Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov headed to Cyprus on Monday for an official visit marking 60 years of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Nicosia, which comes during increased tension over illegal Turkish energy surveys in the East Mediterranean.
Speaking to Cyprus’ Phileleftheros newspaper ahead of the two-day visit on Sunday, Lavrov sought to assure Nicosia that “deepening Russia-Turkey cooperation and the necessity to cooperate with Ankara on regional issues neither affects nor will affect in any way our dialogue with Nicosia.”
“We consider any actions that risk a further increase in the potential for conflict as unacceptable,” Lavrov said. “We have repeatedly urged the leaderships of the countries in the region to show political foresight and resolve disputes exclusively by peaceful means and within the legal framework. It is better to resolve differences at the negotiating table rather than aggravate them with public rhetorical duels.”
Cyprus and Turkey have the “political will to prevent further destabilization of the regional situation,” Lavrov said, adding that Moscow is ready to facilitate talks for defusing the tension between Cyprus and Turkey.
However, he said, Moscow would be willing to mediate “only if both [sides] request it.”