Russian position. No. We still have quite a lot of differences, divergences. This is the truth. But the most important is the fact that now we have more understanding of situation on spot, in Syria. I mean, securing ceasefire first of all, a work with opposition, promotion of political dialogue with Syrian side. We should not forget that divergences always exist between us and Ankara, but important is to discuss them. And we are looking for this in the interest of the situation in this region. And we share the understanding that it is imperative to eliminate the terrorist threat in Syria as soon as possible, stop the bloodshed, move the settlement process to the political track and provide a solution to the humanitarian problems in Syria. All of that must be done together with Ankara, and also in accordance with the early decisions adopted by International Syria Support Group of which Russia and Turkey are members, and based on the UN Security Council resolution 2254 which articulated and integrated approach to all aspects of Syrian crisis in the interest of a durable settlement. I would also mention such a format for Syrian talks as Russia-Iran-Turkey format which is the most effective now. What we managed to do in this format in Astana, for example, we put on the table not political figures; we put on the table the fighters which are really in Astana, and this was achievement, which are really influence [sic] the situation in Syria. Not political groups, which some days are gathered in Geneva, and discussing what can be done politically, but they are living abroad in some countries, rich countries. But we put on the table fighters. And this helped us understand each other. And then, now we have more success in Geneva talks. So it helped the dialogue. Because we found approaches to each other with Turkey. I think that was a good thing. Of course many contradictions with Turkey are still there, we don’t find common ground on many questions, but on Syria it is important.

Questioner 1: Your Excellency, thank you very much for your kind introduction, and allow me to forward a question that is related to the Kurds in a post-settlement of the Syrian problem, talking about the Kurds in Syria, in particular, but the Kurds in northern Iraq and Turkey itself in general. Position of Russian on this.

S.O.: Yes, this is one of the questions on which we have differences with Ankara, of course. As you know, talks under the UN auspices were resumed lately in Geneva. We ensured a constructive and acceptable approach towards the composition of the participants of this conference through the line-up of the Geneva meeting participants could have been broader, we understand it. Concerning Kurds, I would like to remind that we constantly advocate for implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on this regarding the broader representation of the opposition. This cannot be assured without Kurds. We understand that. We realize that there are certain difficulties in positions in particular outside players. Nevertheless, we don’t think that the present line-up of Geneva talks will be a serious impediment to Syria peace process. There are plenty of far more serious impediments during these talks and the course of these talks. This is a step in the right direction. Of course at necessary stage it will be impossible to do anything on Syria without the representation of Syrian Kurds. We understand it, we have differences, again, I repeat, with Turkey on this subject, we try to influence Ankara on this subject, but when we cooperate in Syria with Turkey, for us the most important thing is the fight against ISIS.

Ambassador Nikolai Von Schoepff: Dear Stanislav, first of all I would like to appreciate our good cooperation between Russia and Germany, especially here in Cyprus. I would like to ask you on the so-called “Plan B”. I met recently several times with (inaudible) and we both agreed that Cyprus has no “Plan B” since Turkey does not know any autonomy, there would be no autonomy for our Turkish-Cypriot friends in future. I would like to ask you, is there a Russian concept for the so-called “Plan B” in case a solution fails here?

S.O.: Thank you Mr. Ambassador. My dear friends, from the time of Gorbachev the most difficult questions are from Germany [laughter]. And we always make attempt to understand something you’re asking from us, and we always welcome to answer your questions. But you know, sometimes you ask difficult questions. I’m not a Cypriot to answer about “Plan B”, I can just say about our position on Cyprus. A problem which is well known, which is a constant. Lately I looked through all the resolutions on Cyprus problem during the last forty two years. A young lady came to our embassy to work, she’s just graduated from the university, she knew nothing about Cyprus problem so I made her to study something. She made a collection of all the resolutions on Cyprus problem for me. And we always were supporting all these resolutions from the beginning, from Varosha issue, the other issues and so on and so forth, implementation, different steps of Cyprus. “Plan B” – I don’t know what should be “Plan B”, what may be “Plan B”. Two Cypriot states? No, we don’t want it. You know, from the beginning of these twenty two months of negotiations we were supporting the negotiations. And I had difficulties, because the stance of my minister, the stance of minister of foreign affairs, when I was calling to Lavrov and saying we should do this and this, he was answering me, “Get quiet, don’t interfere, let the two sides sit quietly and decide”. So, we did it, and they didn’t decide, unfortunately. But we hope that “Plan B” shouldn’t be here in Cyprus. We love Cyprus, we love both sides of Cyprus, and “Plan B” – it’s just not a solution. It’s a separation as I understand, and it’s not good for Cyprus.

