PPI – Cyprus International Fellow Ryan Hage writes about the visit of United States Vice President Joe Biden and the work he is trying to accomplish during his 3-day stay on the island.
This week United States Vice President Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden visited the island of Cyprus. The most senior U.S. official to visit Cyprus in more than 50 years (Lyndon Johnson visited Cyprus in 1962), Biden’s primary goals on this trip were to discuss alternative energy routes into Europe and to get a deeper understanding of the conflict that has been a part of the island for decades.
The island has been alive the past week preparing for his arrival and, as an American, I am excited to see such an important figure from my home nation trying to assist in any way possible. Associate Professor of History and Political Science at the University of Nicosia, Hubert Faustmann, said, “It is the most visible sign yet of a new and renewed American commitment to finding a speedy solution to the Cyprus problem.”
Biden stated upon his arrival, “Peace is always possible. But it requires engagement, not just from leaders, but from citizens. In that respect I’m encouraged to hear about the joint initiatives from Cypriot political and civic and business leaders, historic religious services and dialogue, and the restoration of sacred sites throughout the island.”
Cyprus has been politically and ethnically divided since 1974. Today, there are several organizations working to promote peace and dialogue between the two communities. PeacePlayers-Cyprus was founded in 2006 on the principle that children who can play together can learn to live together, believing in the power of sport to bridge divides and change perceptions. Every day that one of our coaches goes to practice, they know that their job is more than just basketball – it is about developing young leaders that will one day grow up to help lead the charge in creating a more peaceful island.
Our Managing Director, Jale Canlibalik, was invited to a Cypriot Civil Leaders event with Biden at Ledra Palace. At the event Biden gave a speech in which he went over the United States’ commitment to assisting in finding a solution in any way needed. Jale had the chance to meet Vice President Biden and talk to him about PeacePlayers’ mission. Biden told her that, “PeacePlayers is doing great work. You are the hope for the future.”
Overall, it was an amazing day for PeacePlayers-Cyprus!