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Downer snubs Anastasiades

15 January 2014

It has become apparent that UN special envoy, Alexander Downer’s postponement of his visit to the island was a snub. Sources revealed that Downer was offended by remarks made by President Anastasiades on national TV last week.

He said that most political parties in the South and the public in general had lost confidence in the UN envoy, adding that Downer lacked objectivity about the negotiations. The president said that this raised doubts about the UN envoy’s ability to provide anything constructive to the peace process. Certain persons with close links to the peace talks yesterday confirmed this. “He [Downer] did not want to see Anastasiades after he insulted him,” said a source.

Added to this, Downer waited until Anastasiades left yesterday on a four-day visit to London before arriving on the island today, and he will leave on Friday before Anastasiades returns that evening.

Downer is due to meet the chief negotiators Andreas Mavroyiannis and Osman Ertug. UNFICYP spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux told the Cyprus News Agency that Downer was due to arrive around noon today and would have separate meetings with the two men in the afternoon. Bonnardeaux said there were no immediate plans for meetings between Downer and the two leaders.

‘Havadis’ also reported that Downer was frustrated that agreement could not be reached on the joint declaration that was to help restart the stalled Cyprus negotiations. “If an agreement is not reached during Downer’s visit on Thursday, which is reportedly expected to be a short one, the UN Secretary General’s adviser will inform the Security Council of the failure of his efforts and the reasons for this failure,” the paper reported.

The last draft text of the elusive joint declaration was sent by the Greek Cypriot side via the UN to the Turkish Cypriots who rejected it without any counter-proposal on 27th December, 2013.

Recently, President Anastasiades, wrote a brief letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, suggesting a shorter joint declaration, which would include references to specific UN Security Council resolutions. In the letter he also insisted that the UN finally realise its role is implementation, not interpretation or misinterpretation, of UN resolutions.

The same sources privy to the Cyprus talks said that another source of frustration for the UN was that it did not regard Downer as a Security Council agent but a representative of the Good Offices of the Secretary General. The implication was that if there was a deal on the table, then many of the UN resolutions agreed to over the years could become open to debate. “What the UN is looking for is a compromise deal,” the sources said.

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