Biden heads to Istanbul amid tension over Cyprus EEZ violation

US Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during a visit to Istanbul this weekend, according to a report by the Athens News Agency on Wednesday.

Talks are expected to focus on the Cyprus issue and developments in the eastern Mediterranean region.

Speaking ahead of the trip, an unnamed senior White House official told reporters that it was important that the two sides on the island resume peace negotiations and avoid actions that would result into tension, the report said.

President Nicos Anstasiades suspended peace talks with Turkish-Cypriots last month after Ankara violated Cyprus's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized Nicosia for carrying out hydrocarbon explorations off Cyprus at a time when reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots are still in progress.

Cavusoglu said this was not a “goodwill gesture” on Nicosia’s part but he played down the significance of Turkey sending the Barbaros seismic research vessel into Cyprus’s EEZ.

The Cypriot government, however, was unmoved by Cavusoglu’s comments and a meeting of the National Council, chaired by Anastasiades, led to Nicosia rejecting a suggestion by United Nations mediator Espen Barth Eide for a technical committee consisting of Greek and Turkish Cypriots to be created to manage the island’s hydrocarbon reserves.

Eide had proposed the panel as one of several measures aimed at getting peace talks restarted. Instead, Anastasiades will propose steps that had been previously agreed by Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to defuse tension. These include the creation of a common fund for revenues from...

Continue reading on: