Russian Embassy to start offering consular services in North Cyprus

The Russian Embassy in Cyprus is getting ready to offer consular services in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, according to Russia’s official news agency TASS.

A TASS correspondent said the details of the new service came from a representative of the Embassy, who said: “We will start providing consular services in the northern part of the city of Nicosia in the very near future.”

“The work will be carried out on a regular basis,” the embassy source added.

The TRNC has become an increasingly popular place for Russians to visit and reside in. The TASS report estimates that over 50,000 Russians now live in North Cyprus.

Turkish Cypriot officials have also noted a five-fold increase in the number of Russians arriving in the country. Figures for Ercan Airport passengers in 2022 show 29,530 Russians passed through the airport, making them the second largest group of foreign citizens to use Ercan after the citizens of Turkiye.

The huge number of Russians present in the TRNC has made the need for local consular services even more pressing. However, Turkish media reports that this will be an official Russian consular office, which would entail formal recognition of the TRNC, seem premature.

TASS states that the Russian presence in North Cyprus will be similar to those by the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Italy and France missions, whose diplomatic staff operate consular services in North Cyprus without any formal recognition of the TRNC.

That could change though, according to Professor Hasan Ünal, who specialises in Turkish-Russian relations, who believes it is in Russia’s interest to support the TRNC and maintain the divisions in Cyprus.

In a series of tweets after today’s announcement by TASS, Prof. Ünal said that “The news that Russia will open a consulate in the TRNC is very positive. If Ankara presses on this issue, it is possible for Moscow to recognise the TRNC; because a united Cyprus becomes EU territory. If there is a compromise, this state will also enter NATO and Türkiye will shift to the West too much.

“None of these scenarios will be in the interests of Russia. However, the two-state solution will not only deepen the Turkey-Greece crack in NATO, but also prevent an island like Cyprus, which provides the opportunity to control the entire Eastern Mediterranean, from shifting to the West altogether.”

Currently only Turkiye recognises the TRNC. The Turkish Cypriot state was formed after the 1974 War in Cyprus and unilaterally declared in 1983, twenty years after the island became politically divided following a Greek Cypriot coup that seized control of the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus.

For decades, Turkish Cypriot leaders have worked towards the unification of the island as a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation, which has failed to take root due to Greek Cypriot unwillingness to share power. In 2020, Ersin Tatar was elected TRNC President pledging to make two states in Cyprus an internationally accepted reality.


Main image, top, an aerial shot of the embassy of Russia in Nicosia Cyprus taken in July 2019. Photo © Theodoros Demetriades / iStock