Questioner 2: A few weeks ago in the Cyprus Weekly you had a comment piece where you stressed Russia’s commitment to stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and the role as a member of the P5. And you said at the time that the security of Cyprus should be guaranteed by the UN Security Council – more than by one, two or three parties. And as you say Russia has been a solid supporter of the existing resolutions, every six months on UNFICYP and Good Offices. And I wonder, I think it costs around 15 million dollars a year to run the UN mission here. If this new Cypriot-led process doesn’t produce results despite Mr. Eide’s and Ms. Spehar’s best efforts, is there a danger that the international community and the Security Council will turn their backs on Cyprus and say, “They had a chance with our best will (inaudible)”.

S.O.: Thank you for the question, it’s a good question. To my mind that’s why a solution should be. When there is a difficulty, the international community should help overcame the difficulty. And this is the case of Cyprus. Now, to my mind, and I know that my minister supports me on this question, it’s a kind of deadlock now, and what should be way out in this exactly situation, the role of the Security Council, the role of the secretary general of the United Nations should be much higher, should be more active. And we are waiting just from the UN side some concrete steps to resume talks, to make sides to come to the table. And in this respect we think that Guterres should be even more active, not only Eide, but Guterres himself.

A.P.: If I could add a footnote to what has been said, I would like to mention that the Good Offices Mission of the Secretary General are under article 98, when the Security Council orders the Secretary General to follow an event which might lead to breach of the peace or threat to the peace. Now, Dag Hammarskjöld and U Thant, both of them said that under the Good Offices Mission of the UN Secretary General he has to implement, apply the UN resolutions and all the principles in the Charter. So, also in one case which relates to Russia, which was the expenses for UN peace keeping forces ordered by the General Assembly, the International Court of Justice said that when there is a specific order or duty for the Secretary General to implement, he has to follow the resolutions of the UN Security Council. And also, international lawyers of high caliber also underlined the fact that the UN Security Council resolutions and the principles in the Charter should be implemented by the UN Secretary General. So what the ambassador said, that he wants to see more active role by the Secretary General, means that he has to implement these resolutions.
Questioner 3: True, that the main issue in Cyprus is the Cyprus issue, but I’d prefer to focus on the main issue in the region, which is Syria, of course.

A.P.: And Russia and Iran.

Questioner 3: I’m not sure if Iran has any role. In Syria I think it would be misleading to focus the argument on individuals, being this or that individual, and at the same time ignore the core of the problem, which is terrorism and extremism. We have the best example over there, which is Libya. There is no more Gaddafi in Libya. Of course, Gaddafi is very well known for his brutality, and so on. There is no more Gaddafi and everybody knows what is going on in Libya. So the main issue should be extremism, terrorism and perhaps separatism. One may think that dividing a country could be a solution. For those people the best example could be Sudan, we have the division over there, while we may not forget that it’s impossible at the end of the day to divide a nation, a people. For decades Germany tried and successfully reunified the nation. Still the question of the reunification of Korea is on the table. So nobody should forget the main issue, and everything, all the arguments should be continued, proceed in this line: whether the international community would be able to defeat, diffuse extremism and defeat terrorism or not. As I’ve mentioned, other developments, other elements, factors should be analyzed under these precepts. Some friend mentioned the question of Turkish role. Ok, one may accept it as a regional country, as a neighboring country. Turkey has certain interest, but invasion is something else. Nobody would be happy with the invasion. Turkey attacked Syria under the pretext of Kurds and the Kurdish issue. That’s one of the most critical, I would say – after the main issue, which is terrorism and extremism – that’s one of the most critical issues in the region. Especially that nowadays we are witnessing escalation between Erbil and Baghdad on the other side of the coin. Apparently, recently there has been a meeting of Kurdish figures, if not to say leaders, in Moscow. Ambassador, what can you tell us about the meeting?

