Embattled UN envoy Alexander Downer is not leaving his post as his contract has been renewed for another six months, an UNFICYP spokesman said yesterday.
Michel Bonnardeaux was responding to reports that the Australian diplomat is preparing to leave his position because he got appointed as his country’s new High Commissioner to the UK.
“Yes, I have seen the press reports, I have asked Mr Downer and he told me that his contract has just been renewed for another six months,” said Bonnardeaux.
Asked whether Downer was planning to meet with any of the leaders of the two communities before his scheduled departure this morning, the spokesperson said that “so far, there aren’t any planned meetings”.
Downer could only meet with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, anyway, since President Anastasiades is not due to return home from his official visit to London before tonight.
Not that he would relish such a meeting considering that Downer was said to be annoyed with Anastasiades after telling a Sunday paper in an interview that he had lost trust in the Australian envoy.
Downer had reportedly postponed his visit to the island by 48 hours because of the insulting words against him.
Citing personal reasons for the postponement, Downer arrived in Cyprus on Wednesday instead of Sunday evening and his scheduled meetings on Monday with both Anastasiades and Eroglu were cancelled at the last minute.
He met with the two appointed negotiators both on Wednesday and yesterday to discuss procedural issues only, according to informed sources.
Downer is flying to New York to brief the Security Council before they vote on the renewal of the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus.
The thorny issue that has provoked Anastasiades’ ire is the Turkish Cypriot side’s refusal to clarify the basis of negotiations disputing the sovereignty of a reunited Cyprus.
Plus Downer’s refusal to state that UN resolutions and high level agreements on Cyprus are crystal clear on the issue of sovereignty.
Yesterday, Anastasiades told members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords in London that if the Cyprus peace process is to stand any chance of success it must start with a basic common understanding of principles.
“There should be no space for ambiguity or creative thinking around the notion of sovereignty, consolidated both in international and constitutional law and in numerous Security Council Resolutions,” he said.