Wednesday November 26, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
12o C
9o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Biden visits Cyprus as natural-gas find fuels reunification push

Nikos Chrysoloras & Georgios Georgiou

Vice President Joe Biden will become on Wednesday the most senior US official in more than half a century to visit Cyprus as the search for alternative gas-supply routes into Europe draws international attention to the divided island.

After arriving in Nicosia late Wednesday, Biden will on Thursday meet Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to discuss issues including energy and regional security, a senior US administration spokesman told reporters in a conference call before the trip. He will also meet Dervish Eroglu, leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state, the official said.

The Ukraine crisis has left European nations seeking to reduce their reliance on Russian energy. In Cyprus, where natural gas deposits have been found offshore, leaders are trying to leverage the attention to generate momentum in negotiations to reunite the island 40 years after Turkey’s invasion. For the US government, the trip is a chance to assess potential supply lines for European gas consumers as global leaders seek to reduce their reliance on Russian energy, the US official said.

“The crisis in Ukraine and the gas reserves create an opportunity to capitalize on the broader interest in the region and push toward a solution of the territorial dispute,” said Takis Hajidemetriou, a former Cypriot lawmaker taking part in the reunification talks.

Biden’s three-day trip to Cyprus -- the only European Union member-state with United Nations peacekeers guarding a buffer zone on its soil -- is the first by a vice-president since Lyndon Johnson in 1962. He arrives from Romania where he met President Traian Basescu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

Stalemate

After decades of stalemate, a new round of talks on reunification has entered a “substantive phase,” according to the United Nations. Negotiators have outlined a new federal state with a decision-making structure similar to Belgium’s, where the Dutch and French speaking regions have wide-ranging powers, and federal authority focuses on the budget, defense and foreign policy.

Negotiators have also agreed on policing, courts and the structure of the legislature, Kudret Ozersay, the Turkish Cypriot community’s lead negotiator, said in a May 15 interview. He said that from a technical point of view, the dispute could be solved within months.

Ozersay’s opposite number Andreas Mavrogiannis said the negotiators still have to settle differences over the property of those displaced by the split and the role of Greek and Turkish armed forces on the island as well as how to implement EU rights to freedom of movement.

‘Serious Effort’

“A serious effort is under way,” he said in a May 14 interview. “But we have no concrete results in any of the core outstanding issues.”

Raising the stakes, Noble Energy last year announced it had found as much as 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas trapped beneath the sea bed around the Cypriot coast. Eni SpA, Korea Gas Corp., and Total SA are due to begin exploring for additional deposits this summer and the government expects to have results next year, Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis said in an interview with Bloomberg last week.

“Energy supply considerations have put the Cyprus reunification talks back on the international agenda,” said Niyazi Kizilyurek, a professor at the University of Cyprus.

Cyprus’s government has been pushing the EU to invest in the eastern-Mediterranean island as a hub for shipping gas to Europe from nearby countries including Israel, Egypt and Lebanon, as well as from its own deposits.

Investment boom

The gas reserves open “a window of opportunity” for solving the dispute, Mavrogiannis said. “Cyprus is ideally located in the center of the energy supply routes in the region, and can become a contributor to regional cooperation and stability.”

Mavrogiannis forecast that a successful resolution of the territorial dispute would spur a boom in investment and construction accelerating the island’s recovery from the financial crisis which forced it to request a 10 billion euro ($13.7 billion) bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the euro area.

Ozersay said his concern is that the urgency of the Ukraine crisis persuades the international community to accept the “stability of the status quo” rather than pushing for a full settlement. Still, he met with the US Ambassador John Koenig eight times in a week ahead of Biden’s visit.

“No one can deny the increasing role and the increasing interest of the United States in this issue,” he said. [Bloomberg]



 

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday May 21, 2014 (12:22)  
Hundreds of migrants on crippled ship off Crete
Policemen suspected of working at Piraeus bar where shooting took place
Ankara proposes private firm to seek natural gas off Cyprus
Further tension builds up at universities
Debtors snap up offer for easier settlements
The governments plan for the settlement debts to the state is paying off as Greeks are signing up in numbers for the more favorable payment scheme. In less than 24 hours since the opening o...
Belgium gas firm said to be eyeing DESFA
Belgian natural gas network operator Fluxys is said to be eyeing the Greek gas grid, after signing an agreement on Monday with its Greek counterpart (DESFA) for the drafting of a study on th...
Inside Business
SOCCER
Atletico eyes last 16 berth against Olympiakos
Greek champion Olympiakos faces a tough task if it is to prevent last season's beaten finalist Atletico Madrid sealing its passage into the last 16 of the Champions League at the Vicente Cal...
SOCCER
EPO ends soccer suspension, Super League resumes
Soccer action will resume this weekend after the Super League convened on Monday, elected a new president and alternate president and sent a letter to the soccer federation that assures it t...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Beware of the fallen idols
Akis Tsochatzopoulos, a legendary figure of the Greek socialist movement, a man who came very close to taking over the party that governed the country for half of the time following the fall...
EDITORIAL
The hard truth
The coalition government must tell the truth to the Greek people, even if this entails admitting to mistakes made over the last few months. The countrys citizens are fully aware of how cruc...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Hundreds of migrants on crippled ship off Crete
2. Atletico eyes last 16 berth against Olympiakos
3. Debtors snap up offer for easier settlements
4. Belgium gas firm said to be eyeing DESFA
5. OLP approval paves way for investment in Piraeus
6. Airport tender exceeds expectations
more news
Today
This Week
1. Anastasiades to undergo heart surgery in the US on Dec 4
2. Cargo vessel carrying hundreds of migrants adrift southeast of Crete
3. Trade deficit widens by 8.7 percent during Jan-Sept period, says ELSTAT report
4. Two police officers among 9 arrested for drug trafficking
5. Fraport, Copelouzos offer highest bid for Greek regional airports
6. Stop Mediterranean becoming vast migrant cemetery, Pope tells Europe
Today
This Week
1. Double quake on Atalanti fault line rattles Greek capital [Update]
2. Biden heads to Istanbul amid tension over Cyprus EEZ violation
3. Give Greece a chance
4. Every age has its collaborators
5. Carlsberg takes control of Greek brewer Olympic Brewery [Update]
6. Scientists expand excavation of ancient Amphipolis
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.