US Vice President Biden speaking at Harvard Kennedy School said that there is a “new opportunity” for a “win-win” breakthrough involving Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel by constructing a gas pipeline from the Levant Basin gas fields to Greece and Europe, ‘Arutz Sheva Online’ reports.
Answering a Cypriot-born Harvard student’s question as to how the US evaluated Turkey’s role in the Eastern Mediterranean energy map, Biden said that with respect to the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus, “the world is changing” and that he had been “deeply involved and passionately engaged” with the Cyprus problem since the mid-1970s.
In particular having recently returned from a state visit to Cyprus and having met Presidents Anastasiades and Eroglu, Biden said that three fundamental changes had evolved:
First –“Turkey fully understands that it is no longer in its interests, they have no interest to have troops remaining on Cyprus. None, whatsoever.” Turkey had invaded the northern part of Cyprus in 1974 in response to a Greek-engineered coup.
Second – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “has made the break with the only constituency to whom ‘occupation’ mattered, and that was the military.”
Third – Biden said of Erdogan: “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 and [two], he is beginning to realize, 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.”
Having just met with the Greek Cypriots, the Israelis, and Turkey, Biden said that “what is starting to happen” is that “there is a new possibility,” and where “new opportunities present themselves where they can benefit”. Biden noted “the irony” that the Levant Basin Gas finds may be the “lubricant to bring an end” to a very difficult situation that exists on Cyprus today.
Biden advised“not to dwell on the past” but to “look at the opportunities presented” in the future, and “see if there is a ‘win-win’ situation for everybody.”
Biden closed by saying he was hopeful and that, in Cyprus, he is reminded of George Mitchell’s comment about the Northern Ireland-Great Britain peace accords that there were “700 days of failure, and one day of success.” Biden said that he personally believes that in Cyprus, ”we’ll find the one day of success.”