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Downer sees determination from both communities plus Greece and Turkey

UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer sees determination from both sides

By Stefanos Evripidou

UN SPECIAL Adviser Alexander Downer yesterday met Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos during a period marked by “expectations and determination” for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Speaking after the meeting in Athens, Downer said he sees determination from both communities in Cyprus as well as from Greece and Turkey and the UN Secretary-General to reach a solution.

The UN official said the shape of the talks will be determined next week, noting that what matters is not only the substance, but also the procedure.

Downer was due to arrive in Cyprus last night having scheduled separate meetings with President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu today, while tomorrow he will meet with the respective leaders’ negotiators, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Osman Ertug.

The two negotiators met on Wednesday and again yesterday to work on the text of a joint declaration which they hope to issue when Anastasiades and Eroglu finally meet to officially launch the new round of peace talks.

The leaders’ meeting is expected to take place this month, Ertug told Turkish Cypriot media.

The Greek Cypriot negotiating team has repeatedly argued that the joint declaration should set out in no uncertain terms the procedure to be followed in the talks, their basis and what is their final objective.

Contradicting Downer’s view that there is expectation on all sides for a solution, Turkey’s EU Minister Egemen Bagis was quoted yesterday saying Anastasiades was no different to any other Greek Cypriot leader that came before him.

Bagis rejected the notion of opening Varosha in exchange for the opening of accession negotiation chapters.

“Which country in negotiations gives up territory in exchange for opening a chapter? Use your brain. Turkey will not give up territory even to be a candidate, never mind open a chapter.”

Despite expectations to the contrary, Anastasiades is following the same line of blocking negotiations as his predecessors, said the Turkish minister.

“Certainly the (presidential) chair has some virus and whoever sits there catches it.”

Meanwhile, cracks appeared yesterday in the consensus and unity sought by Anastasiades in the handling of the Cyprus problem.

Opposition AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou expressed his grave concern over the president’s lingo during his speech at the UN General Assembly last month, particularly his reference to an “evolving transformation” of the Cyprus Republic to a federal state.

AKEL’s central committee convened yesterday to discuss the latest developments in the Cyprus problem, as well as the unfolding CyTA pension fund scandal which has implicated a number of AKEL officials.

After the meeting, the central committee released a statement questioning the president’s use of “evolving transformation”, arguing that this gives the impression of acceptance of Turkish positions for an evolving federation, which starts off with a loose confederation and later moves to a federation.

In response, DISY leader Averof Neophtou bemoaned the fact that parties in Cyprus spend a lifetime trapping themselves into a corner with “footnotes, exclamations and words”.

Anastasiades made it perfectly clear that the aim is to reunify the island based on international law, UN resolutions and EU principles, he said.

“And the UN resolutions refer to the transformation of the Cyprus Republic,” he added.

EDEK leader and House President Yiannakis Omirou also argued yesterday that no joint decision was taken by the National Council agreeing on Mavroyiannis and Ertug visiting Ankara and Athens respectively.

He warned that this was a precursor to a four-party conference.

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