NICOSIA May 22 U.S. Vice President Joe Biden
said on Thursday he was optimistic Cypriots could overcome their
differences on the ethnically-split island, saying it was well
placed to becoming a key player in the energy market.
Biden, the most senior U.S. official to visit the east
Mediterranean island in more than half a century, said the
United States stood prepared to provide assistance in helping
Cypriots heal one of the oldest and most intractable conflicts
"Cyprus is poised to become a key player in the eastern
Mediterranean, transforming the eastern Mediterranean into a new
global hub for natural gas and markets," he said during a visit
to Cyprus's ethnically-split capital, Nicosia. "It is possible
to reach a settlement that reunites Cyprus as a bizonal
Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by
a brief Greek inspired coup, though the seeds of division were
sown in the 1960s when a power-sharing government of Greek and
Turkish Cypriots crumbled.
A settlement to the Cyprus issue has become more pressing
since the discovery of huge quantities of natural gas in the sea
area between Cyprus and Israel in recent years, and amplified by
the Ukraine crisis and the impact that could have on Russian gas
supplies to Europe.
A breakaway Turkish Cypriot state is recognised only by
Ankara. The Greek Cypriot government is internationally
recognised as recognising the whole island, and represents
Cyprus in the European Union.
A buffer zone corridor of no-man's land splitting the sides
is lined with crumbling buildings pockmarked with bullet holes,
a testament to past violence.
Underscoring sensitivities, a meeting with Turkish Cypriot
leader Dervis Eroglu in northern Cyprus took place on Greek
Cypriot conditions no symbols of the Turkish Cypriot statelet
state be present at the meeting.
(Reporting By Michele Kambas Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)