Downer Quits Cyprus Unification Post

You can add the name of United Nations special envoy Alexander Downer from Australia to the list of diplomats who’ve failed to make any headway in the hopes of reunifying Cyprus, an island divided since Turkey unlawfully invaded in 1974, and where it still keeps a standing army.

Downer is to step down as UN special adviser on Cyprus, local media reported, just as he was on the island in yet another futile attempt to get the two battling sides to even agree on the terms of negotiations.

Downer, who has held the post since 2008, will be appointed as head of Australia’s diplomatic delegation in a key capital, Cyprus’s Politis newspaper reported without providing more information.

Downer’s meeting with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot representatives on Jan. 16, just as all his previous efforts, went nowhere in yet another bout of frustration. They two sides failed to agree on a joint declaration as efforts continue to resume reunification talks. The meeting was seen as the last opportunity before Downer briefs the UN Security Council next week.

Speaking after his meeting with the UN official, Turkish Cypriot negotiator Osman Ertug said the only proposal on the table for a joint declaration was the one submitted by the Turkish Cypriot side on Dec. 14, disregarding anything that Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said, the Cyprus Mail reported.

According to reports, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu passed on the draft text to Downer during his brief visit to the occupied north.

Four days later, the Greek Cypriots sent a counter-proposal with some small changes to the text which the Turkish Cypriots rejected on Dec. 28, saying they would accept only their proposals and not consider anything from the Cypriots, effectively continuing the stalemate that had led Anastasiades to say the talks were dead in the water.

Ertug said his country’s proposal was backed by his country and that the Cypriots should accept it without reservation or question or that the Turks weren’t interested in talking any more.