"Russia plays an important role for the Council of Europe because it is a great country and its stance always has a special significance … We want to work together in order to show this important role of Russia in the Council of Europe," Kasoulides said.
He also extended greetings to Lavrov from Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland.
Apart from priorities of Cypriot chairmanship, Lavrov and Kasoulides discussed other issues of mutual interest, including relations between Russia and the European Union, situation in Syria, and peace efforts aimed at reunifying ethnically divided Cyprus.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the stances of Russia and Cyprus on many issues overlap.
Both countries underscore the importance of returning to a constructive cooperation between Russia and the European Union, strengthening of the central role of the United Nations in international relations as the universal institution for maintenance of peace and security.
The visit of Kasoulides takes place amid the ongoing crisis in relations between Russia and the Council of Europe, triggered by the reunification of Crimea with Russia and the Ukrainian crisis.
In April 2014, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), one of the council's statutory bodies, adopted a resolution which barred Russian lawmakers from participating in PACE's three key bodies — its Bureau, Presidential Committee and Standing Committee. At the October session PACE adopted a resolution, according to which it did not recognize the results of parliamentary elections in Crimea.
Russia did not renew its credentials ahead of the Parliamentary Assembly’s 2016 winter session and made its return conditional to the restoration of its delegates' rights to vote and participate in PACE institutions.
The Cypriot chairmanship of the Council of Europe will last from November 22, 2016 to May 19, 2017.