World Bulletin / News Desk
On Thursday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden became the first senior American official to visit the island of Cyprus for the first time in 52 years. Visiting to boost the peace talks between the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots, Biden met both Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) president Dervis Eroglu.
However, in his visit to the presidential palace in the TRNC capital Lefkosa (Nicosia), crowds noticed that the TRNC flag, along with the Turkey flag, were missing. According to local reports, the flags were removed when Biden told officials that he didn't want to be photographed with the flags in the pictures. He also refused to pose for the press with President Eroglu.
After meeting with Greek Cypriot officials south of the U.N.-controlled border, Joe Biden made his way to the TRNC where he was greeted by Turkish Cypriots waving TRNC and Turkey flags. However, these flags were not present at the presidential palace when he met President Eroglu, angering many Turkish Cypriots who pointed out that the Greek Cypriot flag was present during his meeting with Anastasiades.
'We will not forgive those who accept our people to be degraded via the removal of our flags and symbols just because the American vice president has come. What do you expect from an American official who neither poses for pictures with you nor respects your position?' TRNC Sovereignty Movement Initiative group founder Emete Gozuguzelli said on Facebook.
Kibris Time columnist Levent Ozadam also slammed the removal of the flags. 'Biden promises us that this time things will be different. We are sure of this, but different in what way? How are you going to deal justly and equally between two peoples and bring back the long-awaited and missed solution when you recognize one flag but not the other?' he said.
Huseyin Ekmekci, on the other hand, wrote in the Havadis newspaper: 'What difference does it make where the flag is? Let's focus on what's important. Let's focus on the Eroglu-Biden meeting...Bring the biggest flag and I will be the first to embrace it and hang it high, but the TRNC is not dependent on just a flag,' he said.
The TRNC is only recognized by Turkey after a coup against the Cypriot government by Greek far-right militia EOKA in July 1974 forced Turkey to exercize its right as a constitutional guarantor of peace. In the military intervention, Turkish troops took control of the northern half of the island, which became a safe haven for persecuted Turkish Cypriots. Nine years later, Turkish Cypriots officially announced the independence of the TRNC after attempts to reinstate the Cypriot government failed.
However, according to the international community, the TRNC's independence is not recognized and is considered to be an area under Turkish occupation. Turkey, on the other hand, does not recognize the globally accepted Greek Cypriot administration in the south of the island.
Biden visit 'positive' says Turkish Cypriot president
Turkish Cypriot President Dervis Eroglu has said U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the island on Thursday had raised hopes on finding a solution to the crisis in Cyprus.
Speaking in a press conference Thursday, Eroglu said Biden's visit will have a positive impact on the issue.
He and Biden agreed that the possibility of achieving unity in the currently divided island of Cyprus - opposing a southern Greek side to a northern Turkish side-- relied on a comprehensive solution.
Eroglu also said that they agreed on accelerating negotiations and meeting more often with the Greek side.
He also announced that he would meet Greek Cypriot administration leader Nicos Anastasiades, who Biden also met on Thursday, twice every month following an agreement reached late Thursday night.
He added that a comprehensive solution would lead to an opportunity to join the European Union and to be recognized by the international community.Last Mod: 23 Mayıs 2014, 12:46