Anastasiades lashes out at Downer

The Cyprus peace talks appear to be more remote that ever following an outburst by an angry President Anastasiades. The South Cyprus president said that the South would not be blackmailed into recommencing the peace negotiations nor would it be forced into adhering to a strict timetable.

The president’s comments followed a statement issued by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon which expressed the hope that both leaders would overcome the deadlock when Special Advisor on Cyprus, Alexander Downer arrives in Cyprus and set a date for negotiations to begin without further delay.

In the past months, representatives from both sides have been trying to lay the groundwork for negotiations, which were mooted for last month.

Alexander Downer, who arrives in Cyprus on Monday, came in for special criticism when the president said:

“Some should not live with the illusion that they will obtain laurels of success if they think they could lead us through blackmail in to a dialogue for the sake of the dialogue,” he said, adding “we do not live in Australia; we live in Cyprus with its own particularities.”

“And they who are obliged to implement resolutions, should consider they should be the ones to uphold them and not promote the views of one side to expose the other,” he said.

This will not be the first time that the UN’s special advisor has faced criticism and accusations of bias against the Greek Cypriot side; several politicians have called for him to be replaced.

Anastasiades added that the National Council (top advisory body of the President in the handling of the Cyprus Problem) will convene in the coming days to assess developments, noting he is certain that an answer will be found.

Last week, Turkish Cypriot President Eroglu accused the Greek Cypriot side of dragging out the negotiation process, adding that it is the Turkish Cypriot side, which is being compelled to make an agreement. One particular stumbling block, is the Greek Cypriot demand for the return of Maras/Varosha as a pre-condition to opening the talks, in exchange for allowing free trade at Famagusta port and opening up certain chapters for Turkey’s EU accession.

The Cyprus problem has dragged on for nearly 40 years, with negotiations failing each time. Now it appears that they may not even begin unless both sides reach an agreement on the framework and substance of the negotiations.

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