UN Secretary General`s Special Advisor on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide has told CNA that the strong and dedicated support of the United States for the peace process in Cyprus will continue.
Eide is in Washington D.C. for a series of meetings with U.S. Administration officials and key members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. He has also met with key Greek American leaders.
“We had several good meetings here, across the D.C. system. The strong and dedicated support from the United States will continue,” Espen Barth Eide said.
“There is a strong and sustained interest and express of support here, despite of the new administration being in the middle of establishing themselves”, he added.
Eide met on Monday at the Department of State with the acting Deputy Secretary of State Tom Shannon.
The Deputy Spokesman of the State Department, Mark Toner, told the correspondents during Tuesday`s press briefing that they welcome Eide`s visit.
“Tom Shannon met with him to reaffirm strong US support for the Special Advisor and the Cypriot led UN facilitated process to reunify the island as a bizonal bicommunal federation. Based on the considerable progress made by the Cypriot leaders, we believe this is the best chance in decades, to achieve a lasting and comprehensive solution”, he said.
Toner stressed that the State Department hopes “the leaders will return as soon as possible to the negotiating table as soon as possible` and the reassured that the United States “remains prepared to offer any assistance the leaders would consider useful.”
The Special Advisor also met on Tuesday with Vice President Pence`s National Security Advisor, Andrea Thompson at the White House and he twitted that “they discussed the strategic importance of a settlement in Cyprus.”
He also met with Assistant Secretary of State for International Organisations, Tracy Ann Jacobson with whom they touched upon the future role of the UN in Cyprus.
Later he met with Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker. On Wednesday he is expected to have meeting with key members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Earlier in the morning he met with Greek American leaders. The executive director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) Endy Zemenides, along with Andy and Mike Manatos of the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes were present at the meeting, with PSEKA` s President Philp Christopher participating through teleconference.
One of the Greek American participants described the meeting good, saying that they exchanged ideas on the way ahead. Eide was seeking suggestions on various issues and answered questions on the present status of the negotiations and open issues.
On Wednesday afternoon Eide will participate in an open discussion entitled “Strategic & Sustainable Development for a Unified Cyprus”, organised by the Atlantic Council, Concordia and a US organisation called “One Cyprus Now”.
Former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan Cohen and Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis will be among the participants.
The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member since 2004, has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. UN – led talks between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities resumed in May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof. The talks were interrupted in mid February by the Turkish Cypriot side, which demands that a decision passed by the Cypriot Parliament relating to a 1950 referendum on union with Greece is revoked, claiming this indicates a shift in the Greek Cypriot goal of a federal solution. The House decision notes that there will be a very brief reference to the referendum at schools.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has described the House decision as wrong and called on the leader of the Turkish Cypriot side, Mustafa Akinci, who walked out of the talks, to return to the negotiating table to discuss pending issues with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement to reunite the country.