Washington has reasons to believe that Turkey is “genuinely interested” in seeing a permanent solution to the long-lasting Cyprus problem, US Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias.
Diplomatic sources in Athens told journalists today after a meeting between Kerry and Foreign Minister Kotzias, that the State Department is “in regular communication” with officials in Turkey dealing with the Cyprus issue, and they estimate that Ankara “seems to have a genuine desire to see the problem on the island solved and the two communities living peacefully together”.
On Thursday, Secretary Kerry was in Nicosia where he held separate meetings with President Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot Leader Mustafa Akinci. He told both leaders that in the light of the general instability in the Middle East and the southeastern basin of the Mediterranean, a solution to the Cyprus problem at this time “will hold a powerful symbolism for peace and stability” in the region.
John Kerry briefed his Greek counterpart on his talks with the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, which have been forcefully separated since 1974 when the Turkish army invaded the island and occupied almost half of its area in the north. He spoke of “very productive discussions”, and “an excellent dinner”.
The Greek Foreign Minister told Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that Kerry is “as optimistic as one can be”, and “as cautious as one should be”, about an issue as complicated as the Cyprus problem.
According to diplomatic sources, the two officials exchanged views on the security measures all sides agree must be taken, in order to make Greek and Turkish Cypriots feel that they will be able to live together in safety and in peace. “Some specific issues were discussed concerning safety measures”, the source told CNA, but refrained from giving further details.
It has also been known that Washington “expects Athens to influence the Greek Cypriot side to keep pushing for a solution”, even if difficulties come up along the way. “This is Cyprus’s big chance”, John Kerry said on Thursday evening before flying from Nicosia to Athens.
On other issues, the Secretary of State said that USA relationship with Greece “is unbreakable” and “a good example of countries that can weather the storm and tighten their friendship”.
“We stand together in the counter-ISIS coalition and with our other NATO allies we will defeat this violent extremism”.
The best solution in resolving the refugee crisis, which he described as “a humanitarian catastrophe of a gigantic scale”, is to bring the war in Syria to an end, invite the opposition and all other parties to the table with the Assad regime, get into discussion and let the Syrians decide what to do after the war is over and Daesh is destroyed.
Furthermore, Secretary Kelly said that the refugee crisis is not solely a Greek problem, neither a Turkish one or any other. It is a global problem, and we should all help, he stressed.
Kerry also referred to Greece’s energy program. He applauded the governments agreements for the completion of the TAP and Bulgarian pipelines, and said that these projects create new opportunities for USA investments in Greece.
“That’s the way to do it”, he stressed, adding that “we will spread the word to our companies in the States, that Greece is open for business.”
Secretary of State had a brief meeting with Prime Minister Tsipras, and told him that the USA will help the Greek government in its effort to exit the economic crisis and to get back on track with development and social stability.