Συνέντευξη στον Ουκρανικό Τύπο
Πρόσφατα έχει δημοσιευτεί στον Ουκρανικό τύπο και συγκεκριμένα στην εφημερίδα "Den" ("The Day"), συνέντευξη του βουλευτή Ρίκκου Μαππουρίδη. Η συνέντευξη αφορά τις σχέσεις Ουκρανίας - Κύπρου δεδομένης της κρίσης με την Ρωσία. Πιο κάτω θα βρείτε το κείμενο στα Aγγλικά ενώ ακολουθούν η διεύθυνση της ιστοσελίδας της εφημερίδας όπου το κείμενο βρίσκεται τόσο στα Ουκρανικά όσο και στα Ρωσικά.
A recent interview of MP Rikkos Mappourides, regarding the relationship between Ukraine and Cyprus amidst the current tensions between Russia and Ukraine, was published in the Ukrainian newspaper "Den" ("The Day"). Following is the text in English and below the links to the newspaper website where you can find the Ukrainian and Russian versions.
1. We Ukrainians see Cyprus as offshore island where Ukrainian and Russian oligarch usually hide their dirt money. What in Cyprus think about Ukraine? What associations usually Cypriots have with Ukraine?
Firstly, I would like to congratulate the people of Ukraine for the democratic election of Mr. Petro Poroshenko as their new president. The political history of the Ukraine has been marred by many setbacks since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the people of Ukraine can finally now celebrate the democratic election of a president, which is the first step towards the creation of a modern democratic state.
During the period prior to the bail-in in March 2013, certain rumors were spread by the international media, portraying Cyprus as a haven for money laundering. These accusations were completely unfounded and the subsequent investigations by the auditing firm Deloitte and Moneyval, the Council of Europe money laundering investigation department, proved this. Cyprus has implemented all the EU Directives and legislation concerning money laundering, and has one of the most effective and efficient processes to ensure that these types of activities do not take place on our island. Unfortunately however, the results of the investigation were not considered as newsworthy by the international media. For this reason, we see the conduct of Ukrainian businessmen which have invested in Cyprus along with businessmen from the EU members states such as UK, Germany etc. as not doing so in order to launder their money, but instead have used Cyprus, as a business center which provides a highly skilled service sector.
Cyprus has always had close ties to both Russia and the Ukraine, whether these are political, religious or economic, and Cypriots have always held the peoples of Ukraine and Russia in the highest regard. The recent events in the Ukraine have in a way polarized opinion in Cyprus, as people take a position, either in support of Russia or in support of the Ukraine. This is expected as many people in Cyprus have some sort of relationship with these two countries, and opinion is formed, usually on the basis of which of the two countries the person has closer ties with. For example, the Communist Party in Cyprus has extremely close ties with Russia, stemming from the days of the Soviet Union, and has therefore taken a position supporting Russia on this subject, going as far as accusing the EU of interfering in what it considers affairs of Russia, and using similar rhetoric to that used in Russia of neo-fascist elements within the Ukraine, as being the reason behind the upheaval.
My personal opinion and beliefs are that the Ukraine, as an autonomous state, has every right to pursue a future which involves a closer cooperation with the EU and I was the only member of Parliament which voted against ratification of the new state of Crimea, and openly condemned the actions taken by the pro- Russian separatists.
Cyprus and Ukraine cooperate on many levels. Evidence of this can be found in the Double Tax Treaty which was recently agreed to and ratified by the two countries. This Treaty had originated as the Double Tax Treaty between Cyprus and the U.S.S.R and was updated and amended at the request of the Ukrainian government. Furthermore, the two countries have recently signed the Agreement for Cooperation in the fields of public health and medical science, amongst other treaties. Beyond this, Cyprus also has a large Ukrainian community and welcomes many Ukrainian tourists every year.
2. We Ukrainian welcome your pro-Ukrainian position in connection with Ukrainian-Russian crises and your condemnation of Russian aggression towards Ukraine. May you explain how you reached such stand and whether most Cypriots share this position?
