Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Downer letter farce is depressingly predictable

Alexander Downer

By Loucas Charalambous

A DAY RARELY goes by without another display of the vileness and ridiculousness of our political establishment.
The comical story about the letter UN Special Advisor Alexander Downer supposedly sent to the European Commission was not just a gaffe but a logical extension of these people’s general behaviour.
And the greatest significance is that it would have been a surprise had they behaved differently. The reaction we witnessed was, logically speaking, what the average citizen would have expected. From these politicians you can only expect silliness; for them prudence and seriousness are alien forms of behaviour.
It is useful to look at how the story unfolded after its publication in the 28 October edition of Phileleftheros, the paper that exemplifies the level of political maturity in Cyprus. It said: “Storm of reaction over Downer intervention at Commission. According to information, Downer sent a letter to the president of the Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, maintaining that a more active involvement by the EU might not help the procedure.”
Asked for his views that same day, President Nicos Anastasiades said, “no comment.” Speaker of the House Yiannakis Omirou was more forthcoming. If the Australian had interfered, then we were dealing with a stepping up of his hostile behaviour and would have to raise the Downer issue formally, as his presence not only did not help but rather encouraged Turkish intransigence, said Omirou.
DISY’s parliamentary spokesman Nicos Tornaritis called on Downer to act like an independent official, noting that if he had interfered his position would be untenable. Right from the start, Downer had ignored the terms of his position, said DIKO MEP Antigoni Papadopoulou, calling on the government to take a decision on how to handle the matter.
The deputy leader of EVROKO Michalis Giorgallas felt that with his behaviour, Downer was threatening to become a problem for the Cyprus problem. On behalf of the Greens Mr Masouras stressed that Downer had acted provocatively and called on the National Council to report him.
However, the most vicious attack on Downer was by Giorgos Lillikas who revealed that the UN official was “trapping the Greek Cypriot side” and that he “is dangerous for our national interests”. He also warned that if Anastasiades did not get rid of him “he would be responsible for Downer’s behaviour.”
Meanwhile, Anastasiades repeated his “no comment” response at a second public engagement.
On the next day, October 29, the European Commission denied that it had received a letter from Downer, while the UN, in an official announcement, spoke of “incorrect allegations” adding that it would “welcome the participation of the EU in the Cyprus peace talks”.
The only conclusion any sensible person can reach, after witnessing this political villainy, is that with these apprentice political wizards running the show, catastrophe is inevitable. Any other fate is impossible.
Of course we did not expect responsible or rational behaviour from people like Omirou, Lillikas, Antigoni or Perdikis’ spokesmen, but we did from the president. He appears to have been the source of this farce, having admitted that he had started the rumour, which he based on “some papers” that Barroso had during their meeting in Brussels.
Anastasiades, now that he had become head of state, cannot behave less responsibly than he did when he was a party leader. He cannot be touring the Sunday memorial circuit and political fiestas, engaging in demagoguery about “liberation” and “resistance to pressure” and repeating all the other rhetorical nonsense we have been hearing for 40 years.
He is committing a grave error if he thinks he is fooling everyone at the same time – Garoyian and Vassiliou, Omirou and Papapetrou, the ‘yes’-voters and the hard-line rejectionists, the UN and the EU as well as the Americans and the Russians. If he carries on like this he will end up as a second, and worse, Christofias.

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