It became clear yesterday that the postponement of a visit by UN special envoy Alexander Downer earlier in the week was a snub to President Nicos Anastasiades over ‘insulting’ comments the latter made in an interview last week.
Although the official line is that Downer put off his planned meetings with the two leaders on Monday, ostensibly for personal reasons, the Cyprus Mail has learned that the UN envoy was angry over comments made by Anastasiades to Antenna TV station.
The president said in the televised interview that Downer had lost the confidence of the majority of the political parties and of society, which raised doubts as to whether he had anything to contribute to the peace process. He also implied that Downer lacked objectivity.
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis was the first to pick up on the snub to Anastasiades yesterday. Under the headline ‘Downer is angry’, the paper said the UN envoy had deliberately postponed his meetings with the leaders in response to the president’s comments.
Sources close to the talks yesterday confirmed this. “He [Downer] did not want to see Anastasiades after he insulted him,” said a source. On top of this, Downer waited until Anastasiades left yesterday on a four-day visit to London before arriving on the island today, and he will leave on Friday before Anastasiades returns that evening.
Today Downer is due to meet the chief negotiators Andreas Mavroyiannis and Osman Ertug. UNFICYP spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux told the Cyprus News Agency that Downer was due to arrive around noon today and would have separate meetings with the two men in the afternoon.
Bonnardeaux said there were no immediate plans for meetings between Downer and the two leaders.
Havadis also reported that Downer was frustrated that agreement could not be reached on the joint declaration that was to help kick-start stalled Cyprus negotiations.
“If an agreement is not reached during Downer’s visit on Thursday, which is reportedly expected to be a short one, the UN Secretary General’s adviser will inform the Security Council of the failure of his efforts and the reasons for this failure,” the paper reported.
The last draft text of the elusive joint declaration was sent by the Greek Cypriot side via the UN to the Turkish Cypriot side which rejected it on December 27, without making a counter-proposal.
In a recent letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Anastasiades suggested a shorter joint declaration, including references to specific UN Security Council resolutions. In the letter he also insisted that the UN finally realise its role is implementation, not interpretation or misinterpretation, of UN resolutions.
The sources close to the talks told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that this was another frustrating aspect for the UN, which does not see Downer as an agent of the Security Council but as an agent of the Good Offices of the Secretary General, implying that if there was a Cyprus deal, many of the UN resolutions over the years could become moot. “What the UN is looking for is a compromise deal,” the sources said.