Cyprus Mail

UN assures that dinner only a social event

Downer under 'attack'

By Stefanos Evripidou
THE GOVERNMENT has received the “appropriate assurances” from the UN, freeing President Nicos Anastasiades to enjoy a purely “social” dinner with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu at the end of the month.
Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday that the UN has responded to concerns raised by Anastasiades in a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week.
In a rather bizarre move by the new government, Anastasiades sent a letter to Ban on May 17 accusing UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer and his team of undermining the president’s credibility and the prospects of resuming peace talks between the two sides by creating political expectations of the planned dinner.
The letter was leaked to the media on the same day it was sent to UN headquarters. In the letter, Anastasiades threatened to pull out of the UN-hosted dinner between himself and Eroglu next week, unless the UN chief could provide personal assurances that it would be a “social event” only.
The government accused Downer of attempting to put a very political slant to the dinner which was originally meant to be a first ‘meet-and-greet’ over UN-inspired food between the two community leaders following Anastasiades’ election in February.
The president has made it clear in numerous public statements that his number one priority now is to manage the economic fallout from the EU/IMF-inspired ‘bail-in’ bailout of the country which has crippled its banking sector, raided citizens’ and businesses’ bank accounts and seen the first ever capital controls imposed in the eurozone.
He proposed peace talks begin in the autumn, adding that in the meantime, the Turkish government could go some way in tackling Greek Cypriots’ mistrust of Turkey by opening the fenced off part of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants, in exchange for direct trade between the EU and the occupied north.
In his letter to Ban, Anastasiades failed to go into detail as to how Downer was attempting to pour political sauce over the bicommunal feast, the date for which has been changed several times.
Eroglu initially wanted to have the meeting at the end of April. This was later changed to May 29. However, when the Greek Cypriot side took greater note of the fact that this date coincided with the fall of Constantinople in1453, the dinner was pushed back to May 30.
Some commentators argue that Anastasiades is so knee-deep in economic strife, with the existence of the island’s biggest lender, Bank of Cyprus, hanging by a thread that his policy on the Cyprus problem has been one of containment and pandering to the more reactionary forces within Greek Cypriot politics, at least until substantial talks can proceed.
Stylianides yesterday told reporters that due to Ban’s absence from New York, Cyprus’ permanent representative at the UN met with the director of Ban’s office Susana Malcorra on Thursday, who gave “appropriate assurances” to concerns regarding Downer’s suspected anti-social, pro-political dinner bias.
Meanwhile, Eroglu was quoted by Turkish Cypriot media accusing the Greek Cypriot leadership of leaking to the media a 77-page document of convergences reached in peace talks between 2008 and 2012, compiled by the UN Good Offices.
Eroglu claimed Downer had given two different versions of the convergence document to both sides on April 30, so that should the document be leaked, he would know which side had leaked it.

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