Turkish deputy PM lauds Biden’s visit to Cyprus

Turkish deputy PM lauds Biden’s visit to Cyprus

Turkish deputy PM lauds Biden’s visit to Cyprus

American and Cypriot flags fly in Nicosia on May 21, 2014 ahead of the arrival of US Vice President Joe Biden. AFP Photo

A senior member of the Turkish government has praised efforts by both the European Union and the United States for the resolution of the four-decade-long Cyprus issue, while voicing enthusiasm over U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Cyprus.

“We consider it extremely positive,” Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay told reporters on May 21 when asked to comment on the “U.S.’ active stance for the resolution of the Cyprus issue.”

“This time, negotiations have been working out productively. Frankly, we consider efforts by both the EU and the U.S. useful on that [issue],” Atalay added.

Appreciative remarks by the deputy prime minister who is in charge of Cyprus affairs came the day when Biden was set to arrive to the divided island for a visit marking the first by a U.S. vice president in 52 years.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey militarily intervened in affairs on the island after a coup led by supporters of a union with Greece. Turkey alone recognizes the Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and maintains 35,000 troops in the north of the island.

Negotiations resumed in February after the two sides agreed on a joint statement outlining key principles of an envisioned federation.

Recalling that Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu visited Turkish Cyprus over the weekend, Atalay said the speaker of Turkish Cypriot’s Assembly Sibel Siber will visit Ankara on May 23 in order to assess Biden’s visit.

Turkey has been closely following the Biden’s visit, Atalay said and added: “In fact, this time, we are hopeful for the negotiation process.”