NICOSIA, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Cypriot President Demetris Christofias left for Russia on Tuesday for an official visit aimedat strengthening ties with the traditional ally.
In Moscow, Christofias will sign with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev a political declaration on bilateral and international relations, the president told reporters before his departure from the Larnaca airport.
Eight agreements and protocols are also expected to be signed between the two countries during Christofias' three-day visit, which the Cypriot president described as "an important milestone" for their bilateral relations.
Christofias, a Soviet-educated historian and fluent Russian speaker, added that he would express the gratitude of the Cypriot people for the support the former Soviet Union and the Russian Federation has given at crucial times concerning the Cyprus problem.
Christofias' visit to Moscow is also of significant importance for the ongoing peace process in Cyprus, especially after Turkey was elected last month to the UN Security Council as an non-permanent member for 2009-2010, local media reported.
Greek Cypriots have worried about the possibility of Turkey taking advantage of its position to influence future UN resolutions on Cyprus problem. They believe, more support from permanent Security Council members, including Russia, may neutralize Ankara's efforts.
Cyprus has remained divided since 1974 when Turkey militarily intervened and occupied the north of the island following a coup by a group of Greek officers.
In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot authorities declared breakaway and set up "the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," which is recognized only by Turkey.
After years of deadlock in the peace process, newly elected president and Greek Cypriot leader Christofias and Turkish Cypriotleader Mehmet Ali Talat, both considered as pro-settlement leaders, launched peace initiatives in March and began in September the substantive talks aimed at reunifying the island in a bi-zonal bi-communal federal structure.