NICOSIA - USA Vice President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit has been cautiously welcomed by some local politicians while others are concerned it’s part of efforts to force an unfair solution to the Cyprus Problem.
The exact dates of the visit will be discussed on Friday in Washington between US secretary of state John Kerry and his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides.
Unconfirmed reports said the visit is taking place from May 21-23, during which Biden is expected to announce the USA’s funding of a master plan for the wider occupied-Famagusta region.
The Cyprus Problem, energy issues, the economy, developments in the Ukraine and Cyprus’ role in the region will also be on the agenda.
Quoting “reliable sources,” the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) yesterday reported that, as part of the master plan, experts will be allowed to inspect the fenced off area of Famagusta, known as Varosha.
CNA said: “The deal is all but done, even though there has been no confirmation by any of the parties involved. One of the pending issues is to clarify the prospect of the return of the sealed-off section of Varosha, under UN administration, as the Greek Cypriot side wants.”
Mine clearance in three areas, two in the government controlled areas and one in the Turkish occupied areas are expected to be undertaken during Biden’s visit.
While the US Vice President’s impending arrival was welcomed by some, Diko president Nicolas Papadopoulos expressed concern over the conditions under which Biden would be visiting the occupied areas.
“We have to ask: who will gain the most from Biden’s visit? Us or the pseudo state,” Papadopoulos said.
Also commenting on Biden’s visit yesterday, Houses Speaker and Edek president Yiannakis Omirou said it appeared, of all the members of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, only the USA currently appeared to be playing an active role in Cyprus Problem developments.
“Friendly countries such as Russia, France and China do not seem to be participating in efforts to solve the Cyprus Problem,” Omirou said.
European Party president Demetris Syllouris said although he believed the USA’s interest in solving the Cyprus Problem was for its own benefit: “We must use this interest in the right way for the benefit of Cyprus.”
The Green Party complained news of Biden’s visit had come through Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu before the Greek Cypriot side was officially informed.
A Citizens Alliance statement questioned whether secret agreements leading the people of Cyprus towards “a new Annan Plan” had been entered into.
Famagusta Mayor Alexis Galanos was more optimistic yesterday describing Biden’s visit as a very positive development and said he would be requesting a meeting with him.