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Replacement of US Ambassador in Cyprus.

03.03.2015

On Sunday Koenig posted a tweet saying: “What do people in #Cyprus think about the week in Russia as seen from here? Anastasiades visit and statements, #Nemtsov assassination?” The latter was referring to the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov last Friday.

Koenig was immediately slammed by Cypriot Twitter users, and subsequently in statements from Anastasiades, the government spokesman, the Archbishop and political parties, all of whom saw the comment as somehow linking Anastasiades and Cyprus with the assassination.

The Archbishop went as far as calling for Koenig to be booted out of Cyprus though the embassy said the ambassador’s three-year term would be up this summer in any case, but said it could not comment on who would replace him.

In his written statement on Monday in which he said his comments were misunderstood, Koenig added: “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. It is unfortunate that some suggested that I linked the two issues. That was not my intention,” he added.

But clearly that is how it was interpreted by Cypriot Twitter users. “NOT politically correct messages on behalf of the ambassador of US,” wrote one tweeter under the ambassador’s original post. “Ambassador, you should be ashamed of yourself. That’s a disgusting tweet,” said another.

“When an ambassador, instead of helping to improve relations constantly creates a coldness [in relations] he is not doing his best either for his country or the country to which he is accredited,” Anastasiades said.

The president was in Moscow last week where Cyprus signed a number of agreements, one of which – the formalising of an existing deal allowing Russian navy ships to dock as Cypriot ports – has caused a backlash from Western allies. Britain on Friday made its concerns known but the US has not officially criticised the move as yet.

Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Monday that Koenig’s tweets were unfortunate, given that Nicosia has had no official contact from Washington about the Cyprus-Russia agreements.

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