Russian president begins first-ever visit to ethnically split Cyprus

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Russian president begins first-ever Cyprus visit

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will sign 15 agreements boosting bilateral ties with Cyprus on Thursday during his first official state visit to this ethnically divided island nation.

Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias said the visit will underscore the two countries’ very close economic, political and cultural ties and help nudge forward slow-moving reunification talks.

Cyprus was split into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded the Mediterranean island after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

Two years of peace talks have produced only limited progress.

Among the deals that the two leaders will sign is a key agreement to abolish double taxation on capital and income tax.

Cyprus is a major conduit of foreign investment into Russia. Overall investment from the island to Russia until 2008 amounted to $57.6 billion (euro40.8 billion), while Russian investment to Cyprus reached $16 billion (euro11.5 billion), Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said citing Russian figures.

Revenue from Russian holiday makers has also helped buoy the tourism-reliant Cypriot economy amid the economic crisis. Statistics show an 80 percent jump in Russian tourist arrivals to the island last August compared with the same month last year.

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