On Thursday, Russia vetoed a British and American backed UN Security Council resolution on Cyprus. In Moscow's opinion, the resolution would put pressure on the population before they vote on referenda on the reunification of the Greek and Turkish parts of the country on April 24.
This was the first time Russia had used its veto for nearly ten years. The last time Russia used its veto in the UN Security Council was on December 2, 1994 when the Bosnian problem was discussed.
According to Russia's ambassador to the UN, Gennady Gatilov, there were two reasons for the veto.
First, "the co-authors of the draft resolution ignored the opinion of other members of the council and put the draft resolution to the vote practically without discussing it." Second, Russia believes that there is no need to hastily adopt the resolution. That is, Moscow thinks that the resolution will deprive the Cypriots of the conditions for a free election. "We are convinced that the referenda, scheduled for April 24 in the two parts of Cyprus, must pass freely, without any outside interference or pressure," Mr. Gatilov said.
Russia's position is that the results of the referenda on Cyprus need to be seen and taken into account before the UN Security Council can take any steps.
The resolution had to approve of an embargo on the deliveries of arms to the island and to sanction the expansion and the change of the mandate of the UN mission there that has been going on since 1964.
Regardless the results of the referenda, it is important that Cyprus enter the EU on May 1. Diplomatic sources told RIA Novosti that planning the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus in advance was impossible without coordinating it with the European Union. It is not important, in this regard, whether all of Cyprus (if referenda on reunification is approved) or only the Greek part joins the EU.
If part of the island's population votes against reunification under the plan proposed by the United Nations, the UN would have to develop a new plan to settle the problem. Therefore it is senseless to adopt a resolution now.
Such developments are quite possible, since a majority of Greek Cypriots are currently against reunification, because the UN plan takes into consideration mainly the position of the Turkish side. No UN Security Council guarantees will be able to make it viable
Believing such an outcome was possible, on Monday after negotiations with his Cypriot counterpart Georgios Iacovou, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said "at first it is necessary to wait for the results of the referendums in both parts of Cyprus and only then, consider them in the UN Security Council." Therefore, the Russian veto was hardly a surprise. However, it does not mean that Moscow refuses to constructively work in the sphere of a Cyprus settlement. On the contrary, Russia insists on it. But only after the referenda, when it will be clear what the Cypriots want.