S.O.: It’s difficult for me to tell something about the meeting, I have no, unfortunately, information about this. But you are absolutely right on one very important point – that we are fighting terrorism in Syria. We are fighting together and this is our joint goal. We will succeed in it – I am sure for this – and taking to consideration all kinds of populations in Syria, because it is a multiethinical [sic], including Kurds, Christians who live there. I visited Syria many times before these events, they lived altogether in peace and prosperity. And what is happening now is terrible. For example, what is happening with Christians in different regions. We are trying to support them also. We are supplying now Aleppo, eastern part of Aleppo is liberated and our convoys of food supplies almost every day flying [sic] to Aleppo and we are supplying humanitarian aid to Aleppo for people who are in a bad situation. So for us it is important for Syria to go to normal situation without division of Syria, which is very important. And some people are saying that we want division, because either we support or do not support Kurds, and so on. It is not true, Syria is an integral part, is an integral country, and this is important for the Russian Federation. That is why we support Kurds, we support Christians, we support every fight against ISIS in this country.
Christodoulos Pelaghias (C.P.): Just a quick follow up on that. Could you tell us a little bit about Russia’s view of the essentially safe zone that Turkey has established in Syria? It’s something that Turkey has been calling for a number of years, it was hoping that it could get NATO or the West to support that idea. In the end of the day Russia supported that idea. Can you tell us a little bit more?

S.O.: It is not only Russia. In his electoral campaign President Trump also supported the idea. We are trying to discuss with Tillerson now what he meant by safety zone in Syria. The answer of Americans was, “We are still discussing and analyzing this subject, we don’t have still a result on this safety zone”. It is difficult to establish the safety zone when there are so many fights in Syria. We should take into account the situation on the ground in Syria, also. Many players are at work, so to speak, with their ground forces, as well as in Syria’s airspace. Our position is that any such initiative regarding Syria’s territory should be coordinated with the Syrian government. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to be implemented. I cannot imagine this.

C.P.: But it has been established.

S.O.: It has been established where? In some parts of Syria.

C.P.: At the cost of Kurdish dreams.

S.O.: Kurdish dreams, yes. But I think this is quite temporary thing. The final solution of Syrian problem will solve this problem also.

Questioner 4: What are your views on the prospects of Russia-US relations under the new Trump administration?

S.O.: [laughter] Good question. It is not an easy question to answer, because we know what is happening first of all in the United States. That is why it is difficult. As far as we are concerned, we are ready for better relations with the United States. Whether they are ready – we don’t know. Trump is Trump. So what he will do, we will see, we are waiting. Of course, there are many possible fields of cooperation with Trump, and he says, first of all, a general approach, that he defends interests of his own country. We defend interests of our own countries. So if these interests coincide or not, we should sit at the table and look at it. But right now I can tell you, these interests coincide with fight with terrorism, first of all. And he says that he is eager to fight terrorism in his electoral campaign. And now the disarmament question, for example, anti-missile stations which have been created in Europe by Americans. What are the results? They created anti-missile stations, we created missile which can overcome the anti-missile stations in Europe, and we demonstrated it regarding Syria. So it is not reasonable to continue in this way. So we should think about a strategical [sic] stability in the region, something we could not agree with Obama on this question. We hope that we will do it with Trump. But if he will be allowed to do this? This is a good question to him, not to me.

C.P.: Russian diplomacy has lost a very large asset in the US Vitaly Churkin. We’d like to give you our condolences of this group.

S.O.: Yes, Vitaly was a good friend of mine, we visited each other, especially when (inaudible) he was an ambassador there couple of times. He was just a personality, it’s a pity, a big loss. You know that Samantha Power, the former representative to the United Nations, she wrote in her account that “He was really my friend”. Even enemies acknowledge that he was a friend. Despite fights on Security Council sessions he was visiting her home, he was a guest of her parents, they were meeting each other, discussing friendly at the table with wine many questions. That shows that he was a real diplomat. We lost another big diplomat, Kadakin in India, for example, lately, who was in India all his life and he was with Indira Gandhi and others a good friend. The loss of my friend in Turkey, ambassador Karlov, which was a terrible thing.

