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Biden visit to Cyprus linked to Famagusta plans, says refugee mayor

11 May, 2014

The Greek Cypriot refugee mayor of Famagusta, Alexis Galanos, said that a forthcoming visit to the island by US Vice President Joe Biden would be “a very positive development.”


Already, politicians and civil society have been commenting on the visit which they see as being timed with Washington’s efforts to get the Cyprus peace talks restarted and towards a conclusive deal in the near future to de-escalate the tension created by Turkey over its ambitions on eastern Mediterranean energy resources.
The official Cyprus News Agency reported Monday that “on the occasion of Biden’s visit, the Americans are expected to announce the financing of a project for the reconstruction of Famagusta, including the fenced-off part of the town.”
The fate of the ghost town, patrolled by UN peacekeepers, has become the key point in discussions for ‘confidence building measures’ that would restore trust in both communities – the Turkish Cypriots would be able to use the port of Famagusta for international trade, while the Greek Cypriots would see tens of thousands returning to their homes, under UN supervision.
Abandoned by its Greek Cypriot inhabitants as they fled the advancing Turkish troops in the summer of 1974, Varosha has remained under Turkey’s direct control since then.
The UN has called for the return of the town to its lawful inhabitants but so far Ankara refuses to comply with such calls.
Invited by CNA to comment on Biden’s visit, Galanos said that the Municipality has no information on this issue so far, and that it will ask to meet with Biden during his visit to the island.
He described the forthcoming visit as very positive both for Famagusta and the Cyprus problem.
“We will ask to be informed and to have a meeting with him, both from the government and the US Embassy,” the noted.