US Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday said Cyprus has the potential to become a “key player” in the Eastern Mediterranean and expressed Washington’s support for a resolution to new peace talks on the divided island.
“Cyprus is poised to become a key player… transforming the Eastern Mediterranean into a new global hub for natural gas,” Biden said on the second day of his visit to Nicosia after talks with President Nicos Anastasiades.
Biden, the first US vice president to visit the island in more than 50 years, said Washington stood ready to provide whatever support is necessary for a settlement, noting that such a breakthrough would lead to greater prosperity and security as well as opportunities for new generations. He added that it was “long past time… that all Cypriots are reunited in a bizonal, bicommunal federation,” but stressed that he had not visited Cyprus to “present or impose” a solution to the United Nations-mediated talks.
Biden also visited the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus and had talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu but emphasized that Washington recognizes only “one legitimate government in Cyprus,” that led by Anastasiades, and that his “visit and meetings throughout the island will not change that.”
Interest in solving the longstanding division of Cyprus has grown since the discovery of large undersea gas reserves off the island’s coast and in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine and its possible impact on Russian gas.