By Staff Reporter
US Vice President Joe Biden has spoken of a new opportunity for a “win-win breakthrough” involving Cyprus, Turkey and Israel and the creation of a gas pipeline from the Levant to Europe.
Biden was addressing Harvard students in the US and spoke in response to a question from a Cypriot on energy issues in the Eastern Mediterranean. Biden responded that the world was changing.
He said he had been deeply involved and “passionately engaged” when it came to the Cyprus issue since the mid-seventies. “As a matter a fact my friends call me Joe Bidenopoulos. You know where I come from. It’s not a joke. I am passionately engaged ever since the illegal occupation,” he said, referring to his ties to the Greek-American community.
Commenting on his visit to the island last May, Biden said there have been fundamental changes in the situation in the region.
“Turkey fully understands that it is no longer in its interests… they have no interest to have troops remaining on Cyprus. None, whatsoever,” he said.
He added that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, “has made the break with the only constituency to whom ‘occupation’ mattered, and that was the military.”
“I recently met with him and he has committed to seeing me in Ankara to see if we can do two things, one, reach a solution which he says he will agree to a ‘bi-zonal, bi-communal’ island and [two], he is beginning to realise, in my view, and I will not speak for him, that there is an overwhelming self-interest for Turkey in taking advantage of the significant resources, particularly gas, that are in the Eastern Mediterranean that could play a significant role in liberating not only Turkey, but, Greece… a pipeline… from Russia’s use of energy as a weapon.”
What was beginning to happen, he added, was that there was a new possibility and where opportunities were arising where there were benefits. “Because the irony is… just as the one thing that will keep the Kurds in Iraq which is oil… is the very thing that may be the lubricant to bring an end to a very unfair circumstances that exist since the late 1970s,” he said.
He added that a senior US official was currently in Ankara discussing the issue.
Biden urged all involved not to “dwell on the past” but to “look at the opportunities presented” in the future, and “see if there was a ‘win-win’ situation for everybody.”
“And the reason I can say that is because I am Irish. And we understand about occupation. As George Mitchell said, the Irish Accord was 700 days of failure and one day of success,” he said, a comment he had made during his visit to Cyprus.