Costas Melakopides: Mr. Ambassador, I’m sure you have noticed that during the last few weeks, and particularly the last few days, there is what reporters call an escalation of a verbal war between Ankara and Athens. Given the unquestioned connection between the problem of Cyprus and Greece vis-à-vis Turkey or caused by Turkey, do you think that there is a role here for Moscow to either openly or through quiet diplomacy make a statement, especially now that president Erdoğan is visiting Moscow in few days?

S.O.: Yes, that is a good question, actually, regarding differences. And Turks (inaudible) in the regions of islands, of Greek islands and violation of space and so on, waters, of Greece – we condemn these acts. This behavior which attests to Ankara [sic] complete disregard for international law has already become commonplace, unfortunately, and we have repeatedly said so that we condemn such actions. Unfortunately, Turkey’s NATO partners, by the way, take such behavior for granted, don’t you think so? Evidently to satisfy the claims to Greece and Aegean Sea, the Turks prefer to act provocatively. It was stated officially by the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia they incite tension and threatening [sic] of the use of force. So we said it openly that Turkey, its blunt behavior coincides in time with its recent migration agreements with the European Union. The impression is that Ankara feels in a position to dictate its position to Europe and openly blackmail it. These are words of our official representative of the ministry of foreign affairs on this subject. Despite that Erdoğan comes soon to Moscow, despite that we have a kind of rapprochement lately with Turkey, when we think we should condemn Turkey, we do it. Regarding Turks, we are trying to correct its behavior regarding Greece, we are saying directly what we think. Our relations with Turkey is sometimes up, sometimes down, but the Cyprus problem is still there, and our stand on Cyprus problem is for forty four years without any change despite this volatile relations with Turkey, and we will continue to do this.

C.P.: Mr. Ambassador, let me press you a little bit on that. Despite official statements and so on, the West has always, at least with regards to Greece and Turkey and Cyprus, has always accused Russia of standing back and in some ways hoping that somehow the relationship within NATO deteriorates. I remember hearing these arguments back in ’74. And I think there is still that view in the West, the mistrust of Russian position, as I said, despite diplomatic statements and so on, that at the end of the day this is to your benefit.

S.O.: I don’t know whether it is a benefit or not, but I can assure you that we don’t pay much attention to relations between Greece and Turkey in NATO. NATO itself for us is something closed club and what is happening there has now big result on our bilateral relations with different countries. So our stand is a stand of principles on many questions, and whether it influences the relations of Greece and Turkey inside NATO it doesn’t matter for us. Like, for example, when our airplane was shut down, lately, Erdoğan went immediately to NATO. What was result? No result, because it was natural not to put inside this provocation NATO countries. So we hope that logic prevails in NATO, and NATO has its own way, and we have our own way in international relations.

Aris Petasis: I’ve been meaning to ask you this question for a long time. So I’m very happy that we have the opportunity to ask it today. As long as I remember, the Cyprus problem is basically rotating on the same axis for the last forty two years. It doesn’t change. Nothing has changed in substance. And basically is the Turkish surrender terms that had been said in 1974 for us, for the Republic of Cyprus, and the Kissinger principles of 1976. And if anyone is interested in reading on the Kissinger principles, for the original text from the British archives and the American archives, all he has to do is to go to the library and get the most recent book by William Mallinson called “Kissinger and the invasion of Cyprus”, and he will see all the documentation. I’m not hopeful that anything can change on the Cyprus problem, because it’s the same players, the same issues, the same surrender terms, the same Kissinger principles. Most of us here in Cyprus would hope that this balance can change if other actors outside the West are also involved in the process. And when I say actors, I mean the UN Security Council members, particularly Russia, maybe Germany on behalf of the European Union, maybe a little bit China. But really, the fulcrum, the centerpiece has to be Russia, if there is going to be any change. So is Russia willing to take a more active role in the negotiations, in the whole peace process, and in supporting the Republic of Cyprus? Thank you.

