Downer to present Maras proposal to Davutoglu

Alexander Downer, the UN Special Advisor on Cyprus will be meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu today. Amongst other issues, he will present the Greek Cypriot proposal for the return of Maras. The South says that this would be a huge confidence-building measure to get the new peace talks started with renewed energy.

The South Cyprus government spokesman Christos Stylianides yesterday welcomed the fact that Downer would raise the issue with Davutoglu.

“The issue of Famagusta has been raised and there is a behind the scenes diplomatic process at work,” he said, calling on the media to let diplomacy do its job.

“I don’t think anybody doubts that if the Greek Cypriot proposal on the issue of Famagusta is accepted this will give a new momentum and thrust to the talks,” he said.

Downer was in Cyprus this week to meet with the the Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiators for the two sides, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Osman Ertug and Presidents Eroglu and Anastasiades. The two negotiators met yesterday to discuss how the talks will start and progress.

Downer hosted a dinner for Mavroyiannis and Ertug on Tuesday night, while meeting with Anastasiades and Eroglu on Wednesday.

Following his meetings with Anastasiades, Downer said talks would start once the necessary preparation was “properly done”.

He expressed the view that a solution would give the economy on both sides of the island “a huge boost”.

Downer confirmed that he would inform Davutoglu today on Anastasiades’ proposal for the return of the fenced off part of Famagusta- Maras- to the Greek Cypriots. Downer left for Ankara yesterday to meet with the Turkish foreign minister.

Speaking earlier in the week, Downer said a way had to be found to put “a new spark of excitement” into the process, which would raise people’s hopes and ensure they have “reasonable and positive expectations” that something will happen after at least 39 years of talks.

Meanwhile, Anastasiades yesterday briefed party leaders on his meeting with Downer and also discussed the letter he plans to send Eroglu in response to an initial letter sent by the Turkish Cypriot President Eroglu seeking a commitment from the president that the talks would start from where they left off.

Stylianides said the president and party leaders enjoyed a “convergence of views and common stance” on how to reply to Eroglu.

Anastasiades also briefed party leaders on letters under preparation that will be sent to the UN Secretary-General, the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, and the Presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament.

Regarding the start of peace talks, the spokesman said the Greek Cypriot-appointed negotiator Mavroyiannis was receiving instructions from Anastasiades on a regular basis regarding the necessary groundwork.

Asked whether the talks would start next month, Stylianides said the most important issue was to be well prepared ahead of the talks so that, if possible, they can start with “a new momentum”.

He added: “There is no question of changing the basis of negotiations”.

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