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Our View: the US can play a vital, supporting role in the Cyprus process

U.s. President Elect Joe Biden Announces Announces National Security Team At His Transition Headquarters In Wilmington, Delaware
Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state

After the four-year hiatus of the Trump presidency, the United States appears to have taken an interest in the Cyprus problem once again. On Wednesday, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed the administration’s full support for bizonal, bicommunal federation and said: “We will engage in the efforts to advance that prospect, including supporting the critical role of the United Nations, as well as direct American engagement in that effort.”

He could not have been more direct about American intentions for the region which centre on promoting US security, “as well as the security of other countries, including partners.” While the US had been critical of Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean, Blinken said it was critical for the US to insist that any disputes arising would “be solved peacefully, diplomatically, not militarily and certainly not through provocative actions.” He also noted that Turkey through engagement with the EU was trying to proceed in a more constructive way, indicating the US is not the same wavelength with the EU on the eastern Mediterranean.

Is this good or bad news for Cyprus? Strangely, none of the traditionally anti-US, rejectionist parties, that are dogmatically opposed to US involvement in the Cyprus problem said anything. The government welcomed the position taken by the US administration, which could be “helpful to the efforts we are making for solving the Cyprus problem,” and gave credit to President Anastasiades for the development, which “proved the correctness of the importance the president attached to the upgrading of relations with the US.”

The reality is that the US had undertaken many initiatives to help the two sides reach an agreement, long before Anastasiades upgraded relations, because a Cyprus settlement and regional cooperation would help implement US security plans for the region. It is in this context US interest should be seen. Regional cooperation on energy was Biden’s main message when he visited Cyprus as Vice President, in 2014, and this appears still to be the priority as Blinken’s comments in the House indicated. The US, like the EU, want a Cyprus settlement because the current situation is causing problems to relations with Turkey and affecting the West’s security plans for the region.

This is the reason the US will engage in the peace process and why there will be immense pressure on both sides to reach a deal, which is no bad thing. The US can play a vital, supporting role in the process if it decides to do so.

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