S.O.: First of all, I think we support the Republic of Cyprus. And to what extent to support from our side the Republic of Cyprus depends not only on us – it depends mostly on you, on your leadership. My friend (inaudible) from France, we were discussing this matter many times what can we do for Cyprus, we were sitting the three of us together and speaking on this subject. But the answer was always one: what does your side want? I spoke with the president, I thought, we are the members of the P5, Germany is always eager to cooperate with us. Do you want us to be more? The president would always say, “Yes, we want”. But the Turkish side doesn’t want. And actually I went to… And Mr. Eide was there, and my friend from Germany was there… And we spoke with Akinci – he doesn’t want. So what would you suggest in this situation for us? To come to the table and to say we are here? At the table there are not only Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, somebody else maybe doesn’t want our participation. And if we are more persistent on this subject, the other side will be more persistent also on the rejecting us. So we were discussing with Lavrov who is very well aware of the Cyprus problem, we were discussing with him many times this: how active should be Russia now? And had an impression always, you know, that maybe this time the two sides will sit quietly and solve the problem. “They are so close,” Lavrov says, “They are so close, let them do it!” That was two weeks ago, of course, not now. This was the answer. And maybe it was a correct answer because we were hoping on both sides to overcome the difficulties, to find the solution. So many good things were done during these twenty two months, so many difficult questions were found the solution to these questions. And we were hoping that everything will happen. It didn’t. But it’s a pity. That is why I told you that maybe now there will be an idea, but there should be an idea on your part to invite us to participate more actively. We are always ready, we are saying to the leadership that we are ready. But say to us what you need.

C.P.: Mr. Ambassador, what do you think Turkish premier’s post-referendum position, assuming that he wins the referendum? How forthcoming will he be on the Syrian issue, and how forthcoming will he be on the Cyprus issue?

S.O.: I didn’t discuss it till now with my minister, with my ministry, I can say only my own estimation, and my view. You know, Erdoğan has certain goals in Turkey. To achieve these goals he needs support of all kinds of groups of population. These include all kinds of groups of populations: ultras, lefts, and so on. So he will do everything for this, and after the 1st of April the situation will not be changed, to my mind. It will not be changed, because he will still have to support of the population for going further and further. So what do we expect? We can expect only one thing: that reasonable forces, let us say, outside Turkey, and the reasonable forces in the world will support more persistently Cyprus negotiations, including Russia, if you want it, and including other countries, together with Guterres, and then make Turkey to go on with the negotiations and to make the process continue.

C.P.: What if he is unsuccessful with referendum? The position will be the same?

S.O.: Of course the same, you know it better.

Questioner 5: There is still a question that bothers me very much. What does Russia or other powers in the whole confrontation talking about Cyprus are doing [sic] as soon as they realize, unless you did not realize, that the United Nations not adhering at its own principles and charter are not impartial during the Cyprus negotiations? Is it a Cyprus problem, or is it a universal problem?

S.O.: Difficult question for a local ambassador to answer such a global question [laughter].

C.P.: Mr Eide is not here.

S.O.: Mr Eide is not here, some other ambassadors also. So, to tell the truth, you know, it shouldn’t be like that. United Nations was created just for the purpose of establishing peace and security in the countries and should follow. And we should influence the United Nations and the Secretary General of the United Nations, to fulfill its obligations, that’s all I can say. Because otherwise it is not a proper world. and United Nations needs a reform which has been discussed for many years, and no results. It should be done in a proper way. I don’t know the answer to this question to tell the truth.

Questioner 5: Mr. Ambassador, a new ceasefire agreement signed in Ukraine and announced recently. What are the prospects for peace in Ukraine after this ceasefire agreement?

