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Palace gets Ban on the phone

Before speaking to the UN chief, President Nicos Anastasiades met party leaders

By Peter Stevenson

PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades spoke to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon by phone yesterday to discuss the will-they won’t-they joint statement, which is aimed at kick-starting a new round of Cyprus talks.

During the 3pm call, which lasted 10 to 15 minutes, Anastasiades explained the Greek Cypriot side’s position on the joint declaration and reaffirmed its positive and constructive stance.

The president told the UNSG that he has submitted a counter-proposal on the matter of the joint declaration but reports suggested that no movement could be expected before the second half of January.

Earlier, Anastasiades briefed Greek Cypriot party leaders in the presence of negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis.

“The president’s consultation with the party leaders, in the presence of the negotiator’s legal support team, which began on Saturday, was completed today,” government spokesman Christos Stylianides said.

In response to the UN Secretary General’s recent comments that there had been significant progress regarding a joint statement, Stylianides said that the subject of ‘significant progress’ had been repeated on many occasions.

“We will wait for the final result. I have said in the past that when it comes to the Cyprus problem we can be very close but also very far from any developments,” he said.

It was not immediately known whether Anastasiades brought up the role of the UN’s Special Advisor Alexander Downer during the call.

Downer irked the government last weekend by meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the Turkish ‘embassy’ in the north. A complaint was filed with the UN.

Sources close to the negotiations did suggest the Ban phone call might have been a form of snub towards Dower. They questioned why the President wished to discuss the Cyprus problem with the UNSG when there was a special advisor already on the ground in Cyprus.

“The President does not intend to discuss any other matters other than those relating to negotiations between the two sides during his conversation with the UNSG,” Stylianides said when asked whether the Downer incident would come up.

He added that the Greek Cypriot side had always had a constructive attitude towards drafting a joint statement.

“We insist that if the other side show’s their willingness then we can be very close. It is a matter for them as we have shown our constructive attitude which is how we will continue,” he said.

Stylianides refused to comment on whether a counter-proposal had been handed over by the Turkish Cypriot side regarding the joint statement.

“I do not want to get into a discussion that could cause problems with the negotiations. Our attitude is constructive, we insist that negotiations need to begin as soon as possible on a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem which will depend on the decisions taken by everyone,” he concluded.

Anastasiades initially argued for a joint declaration to precede fully-fledged negotiations so as to clarify once and for all the positions of the Turkish Cypriots and Ankara on a future reunified state, particularly whether they agree to it having a single international personality, citizenship and sovereignty.

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