Downer returns to Cyprus tonight

Alexander Downer, met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York last night.

The Secretary-General was briefed by his Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, on efforts being made in Cyprus towards restarting negotiations since the Secretary-General met with the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders in New York in September.

Recalling that Security Council Resolution 2114 dated 30 July 2013 welcomed the intention to resume negotiations in October 2013, and pointing to the limited window of opportunity to achieve a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus,  Secretary-General Ban expressed concern over the continuing impasse on the making of a joint statement which has prevented the reopening of negotiations. He expressed the hope that the two leaders would overcome this deadlock during the upcoming visit of his Special Adviser, Alexander Downer who will be in Cyprus between 4th and 8th November, and reach a decision on any other outstanding issues so that the date for the first leaders’ meeting can be set and full-fledged negotiations can resume without further delay.

Ban once again expressed his full confidence in his Special Adviser and strong appreciation for the work of the Good Offices mission in Cyprus.

Downer’s stay in New York will be short as he is expected to arrive in Cyprus tonight. He will be meeting the two community leaders separately next week and their respective negotiators in an effort to find ways out of the current deadlock.

The two sides cannot agree on a joint opening statement which will formulate a blueprint for the talks; one of the preconditions being that there be some kind of package involving the return of Maras/Varosha to the Greek Cypriots in exchange for freeing up the port of Famagusta and opening chapters to further Turkey’s EU accession. The TRNC government and Turkey are adamant that Maras will be discussed in the latter stages of negotiations.

Further, the two sides are already at odds over the nature of a federal Cyprus, particularly how it will come into being, and what ‘single sovereignty’ and ‘single citizenship’ actually mean for the two constituent states, thus leaving the start of talks in the Doldrums.

A diplomatic source said yesterday that, “a critical sense of uncertainty looms over the Cyprus peace process.”

After so many months without a resumption of the peace talks, the situation is viewed as “serious, if not desperate”.

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