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Anastasiades takes the gloves off

Happier times: President Nicos Anastasiades with UNSG Ban Ki-moon in New York in September

By Jean Christou

RELATIONS between the Greek Cypriot side and the UN took a nosedive yesterday as President Nicos Anastasiades swapped his recent veiled criticisms for an all-out dig at the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser Alexander Downer.

Anastasiades was commenting after a clear message emanated from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the early hours expressing his concern that a new round of Cyprus talks slated to begin last month had not yet materialised, and that a proposed joint statement clearing the way, had not yet been formulated.

Ban’s message came after a meeting in New York with Downer on Friday night. In a note issued after the meeting, the Secretary-General pointed to the “limited window of opportunity” to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

“The Secretary-General expressed concern that a continuing deadlock over a joint communiqué has hampered a return to talks,” the note said. Ban said he hoped the impasse would be overcome in the coming week when Downer returns to the island from November 4-8.

Outstanding issues should be resolved so that the date for the first leaders` meeting could be set and full-fledged negotiations could resume “without further delay”, Ban warned.

Ban also expressed his full confidence in Downer, a pointed reference to the piling up of criticisms against the special envoy from the Greek Cypriot side in recent weeks.

Although Anastasiades has until now refrained from openly having a go at Downer, yesterday he didn’t hesitate.

“We do not live in Australia, we live in Cyprus,” the President said, referring to Downer’s country of origin.

“It should be understood that trust towards some people is given or taken away if they prove they are not worthy of our trust through specific actions. This should be seriously borne in mind. Let no one live under the delusion they will gain the laurels of success if they think they can lead us to talks for the sake of talks through blackmail.”

The relations between the UN and the Greek Cypriot side took a turn for the worse earlier in the week when reports surfaced that Downer had emailed European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and suggested that deeper EU involvement in the talks might not be helpful.

Such a move – although twice refuted by the UN – would have gone contrary to what Anastasiades wanted.  Despite the UN denials, the President’s subsequent silence on the issue only served to fuel the growing speculation that all was not well.

On Thursday night, addressing an event to mark UN Day, Anastasiades engaged in more veiled criticism,  saying the inability of the international community to oblige Turkey to respect the rules and principles of international law and the UN Charter, contributed to the continuation of the gross violation of the rights and laws of Cyprus and its people as a whole.

He continued with this theme in yesterday’s comments but more overtly, saying: “Let those who are under obligation to implement resolutions to consider that they need to make them [the resolutions] a priority.”

At the same time Anastasiades reiterated “most categorically” his wish and determination to secure a Cyprus solution as soon possible.

But he added: “I want to make one thing clear once and for all. We will not accept blackmail or fixed timetables from wherever they may come just because they will supposedly satisfy the expectations from some quarters. We will not relinquish basic principles irrespective of who says it and how they say it.”

“We are two communities cohabiting this country, this tiny paradise turned to hell as a result of mistakes – from wherever they may have originated. What matters – if we are to meet the goal – is for some people to look at the essence rather than just looking at when negotiations will restart,” he said.

The political parties wasted no time in jumping on the anti-UN bandwagon yesterday.

Opposition AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou rejected the ‘four days’ given by Ban for the formulation of joint statement.

Government coalition partner DIKO chief Marios Garoyian referred to the “evil machinations of Alexander Downer” who has “lost every trace of objectivity impartiality and reliability”.

He also rejected any notion of a timetable as did EDEK leader Yiannakis Omirou who said he was surprised as the UN should know better than to impose timetables.

Anastasiades said he would call a meeting of the National Council in the coming week.

 

 

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