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Energy high on agenda at meeting with Biden, Anastasiades addresses General Assembly (Updated)

PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday met with US Vice President Joe Biden and top-level US officials on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York with energy obviously high on the agenda.

Attesting to the significance of the meeting, which lasted just over an hour, was the participation of Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Amos Hochstein, the US State Department’s Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs Bureau of Energy Resources.

Hochstein warned two weeks ago that if countries in the Eastern Mediterranean did not resolve their political differences and learn how to share infrastructure, most of the natural gas in the region would stay in the ground. He also said he hoped Turkey understood the critical element of energy discussions when it came to the Cyprus issue because wider plans could not proceed without a political solution. The market was still looking for validation that historic political differences would not get in the way of investment and development Hochstein said.

Taking part in the meeting from the Cypriot side were foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides and government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides.

Speaking to reporters later, Christodoulides described the discussion as “constructive, sincere and open.”

The topics discussed included Cyprus’ role as a provider of security in the eastern Mediterranean, as well as energy and prospects for energy collaboration in the region.

According to Christodoulides, Biden conveyed to Anastasiades his desire to “assist [in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem] up until his last day in office so that we may achieve the objective which is none other than ending the occupation and reunifying our country.”

Biden briefed Anastasiades on his own talks with Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan a day earlier; Biden and Erdogan had discussed the Cyprus issue among others.

The spokesman demurred on a question as to whether anything new came up during the discussions with the US officials, except to say that the ongoing reunification talks have seen considerable progress, but also significant difficulties and disagreements, “less so on the question of property, and more so on the chapters of territorial adjustments and guarantees.”

President Nicos Anastasiades addresses the UN General Assembly
President Nicos Anastasiades addresses the UN General Assembly

Meanwhile in his address earlier before the UN General Assembly, Anastasiades said the most significant differences in the Cyprus talks on property, territory, security and guarantees would weigh significantly on whether a solution was feasible.

In this respect, he said, what still needed to be addressed were the financial dimensions of the settlement, including costs related to property and to the institutional functioning of the federal state, safeguarding the smooth implementation of the agreement, the ‘first day’ of the solution and what it would entail, introducing the euro as legal tender on ‘Day One’ and speedy implementation of the various aspects of the agreement.

“I do believe that this ambitious goal is achievable, provided that all interested parties and stakeholders, and in particular Turkey, show a similar degree of commitment, engage constructively and proceed with concrete and tangible steps which will positively reinforce the negotiating process,” said Anastasiades.

“I wish to, yet again, reiterate my resolve to continue working with the same determination and intensive pace in order to reach a solution the soonest and, if possible, by the end of the year.”

He also referred to the differences that remained on a number of issues in the chapters of governance, EU and economy.

“The most significant differences lie in the core and fundamental chapters of property, territory and security and guarantees which will weigh significantly as to whether a solution would be feasible,” he said.

“My aim is to avoid failures of the past and to present to the people a clear and well-prepared settlement agreement, with no constructive or other ambiguities and deficiencies; ensuring that the solution will be politically and economically viable, functional and lasting.”

Anastasiades said a solution would create a win-win situation for all Cypriots, address the expectations, sensitivities and concerns of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, ensure a modern EU and UN member-state, establish Cyprus as an international paradigm of peaceful co-existence and rid the island of third-country military troops or guarantees, “an anachronism in today’s world”.

“It is my firm belief that the solution of the Cyprus Problem, would be first and foremost to the benefit of all Cypriots, creating conditions of peace, prosperity and a flourishing society, unlocking its full potential for future generations,” he said. “Regionally, it would turn Cyprus into a model-country of stability and predictability and would amplify Cyprus’ role as a security provider in one of the most turbulent areas of the world.

At a European level, he said it would “end the oxymoron” of having one of its member-states being divided, while it would also positively reinforce EU-Turkey’s relations and the overall security architecture of the EU.

Meanwhile Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci was holding a series of meetings with foreign leaders in the Big Apple.

Akinci met separately with Biden, as well as with the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide, and with the German foreign minister.


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