Downer's Greentree Comments Condemned by Parliament
The House of Representatives has unanimously passed a resolution condemning UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer's comments at recent talks in Greentree Estate in New York as 'prejudiced against the Greek Cypriots, disgraceful towards UN Secretary-general Ban ki-Moon, and dangerous'.
A further motion demanding his removal was blocked by communist party AKEL and conservative party DISY.
"Although the state conducts itself very well towards international organisations, this should not be exploited," said DISY spokesman Haris Georgiades in comments to state radio.
In earlier comments on the issue, Downer said it is not appropriate for him to get involved in politics or political debate after the House of Representatives decided to conduct a debate on his comments about the 'Greek Cypriots' (instead of the Republic of Cyprus) taking over the EU rotating presidency.
"I can see that they are particularly picking up on some comments it a press conference at Greentree. I made it clear to anybody who is interested that obviously the United Nations fully recognizes the Republic of Cyprus," he said.
His comments were made in the context of the talks taking place at Greentree Estate in New York on January 23rd, he said.
"There shouldn’t be any confusion about the United Natons position including my own position that we fully recognize the Republic of Cyprus, not just that, but as the incoming President of the EU. So there is no question of that," he said.
Downer has denied that he is not objective about the negotiations, saying that: "the task here is to try and find a way of reuniting a divided Cyprus and there is a formula for doing that which the Security Council has laid down and we have come from different parts of the world, me from the other side of the world, to try to help the Cypriots achieve that outcome."
Amid the always tense and emotionally-fraught direct talks between the Greek-and-Turkish Cypriots over the last three years, Downer has been heavily criticised by hardliners for overstepping his mandate and being biased towards the Greek Cypriots.
Critics point to his partnership in the political strategy consulting company 'Bespoke Approach', saying it is an inherent conflict of interest that a lobbyist holds a UN position that requires impartiality. Downer's regular open letters supporting Turkey's EU membership are another sign that he is not impartial, critics say. Turkey's EU membership talks are almost frozen because Ankara refuses to recognise the Republic of Cyprus as the island's official government. EU candidate countries are required to recognise all EU member states as part of their accession talks.
In past comments, Downer denied that 'Bespoke Approach' has business in Turkey.
In other developments, UN Secretary-general Ban ki-Moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky said that the Secretary-General had full confidence in Alexander Downer.
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