UN Special Envoy Alexander Downer is stepping down as the UN Secretary-General’s special adviser, Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday.
In a statement welcoming the resumption of Cyprus talks, Ban said: “I also recognise the indispensable role played by my Special Adviser Mr. Alexander Downer to this point, beginning from his appointment in September 2008. Mr. Downer has informed me that now that the joint communique has been achieved, he has decided to take up a new position and step down as my Special Adviser. I thank him sincerely for his perseverance and commitment over the past five and a half years, and wish him well in his future endeavours.”
In a separate statement minutes later, Downer himself did not refer to his stepping down but said he welcomed the finalisation of a joint communiqué and the formal relaunch of the talks.
“I commend the leaders for their commitment to resuming negotiations and working towards the successful conclusion to the Cyprus problem,” said Downer. “I urge the sides to embrace the fact that it is in their interest to bridge their differences, agree on a common vision of the future between the two communities and conclude negotiations to achieve that vision.”
He said the UN would continue to support and encourage both parties “as they take this step together”, so as to reunify the island for the benefit of all Cypriots.
Ban also commended the leaders for their commitment to resuming negotiations “and for their hard work in the past months to reach what is an important statement of shared principles and invaluable basis for renewed talks”.
“The United Nations will continue to support the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in their efforts to reunify the island and move on from decades of separation. I personally pledge our resolute commitment to these efforts,” said Ban.