Cyprus to offer military facilities to Russia: President

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Cyprus will offer Russia military facilities on its soil, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday.

In an interview with a local newspaper, Anastasiades said that a pact strengthening defense relations between the two countries will be signed when he visits Moscow on Feb. 25.

"There is an old (defense) agreement which is to be renewed as it is. At the same time, some additional facilities will be provided just like we do with other countries - France and Germany for example," Anastasiades said.

Cyprus is currently providing facilities to French planes, such as refueling and maintenance at an air force base near the western city of Paphos and port facilities to German ships supporting the United Nations peace operations in Lebanon.

The air force base at which Russian planes will use is about 40 kilometers from Britain's sovereign Air Force base at Akrotiri, on the south shores of Cyprus, which provides support to NATO operations in the Middle and Near East regions.

Cyprus and Russia traditionally enjoy close relations based on cultural ties and a common religious tradition.

Russia has been one of the main supporters of Cyprus in its decades old dispute with Turkey, providing both political and military support in the form of arms sales.

Anastasiades said in his interview that Cyprus opposes additional sanctions against Russia by the European Union over Ukraine.

"We want to avoid further deterioration in relations between Russia and Europe," said Anastasiades.

He added that a positive aspect is that many countries within the European Union are feeling the same way, supporting the diplomatic way rather than additional sanctions against Russia.

"Cyprus and Russia enjoy traditionally good relations and that is not going to change," Anastasiades said.

He said that the current Russian economic crisis will probably affect some sectors of the Cypriot economy which is struggling to return to growth following the eastern Mediterranean island's bailout in a 10-billion-euro deal with the Eurogroup and the International Monetary Fund early in 2013.

"Tourism, services, investments in property ... the crisis certainly affects our economy negatively," Anastasiades said. Endit

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