Mixed reaction in South Cyprus to the
visit of US vice-president
US vice-president Joe Biden’s visit to Cyprus next week has drawn mixed responses in South Cyprus, with ruling greek Cypriot DISY welcoming the move and detractors focusing on the Turkish Cypriot leg of the visit.
Monday’s announcement of Biden’s arrival on May 21 clarified that he will “meet with political leaders from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, civil society representatives and religious leaders.” Reports from Washington suggested that the agenda would focus on a “master-plan” to finance the rebuilding of the occupied town of Famagusta, and that the deal – which would also feature the demining of three minefields – would be announced shortly after the visit’s conclusion.
Government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides described Biden’s upcoming visit as “extremely significant”, asserting that it indicative of the US’ increased interest in the Cyprus problem.
But local political parties in the south were more sceptical and shifted their focus on what they saw as the visit’s potential downsides.
“The government is celebrating because the American vice-president will visit the occupied areas,” said DIKO leader Nikolas Papadopoulos, suggesting that the visit would effectively equate the Republic of Cyprus with the “breakaway regime” in the north.
“We must ask who will gain the most from this visit,” Papadopoulos said. “Us or the pseudo-state?”
The Citizens’ Alliance offered similar rhetoric, with its leader Yiorgos Lillikas noting that the White House press release announcing the visit made no mention to the “Republic of Cyprus.”
“The implication is that the USA wants to meet the two leaders in Cyprus, thus downgrading the Cyprus Republic,” he said.
Communist AKEL – which supported President Anastasiades in the February joint declaration that allowed the resumption of negotiations on the Cyprus problem – also welcomed Biden’s visit and called for the government to engage our “traditional allies, like the Russian Federation” more decisively.
“If we send the message that we are not capable of progress ourselves, the risk of an outside solution being imposed will increase significantly,” AKEL’s spokesman Yiorgos Loukaides said. “That is why everyone should respect the basic convergences achieved [between the two communities].”
Picking up the government’s theme, ruling DISY’s leader Averof Neophytou expressed the hope for “some announcements that would improve the climate between the two communities” and wondered whether the parties opposing the visit would like to see it cancelled.
Speaking after a Tuesday morning meeting with US ambassador John Koening, Neophytou cited Lyndon Johnson’s 1962 arrival to Cyprus as the last time a US vice-president had visited the island.
Source: Cyprus Mail