US Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul and try to negotiate a resumption of unification talks on Cyprus where the Turks have sent an energy research vessel in warship into Cypriot waters.
Biden, who is close to Erdogan, hopes to reduce the tension over Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone ((EEZ), which prompted Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to break off the peace talks he had kick started after long delays.
Biden is also due this weekend to meet Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during his visit, according to a report by the Athens News Agency with talks mostly focused on Cyprus and developments in the eastern Mediterranean region.
The United States has stopped short of urging Turkey to withdraw its vessels, trying to keep a balance as it needs Turkish support for Mideast ventures.
Meanwhile, the angst is growing. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized Cyprus for carrying out hydrocarbon explorations while the reunification talks were going on, even though the negotiations were going nowhere.
Cavusoglu said this was not a “goodwill gesture” on Nicosia’s part and downplayed Turkey’s actions in sending in a research vessel, guarded by a warship.
The Cypriot, ignoring him, rejected a proposal by the United Nation’s envoy to the country, Norway’s Espen Barth Eide, a technical committee consisting of Greek and Turkish Cypriots to be created to manage the island’s energy reserves.
Eide had proposed the panel as one of several measures aimed at getting peace talks restarted. Anastasiades reportedly will put back on the table his offer to create a common fund for revenues to be shared between Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriots from the sale of oil or gas.