Cyprus leaders’ joint statement progressing at snail’s pace

Alexander Downer, the UN special advisor on Cyprus has made an attempt to assure all parties that the statement issued by Ban Ki-moon, was not intended to be an ultimatum.

Last week the UN Secretary General said that he hoped that both Cypriot leaders would be able to break the existing deadlock and resolve any remaining issues in order to set a date when both Presidents could meet.

“I appreciate that has been interpreted that way, but the Secretary General was simply alluding to the fact that I was coming back here this week, and he really wanted to see the joint declaration. But it doesn’t mean that when the end of this week arrives, that the joint declaration if it hasn’t been agreed, will lead to some other consequence,” Downer said.

“The SG’s position is that he is in favour of this joint declaration. I think it is important to understand that and not to say as some headlines in the media that this is an ultimatum. This is not an ultimatum,” he went on to say.

He also commented on the joint process to reach a common statement: “it’s inching ahead, it’s not leaping ahead,” adding that he hoped that agreement could be reached as soon as possible.

Downer who has lately been under fire by President Anastasiades, was asked if he thought that the president had confidence in him, his diplomatic response was that the UN will do all it can consistent with the UNSC resolutions and to contribute towards achieving a solution to the Cyprus problem.

He noted that that he had spent a number of years on this problem and the current challenge was to arrive at a conclusion for a joint statement. He added that he was optimistic about this and believed that both leaders would enter into negotiations. He also emphasised that this process was not about him.

Once again, President Anastasiades told Downer that he would not be part of any negotiations which was not prefaced by a joint statement outlining basic principles for achieving a solution to the Cyprus problem.

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