By Christos Meliopoulos – Nicosia
The eagerly anticipated meeting between the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer took place in Nicosia’s Presidential Palace on Wednesday afternoon.
The meeting was delayed by a few hours following a request by the Cypriot leader. Although one could argue that the delay was a way for the Cypriot side to show its disapproval of Mr Downer’s backstage dealings, the government spokesman tried to make clear that it was due to parallel efforts on another front. Christos Stylianides said the President had considered the meeting to be of no substance at the initially set time (noon) due to the parallel effort by the UN to bring the Turkish Cypriot side round to composing the joint leaders’ statement, set as a prerequisite for talks by President Anastasiades. The UN are said to have acted on a specific proposal submitted by the Greek Cypriot side, but with no encouraging response by the Turkish Cypriots.
As regards the talks between the two men that took place late in the afternoon, a Nicosia diplomat set the scene by remarking that Nicos Anastasiades’s public statements against Mr Downer accurately reflect his lack of trust of the Australian UN official. Under such circumstances the meeting was bound to be a case of bitter exchanges or rather of scathing criticism on behalf of the Cypriot president.
“The President made clear to the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General that he will not participate in talks for the sake of holding talks if there has not been a joint statement first, a statement including the basic principles of the Cyprus issue settlement, on the basis of the UN resolutions,” Mr Stylianides told reporters.
He and other officials were also saying that the Cypriot president was putting across his arguments and criticism in the meeting with Mr Downer “in a very intense way”, leaving no doubt that he questions the way the United Nations go about fulfilling their mission of good services.
But Mr Downer wanted to show that he attempted to mend the broken link with Nicosia, trying to save some of his lost credibility. He said he remained optimistic about the joint statement of Anastasiades and Eroglu.
More importantly, he stressed that there has been no ultimatum regarding the timeframe for the joint statement. What Mr Downer tried to clarify was that the Friday deadline that Ban Ki-moon has given the Cypriots to come up with the settlement principles statement was just an attempt to move things forward, making use of Mr Downer’s presence in the island.
“This does not mean that if the weekend comes without an agreement on the joint statement there will be consequences”, he commented. He also avoided questions on the possibility of him resigning his post. “I find my job very interesting and what is important now is making sure the joint statement is agreed and that every effort is undertaken to achieve this.”
As for Nicosia’s next moves, government officials are calm and collected as they say all decisions will be made after careful considerations within the negotiating team and the National Council.