The situation in the Ukraine, with the effective annexation of Crimea by Russia, is a situation which mirrors our own here in Cyprus, where a large, neighbouring, expansionist state has annexed a part of an autonomous state in order to satisfy its own hunger for new lands, using the excuse that it is supporting minority rights. For this reason, it appeared to me as the only just decision, to support the Ukrainian government in this instance. Any other position would have been highly hypocritical, and it has been my mission since that day, to inform the other members of Parliament and the people of Cyprus, of the importance of objecting the actions of the pro- Russian separatists of the Ukraine. Unfortunately, as major interests are at play here, it has not been so easy to state the obvious to the people of Cyprus, but we believe that each day that passes brings more converts to support the Ukraine during this crisis.
3. It is known that Russia some time ago gave big loan to your government. Does this fact or that loan have influence on policy of government of Cyprus?
In 2011, the Communist government of then President Christofias, in an attempt to delay seeking financial assistance from the Troika, negotiated a loan from Russia, of €2.5 billion. This loan was primarily used to keep Popular Bank alive until the elections, and was a delaying tactic which the then President hoped would secure re-election of the Communist Party. Unfortunately, the effects of the loan were that the Republic of Cyprus was drawn deeper into debt for a lost cause, as Popular Bank could not be saved, and eventually collapsed. Financial aid was then sought from the Troika, which due to the time which had passed, had led to a much more unfavourable memorandum than that which Cyprus could have negotiated had we applied for assistance earlier. For this reason, most people in Cyprus understand that the loan was not at all beneficial to the Republic, but that it was merely a tactic used by the then government for its own political reasons. The terms of the loan were also highly unfavourable in terms of the interest rate at which Cyprus borrowed the amount, but thankfully this was renegotiated after the advent of the Troika, and as a result is now much more manageable. This loan does not affect policy in Cyprus, although the Republic still has its obligation to repay it, but is considered by the government today, and the public opinion, as a mistake of the previous administration.
4. Is it true that Cyprus was against the third round of sanction against Russia?
5. On your opinion what policy should EU have towards Putin regime Russia? Should West impose more crippling sanction against Russia as it was in case of Iran?
Cyprus does not believe that the solution to the Ukrainian crisis can be achieved through the use of increased sanctions towards Russia. This view is supported when one looks to the situation of Iran, whereby international sanctions have been used as a deterrent, to stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear program, but which instead have pushed Iran into a corner whereby the Iranian government, as an outcast, sees no reason to listen to international opinion, and pursues any policy which itself sees fit. Sanctions can be effective when imposed on smaller states which require international cooperation to survive, but cannot be used against large self-sustaining nations. Cyprus, through its violent history, has learnt the lesson that the best way to finding a solution to any problem is dialogue. Mr. Putin has recently acknowledged that dialogue is required regarding this issue and Cyprus welcomes and encourages such a policy as a first step towards solution of the crisis. Having said that, Cyprus would be willing to support the imposition of sanctions on Russia if the situation continues to worsen and it appears that Russia is not taking measures which will lead to a solution to the crisis.
6. Vice President Biden who visited your country in May said that Cyprus could become a new “global hub” for natural gas. Does this factor can in some way change role of your country from offshore haven to gas supplier?
The discovery of natural gas and the possible discovery of oil in Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone is considered by many as the savior of the economic viability of Cyprus. It is true that the whole country has high hopes that these discoveries will lead to a new economic model for Cyprus, and these hopes are shared by many countries such as the U.S.A which sees the discovery of energy resources as a catalyst for a solution of the Cyprus problem, which will lead to further stability in the region. Cyprus however will not stop pursuing foreign investment through its favourable tax regime, firstly as the benefits of the energy reserves will not be enjoyed for many years to come, and secondly, as it has been a pillar of the economy since the 1990’s and as a result has led to Cyprus having a highly trained service industry with a large percentage of the workforce directly or indirectly involved in this industry.
7. Now Ukraine has the new President. Does this factor may influence on bilateral relation with our country in which way?
Again, I would like to reiterate my support for the new democratically elected president of the Ukraine. We understand that Mr. Petro Poroshenko is a highly educated and freethinking individual and believe that his many years of experience in the fields of business and his extensive qualifications will prove to be a great asset to the Ukraine, not only in connection with its relations to Cyprus, but also on a global stage. His pro-EU stance, we believe, will put Ukraine on the right path for eventual induction to the EU family and consequently bring to the EU all that the Ukraine has to offer in terms of culture, economics and diversity. We believe that a larger EU can be the solution to many issues which are now facing the area, including the financial crisis, and that such situations can be avoided in the future through more cooperation between the individual states of the region.