INTERNATIONAL > Great opportunity to solve Cyprus: Obama


US President Obama waxes optimistic about the prospects for progress in Cyprus. ‘We’re encouraged by the messages that have been coming out both communities,’ says Obama alongside with Samaras

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US President Barack Obama (R) speaks during his meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

US President Barack Obama (R) speaks during his meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras have given optimistic outlook over the stalled talks in the divided island of Cyprus.

“There’s a great opportunity as we speak for the decades-long conflict and tensions that exist in Cyprus to be resolved, and I think we’re both encouraged by the messages that have been coming out of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. And we’re going to be I think working very closely together to see if we can make progress on those fronts,” Obama said after meeting with Samaras at the White House on Aug. 8.

Numerous rounds of peace talks in the last four decades have ended in failure. The latest round that began in 2008 under U.N. envoy Alexander Downer stalled in May last year amid mutual recriminations over who was responsible for the stalemate. Downer recently said it would be a “major mistake” for the international community to take advantage of Greek Cypriots’ current financial crisis to pressure them into a deal reunifying the island.

For his part, Samaras said there’s a lot of synergies that they can have together in order to try and solve as much as they can those problems, including the problem of Cyprus. “I would also like to say that I told the President that we have found huge energy resources in a critical region. Cyprus, Israel and Greece can realign those resources in order to be able to satisfy the European demand, especially for natural gas,” Samaras said.

Greek Cyprus, Greece and Israel signed a deal on the same day to cooperate over energy and aiming at securing Europe’s energy supply. A memorandum of understanding was signed by Greek Cypriot Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis, his Greek counterpart Yannis Maniatis and Israel’s Silvan Shalom. Natural gas has been discovered offshore Israel and Greek Cyprus, and studies are underway on building a liquefied natural gas plant in Greek Cyprus.

Obama also called for more growth-oriented policies in Greece, saying the austerity has not been adequate to revive the country’s battered economy. Obama said he was confident in his visitor’s commitment to much-needed reforms.

“What we also agreed to, is that in dealing with the challenges that Greece faces, we cannot simply look at austerity for a strategy,” Obama said. “It’s important that we have a plan for fiscal consolidation to manage the debt,” he told reporters.

“But it’s also important that growth and jobs are our focus, because we know from history that those countries that have growth, countries where employment is high... people have an easier time easing the debt burdens than countries where people are feeling hopeless,” Obama added. Greece has struggled to meet targets set by the bailout program, which require it to boost tax collection, sell off state assets, and pare back government to narrow its deficit and cut borrowing needs.


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Notice on comments

George Atteshli

8/15/2013 9:44:05 AM

Murat, can you point us to credible sources and material that suggest that the Greek ethnos is an invention of the west?


8/13/2013 8:10:36 PM

As if it was the British who forced Greeks to ethnically cleanse Turkish Cypriots from the island and launch wars since their inception and invention by the West 150 years ago. It is the fault of everybody else but themselves!

Chris Green

8/13/2013 5:50:49 PM

Mark: Assumption is a weak foundation upon which to erect a structure of fact. I live in the UK and have done so for 2 1/2 years although I have lived in the TRNC. I have been to over 40 different countries and have lived in the ME, Turkey, TRNC over time. I hope to move back to Istanbul this year long term. You make barbed allusions to my freedom: I have answered that one here. You are wrong on Cyprus and me in unequal measure.

Mark Mark

8/13/2013 4:24:38 PM

@John Albay - the history of Cyprus did not begin in 63, the history of Cyprus is not only Sampson and Eoka B nor Markarios. Pick up a reliaible history book and not one sactioned by the Turksih state and read it, you will be amazed at what you will learn. You may be able to write a post that has some character and substance which we can all debate and take seriously.

john albay

8/13/2013 2:54:03 PM

@mark what utter rubbish you post,you have zero idea of what you are talking about but Mr green knows what really happened in cyprus. Do you know about EOKA B and the butcher sampson? No I am sure you dont. Do you know that the greek cypriots wanted to kick us Turkish cypriots into the sea?No you dont. In fact I think you do not know very much at all! The greek cypriots have lied for the last 40 years and they will not change any time soon.That is 1 of the reasons they went Bankrupt.

Mark Mark

8/13/2013 1:59:19 PM

Chris Green -the fact that I choose to live and pay my taxes in the UK rather than hide out in the north of Cyprus is tantamount to my patriotism.Questioning the UK's role in the past does not make you anti Brit, I have the freedom to do that.Gibraltar and the Falklands are radically different disputes so bear no relevance to this discussion.The UK is still repsponsible for the Cyprus problem.

Chris Green

8/13/2013 11:38:53 AM

" I will NOT modify my views on the history of Cyprus and do not have to rely on 500 characters per entry to do so thanks to the various titles I write for elsewhere"

Chris Green

8/13/2013 10:28:19 AM

Mr Mark: By the way you express your views (anti-Brit) I suspect that you believe we should cede Gibraltar to Spain and the Falklands to the Argies. If this is so then you are not a British patriot, quite the opposite in fact. In respect of Cyprus, I believe you have drank heavily on the Greek cup of propaganda and you express your views accordingly. I will modify my views on Cyprus history and I do not have to rely on 500 characters to express them given that I have my own columns elsewhere.

Mark Mark

8/12/2013 3:49:58 PM

Chris Green - Britain may have legally administered the island during the glorious days of Empire, but when it came to the Cypriots deciding their own fate, Britain made sure that it destroyed the island. Same as it did in Sri Lanka, Fiji, Kenya, India and so on. You completely ignore what we did to Cyprus to justify your comments and opinions.

Chris Green

8/12/2013 12:48:15 PM

I am covering this topic at length in other titles elsewhere this week. The entity that should be apologising and indeed compensating anyone is the Orthodox Church who, from February 1879 onwards, were petitioning for and agitating for Union with Greece. They were entirely complicit in the various uprisings (1912, 31, 55-59) whilst Makarious was one of the worst butchers of them all. The USA certainly interfered and continue to do so. Britain legally administered and ruled the island 1878-1959.
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