Russian President Putin Set for Cyprus Visit
Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to visit Cyprus after President Demetris Christofias' invitation was accepted, according to a government statement. The dates of the visit has not been confirmed.
In a telephone call today, the two presidents discussed the 2.5 billion euro loan Cyprus took from Russia at the end of last year and Christofias thanked him for the money. They also discussed 'the terms of further economic cooperation between the two countries,' according to the statement.
Cyprus has asked for a further five-billion-euro loan from the Russian Federation, which has so far not been confirmed. The state is in a very difficult situation amid an economic recession and cash flow problems at two of the island's largest banks which lost billions of euros on their exposure to the stricken Greek market. The government is currently negotiating with the EU and IMF for a bailout through the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) and also applied for a loan from Russia.
The conversation was 'very positive and very warm,' according to the statement.
The last high-ranking Russian official to visit the island was Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who signed 13 bilateral agreements in Nicosia in October 2010, including a double taxation agreement.
A lot has changed in the region since Medvedev's visit. Natural gas was discovered offshore by Noble Energy, which proceeded with undersea drilling in the face of Turkish threats. And Syria fell inexorably into civil war.
Russia has interests in both developments - Russian energy company Gazprom has a bid included in the government's second round of offshore rights licensing. And in Syria, Russia controls the port at Tartus, and is set on protecting its interests to the point that it has transferred warships to the region, one of them via Cyprus' Limassol Port.
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