United States Ambassador to Cyprus John Koenig has irritated Nicosia after asking on Twitter “What do people in Cyprus think about the week in Russia as seen from here? Anastasiades visit and statements, Nemtsov assassination?” linking Boris Nemtsov’s assassination with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades‘ official visit to Moscow.
Anastasiades concluded his visit to Russia on Saturday, February 28, just hours after the iconic opposition figure’s assassination in downtown Moscow. Today, he sharply rebuked the US Ambassador for his tweet, characterizing it as “exceedingly undiplomatic” and saying that any diplomat who creates “icy” bilateral relations does not offer any service to either his country or the country he is posted to. On his behalf, Cypriot government spokesperson Nicos Christodoulides said that Koening’s choice was “unfortunate at the very least” and that it “exceeds the bounds of diplomacy.” The outrageous tweet caused even the reaction of the island’s Greek Orthodox Church Archbishop Chrysostomos II, who advised the Cypriot government to ask for Koenig’s recall.
During President Anastasiades’ visit to the Russian Federation last week, eight bilateral agreements were signed between the two countries, along with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission and the Central Bank of Russia. Moreover, another MoU was signed between the Cyprus Investment Promotion Authority (CIPA) and “Invest in Russia.” On Friday, Anastasiades visited St. Petersburg before returning to Cyprus on Saturday.
US Ambassador Koenig: My tweet was misunderstood
In a statement issued on Monday, Koenig excused himself saying that the “question on Twitter was misunderstood.” He noted that his intention was neither to provoke nor imply anything. “I would like to clarify that my intention was neither to provoke nor to imply anything. I simply wanted to get the reaction of the Cypriot people on two different issues: First, President Anastasiades’ visit and statements in Moscow and, second, another dramatic event in Moscow last week, the assassination of Boris Nemtsov.” Furthermore, he underlined that “it is unfortunate that some suggested that I linked the two issues. That was not my intention.”