UN Special Advisor Downer expected in Cyprus today

The UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on the Cyprus issue, Alexander Downer is planning on visiting the island today.

The two Cypriot presidents held an informal dinner meeting at a restaurant in the UN Buffer Zone on Monday 25th November and notably, Downer was not present.

The informal presidential meeting was suggested by President Anastasiades as the agreement on the content of a joint statement proved to be and continues to be the stumbling block to the renewal of the Cyprus negotiations.

President Eroglu, speaking to a group of Turkish journalists on Friday 29th November, said that having accepted the draft joint statement prepared by Alexander Downer, the Greek Cypriot had President rejected it. Eroglu went on to say that substantive issues, for example Varosha had been raised to be added to the joint statement but that these issues should be part of the negotiating process and not form preconditions for the start of talks. Elsewhere he said that there had been no UN requirement to issue a joint statement prior to negotiations in the past.

President Anastasiades, having suggested the meeting, wanted to exclude Downer. Turkish Cypriot officials said that the Greek Cypriot side was quite “aggressive” during the presidential meeting in November. It has been suggested that that may have been the reason why the Greek Cypriot president did not want the UN envoy to be present at the dinner meeting.

Last month Downer was the subject of an outburst of criticism by President Anastasiades, who accused the UN envoy of being partisan and promoting the Turkish Cypriots’ point of view. He said that no one should expect to gain laurels by using blackmail to launch a dialogue.

Even though Downer arrives today, a UN spokesman said that meetings were still in the planning stage.

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