By Stefanos Evripidou
THE CYPRIOT delegation in New York continued its tour of world leaders and representatives on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) yesterday, following the international practice of mingling as much as possible when the chance arises.
President Nicos Anastasiades met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and members of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association yesterday, while today he is due to address the UNGA, and later meet with US Vice President Joe Biden.
Anastasiades is expected to discuss efforts to reach a deal in the Cyprus problem and bilateral relations with Biden.
The US Vice President was last night due to meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who according to reports, will press Biden to agree to a no-fly zone in the region in
exchange for American use of Turkey’s Incirlik air base to launch attacks against the Islamic State.
The Cyprus problem is also expected to come up in the meeting with the Turkish leader.
During his own speech before the UNGA, Erdogan made a one-line reference to the Cyprus problem, using most of his 20-minute speech to criticise Israel, Egypt, and to a lesser extent, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, known as the P5.
“As Turkey, we would like to see a solution to the Cyprus problem. As Turkey, we would like to see the end of the occupation of territory in Azerbaijan,” he told world leaders and representatives gathered in the auditorium.
Erdogan said he wants to promote peace and prosperity in the region, claiming that Turkey does not interfere in the affairs of any country. “We respect the territorial integrity of each country in the region,” he said.
The division of Cyprus, meanwhile, was discussed during Anastasiades’ meetings this past week with the foreign ministers of the US, UK, Russia and Greece, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and representatives of the P5.
The Cypriot president also met with members of the American Jewish Committee, Lebanese Prime Minister Tamman Salam and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Speaking from New York, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said it was still unclear whether Turkey was willing to accept a Cyprus solution which would also be acceptable by the Greek Cypriots.
Even so, efforts would be made to reach a solution, he said, adding that this was a priority issue for the United States, in combination with other developments in the region.
Kasoulides said the US would be working towards a solution and would strengthen the UN’s efforts in that direction.
The Cypriot minister held meetings on the sidelines of the UNGA with counterparts from Iran, Georgia, Argentina, Angola, Norway, Lichtenstein and Malaysia.
He also met with US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the General Secretaries of the Commonwealth and the Organisation of Islamic Conference.
The Cypriots were not alone in discussing the Cyprus problem in New York as newcomer to the scene, UN Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide from Norway was also carrying out contacts in the Big Apple.
Eide met yesterday with Greek Foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos and Russian officials, while a day earlier he saw Turkey’s number two at the foreign ministry, Feridun Sinirlioglu, to discuss the prospects of a settlement.
The peace talks also came up in a meeting with outgoing EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule while today he meets US diplomat Nuland.
In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, Eide noted that while there is much disagreement in Cyprus on the issue, in New York, there is consensus among the P5 for a negotiated settlement that will reunify the island.