Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[LINK] Two notes on Russian influence in small Mediterranean states

I've come across two news stories recently talking about Russian investment in and migration to Montenegro and Cyprus. Russia has developed intimate relationships with the former Yugoslav republic aspiring for European Union membership or the divided eastern Mediterranean island that's already inside the European Union for the same reasons: based on sentimental ties of Orthodox Christianity and an appreciation of warm scenic beauty, Russians set up shop in these two countries in large numbers. Indeed, such is the degree of Russian influence that some western Europeans claim concerns.

Aggregation site Presseurop hosts a translation of an article by Jan Hunin published in Amsterdam's De Volksrant, "The Russians invade the Adriatic coast"</u>.

[S]o many Russians have flocked to the Montenegrin coast in recent years that Budva is sometimes nicknamed Moscow-on-Sea. Even in the low season, the nearby airport provides three flights a day to the Russian capital.

But not only tourists are on board, as a strikingly high number of Russians, especially from the middle class, have moved for good to the Adriatic coast. They are there to serve their compatriots who overrun the coast during the peak season or have a profession that they can also practice abroad.

In a way these Russians are following a century-old tradition, for in the 19th nineteenth century well-off Russians drifted to the Crimea or the Mediterranean, in search of warmer climes. But the weather is no longer the most important reason for their migration. It is at the Adriatic coast that they find the peace and quiet so lacking in Russia. Especially Moscow has, according to many, becoming an impossible place to live in.

The first thing that Nadja Lapteva noticed when she landed in Montenegro was the word "polako". "It means take it easy, relax, expressions that I had forgotten existed in Moscow. There, everybody is in a hurry.” Last year she made an attempt to return to Moscow. But the daily traffic jams were too much for her. She now runs one of the three Russian schools in Budva.

[. . .]

This has not tempered the Russian’s love, however. Fact is that Montenegro has something that the other Mediterranean countries cannot offer: a culture that is remarkably similar to that of Russia. Like the Russians, the Montenegrins are Orthodox and, as Slavs, their languages are related. Even their coats of arms are remarkably similar. Also the fact that the Russians do not require a visa makes it just that little bit easier.

France 24 hosts the AFP article "EU bailout or not, Russian cash in Cyprus to stay"</u>.

Property advertisements in Cyrillic letters, Russian radio and newspapers and even schools in the coastal resort of Limassol spell out the identity of Cyprus's top foreign investors.

The allegedly dubious sources of Russian deposits in Cypriot banks, which total $26 billion, well over Cyprus's GDP of $17 billion, are pipped as a potential cause for economic difficulty for the small Mediterranean island.

[. . .]

Many Russians are here for the long term, taking Cypriot citizenship and settling down, and are providing important economic activity for the island, even those not in the millionaire bracket.

"I really fell in love with the place," said Karina Luneva, who moved to Cyprus to work and study, and bought a property seven years ago.

She was full of praise for the island's "beautiful climate, friendly people, nice environment... and low crime rate," and said she would not return to settle in Russia.

[. . .]

An estimated 50,000 Russians reside in the Greek Cypriot-run Republic of Cyprus, making up five percent of the population of more than 800,000. A smaller community lives in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of the island.

[. . .]

The Greek Cypriots and Russians share the Orthodox Church, and several Cypriot politicians, including President Demetris Christofias, are Moscow-educated.
Tags: cyprus, economics, european union, former yugoslavia, islands, links, microstates, migration, montenegro, russia
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