S.O.: Yes, you know, it’s exactly three years after Maidan took place, and the government of Turchynov and Poroshenko came to power. We hope they will stabilize the situation, but on the contrary the situation is getting worse and worse, lately. They are boming, of course the Donetsk and Lugansk respond to this bombing, then the (inaudible) says that both sides are to blame. But who starts all this? Lately there was a deterioration of the situation when the forces of Poroshenko captured the water supply station in Donetsk. So it means that population is even without water now. And they were bombing exactly the water station, not somewhere else. They ruined the water station. What to do for us? The people in Donetsk and Lugansk are hoping for our support. And yesterday big convoy of trucks… Sixty first convoy, you can imagine, sixty convoys during this year to Donetsk and Lugansk which supply just food, they are in blockade. And the authorities of Ukraine are doing everything to aggravate this blockade. We are supplying foods, we are supplying materials to these regions and only with our help they are still alive. So how can we say about peace process, about ceasefire, when even human lives are not taken into consideration. It’s terrible what is going [sic]. It was not an attack from Donetsk fighters, it was not attack from Lugansk fighters, which wanted to capture more land, no. There are no Russian troops, I can assure you, in these regions, the simple people are fighting. But they are already fighters and not just simple people during these three years. We are trying to help them. And lately our president made a decision to recognize the passports of Lugansk and Donetsk. Why? Because from the West border with Ukraine Lugansk and Donetsk is cut off. They cannot supply coal and get money, they cannot survive. They have coal, the only thing Donetsk has – a coal. Miners live there. They were supplying to Kiev coal, and they were getting money for this, they were living on this. But ultras established blockade on the border, now they cannot do even this with Kiev. Kiev makes everything possible to make the situation in these regions even worse. How can we speak about the Minsk agreements implementation by Kiev side when they are doing such things. So Putin recognized the documents of Lugansk and Donetsk issued by… Because even people who living [sic] in the Donetsk and Lugansk, they cannot go to Kiev, they are under blockade. For example, young generation, sixteen, seventeen years old, young generation, they cannot get to Kiev and to get passport, any document. How to live without any document in Donetsk and Lugansk for these peoples? So the situation is terrible, that is why we recognized the documents of Lugansk and Donetsk, as a temporary step, to help this people just to survive.

Questioner 6: Mr. Ambassador, for forty three years we tried to solve the Cyprus problem within NATO. We have America, we have England, and we have Turkey trying to impose on us the surrender terms. We haven’t accepted that. We look at our European friends that we joined some years ago, and we see that they look the other way. The Turks come in to Aegean and they don’t even have the guts to tell them get off. They say, “Respect your neighbor”. Will this sinister situation and cynical leave us in a limbo? You said, if we knock, you will answer. It could be our last hope?

S.O.: Yes, we understand the situation you are in. As I told, we are ready to help but in the framework of P5. Political steps, anything we can undertake. We were doing it for forty two years, you know our support. Now we are being criticized for the year 2004, but it was your request when we blocked the Annan Plan at the Security Council.

Questioner 6: (inaudible) by Makarios Drousiotis.

S.O.: [laughter] Drousiotis is Drousiotis, let it be on his part. What he is doing, what he is thinking, you know, I answered, partially, last Sunday in Fileleftheros to all these publications. I think that it’s just imaginations of Drousiotis, because actually we were always at the side of Cyprus during all these years. I remember, and you remember that in ’74 what was the mood of the population here. The main slogan was “ΝΑΤΟ, ΣΙΑ, Προδοσία” [NATO, CIA, Betrayal – ed.]. Once Koenig, the former ambassador, in my presence was asked by some Cypriot, “Why an American ambassador was killed here after the invasion?” The answer of Koenig, “It was just a mistake”. But mistake, can you imagine, huge demonstration in front of the American embassy and the American ambassador is killed. It was not a mistake. Black colonels were supported we know by whom, and so on and so forth. That is why when Drousiotis writes that the Soviet Union was not… First of all, on the 15th of July took place the coup d’etat, on the 17th there was a statement of the Soviet government – one day passed only. And it was the strict condemnation of the coup d’etat in Cyprus. On the 20th invasion took place. The Ambassador of Turkey came to the ministry of foreign affairs of the Soviet Union, and said, “You know, we are going to restore the status quo on Cyprus”. It was on the 21st of July. He came to the ministry and said, “We are going to restore, you will see, tomorrow that everything on Cyprus will be ok”. These are the words written down in our archives about the Turkish ambassador who came to see our deputy foreign minister those times. We waited for the 22nd, the escalation, captured more land, and the 23rd it was a statement of the Soviet government again: the intervention is not the right thing to solve the problem. So, after that, how Drousiotis can write such things that we were thinking for some days what to do and not to do, and neglecting, absolutely neglecting the role of United States those times and British role. So, I think you remember what happened, we remember what happened, we were always helping you. And, again I am saying, again and again, we are ready to do it again, with others in P5 and with the United Nations to push on Guterres to do what you think is proper to do for us. But the initiative should be on your part.

