Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades says Nicosia will implement only targeted measures against Russia while talk of the island joining NATO is premature, citing Ankara that appeared to be pumping the brakes on western alliance expansion over hostility from current member Greece and two likely Nordic applicants.
Anastasiades warned on Saturday that EU proposed measures against Russia would not be adopted if they “do not help and do not contribute to the aim pursued by the EU.”
The president, who spoke to reporters after the inauguration of a rehabilitation center for EOKA veterans, called on European partners to “take into consideration the impact on the member states and if these are sanctions against the member states rather against the invader.”
“What we have said is that the measures must be targeted, in order to bear fruit… so, we will act accordingly,” Anastasiades said.
Nicosia has warned in the past it would rethink its stance on sanctions against Russia, citing Turkey’s unwillingness to join the sanctions as well as Ankara’s largely neutral approach towards Moscow in the war in Ukraine.
But Ankara continued to frustrate western allies over the weekend.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who criticized the west for propping up the prospect of Sweden and Finland joining NATO, condemned support from the Nordic countries towards Kurdish militants affiliated with PKK, a designated a terrorist group.
“The problem is that these two countries are openly supporting and engaging with PKK and YPG. These are terrorist organizations that have been attacking our troops every day,” Cavusoglu said on Saturday.
Turkey has been accusing Nordic countries, especially Sweden, for harboring Kurdish extremists as well as supporters of US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen viewed by Ankara as responsible for a failed coup in 2016.
“Therefore it is unacceptable and outrageous that our friends and allies are supporting this terrorist organization,” the minister added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also weighed in on the issue, pointing the finger at NATO ally Greece, suggesting Ankara made a “mistake” when it approved Athens’ membership into the western military alliance in 1952.
“We, as Turkey, do not want to make a second mistake on this issue,” Erdogan said.
Asked to comment on any chance that similar discussions might begin on the island, concerning a possible future accession of Cyprus to NATO, Anastasiades said this was “premature” according to the Cyprus News Agency.
“It is very premature to discuss such an issue, there are serious problems and even if this was the will of the Cyprus government it would be impeded by procedural issues and particularly Turkey’s rejection,” Anastasiades said.
The question over a possible NATO membership application has been on and off in the Greek Cypriot press, with media sources saying Nicosia has been taking part in discussions at the EU-NATO level.
A handful of EU members remain outside of NATO, which has been accused by Russia as being an offensive rather than defensive military organization. [Kathimerini Cyprus]