Questioner 6: Mr. Ambassador, do you think that within the framework of the United Nations the Permanent 5 could initiate a procedure towards the UN Secretary General to provoke a kind of an invitation to participate in the Geneva conference on Cyprus, dealing, especially, with the international aspects of the Cyprus problem?

S.O.: It has to do with what previously was sad. Actually we approached Guterres on this subject already. We didn’t get a clear answer. We said that we didn’t understand why Geneva was taking place in such format. We said it already to Guterres. Guterres said, “You know the difficulties which exist between the two parties and we don’t want to complicate more the situation.” So we already did it but got no clear answer.

Ambassador René Troccaz: Thank you for organizing this meeting, and thank you for what you have said which is very useful and clear. I have a small comment and a question. My comment is just to say that France – it has been mentioned for Russia, for your country, but I will speak, of course, for France – was on the side of the Republic of Cyprus not for six months but for forty two years, I would say, concretely. If you want me to precise, you just have to see, but I’m sure you know, all of you, that concerning, I take this example, weapons supply to the Republic of Cyprus – we are maybe two-three countries in the world who did that – France for forty two years was in that. This is one thing. At the United Nations we always support the positions of the Cypriot Republic. And there is one additional now factor, which of course we share with other partners of the European Union, is that with the Republic of Cyprus, we are – like Spain, Ireland, Bulgaria, Germany and many others – members of the same group of the European Union. Of course Russia is not in this club. But this is something additional. So, one word, France was and is and will be – I’m sure of that – supporting the Republic of Cyprus, that’s very important. It’s very important because also it gives the position of France regarding the peace process in Cyprus. My question to the colleague and friend Russian Ambassador is: In case of a non-solution in Cyprus, does Russia see any threat for the long-term of such a solution, not only for Cyprus, but for the area?

S.O.: But it is natural, of course there is such a danger. We’re advocating the solution, we are in favor of this solution, and just because that we are in favor for the security of this region, like France is. Syria is so close and we need peace here. We need stability on the island. That is why we condemn dangerous situation on the Greek islands, and we don’t want here any dangerous situation. It’s quite natural we are in favor, and if the solution will not take place – “Plan B”, “Plan B”, what kind of “Plan B”? It is not clear till now. But it means that any “Plan B” means aggravation of the situation. We would like to escape it. So I repeat that, I think you, us and other countries, we are ready to get together and to do something together if it is necessary. And why nobody is asking me about the Turkish Stream, for example? [laughter] Greeks, every Greek is asking me about the Turkish Stream, what will be the future.

A.P.: Mr. Ambassador, in this connection, as you know, there was a criticism that Russia doesn’t want any solution to the Cyprus problem because this will, if a solution is there, the door will open for the hydrocarbons from the Eastern Mediterranean to go through Turkey to Europe, so this will damage the prospect of Russia-Turkey cooperation through the South Stream.

S.O.: Yes, we have plans, of course we started to construct Turkish Stream, these are our plans. I think it will be implemented, but it is… You know, the project proceeds in two lines of Turkish Stream. One line of Turkish Stream goes directly to Turkey and will stay there. Another line will go till the border with Greece and then it’s up to European Union what to do with this. In any case we have Blue Stream now in Turkey, the capacity of which are [sic] full already. Turks they say they need another stream, so we are going to construct, it is bilateral, first of all, action between us. And if European Union will be eager to do this through Turkey, not through Bulgaria like it was envisaged before, the South Stream, we are there, we will be there already. This is our plans. If not, we are not disappointed very much, because Turkey needs more gas, economy is quite stable. Now the streams in Asia… Unfortunately the Ambassador of China is not here, he can confirm it that they need a lot of gas. So we have prospects. We have (inaudible) who want to buy our gas, we sell it. There is no political…. It’s just money.

C.P.: Mr Ambassador, on that note…

S.O.: Optimistic.

C.P.:… on the money note thank you very much for joining us this evening. Hope to see you next time.


See: The US-Russia Ceasefire in Syria

See: Russian Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean

See: Russia’s Role in the Eastern Mediterranean and Beyond

See: Regional Security Videos

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