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Downer Says Cyprus "Slower Than Expected," Press Banned from Toilets

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 4 -- So what was accomplished at this week's meetings on Cyprus held at Greentree in New York's suburbs? It is unclear. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was out there, but when he returned to UN headquarters he merely read out a statement and took no questions.

  His envoy Alexander Downer briefed the Security Council and took questions on Friday. Inner City Press asked about criticism that there might come a point in which the UN's involvement in a process without any progress could further undermine the credibility of the UN and Ban Ki-moon. Video here, from Minute 7:45.

  Downer said there might be "a point when we have to concede there is deadlock... The Secretary General would have to report to the Security Council [there is] a deadline." He said things have been "slower that we had expected three years ago;" he blamed this in part on a change in the Turkish Cypriot leadership "getting into the saddle."

  Inner City Press asked if disputes between Turkey and Cyprus, about maritime borders, exploration and other matter have impacted his work. He said they've had "no impact inside the negotiations" but they have had impact "on public opinion."

(c) MRLee
Christofias, Ban, Eroglu, Downer, progress & Banning from toilets not shown

  Downer referred to the interest in the minutiae of the process by "the public," then amended that to "the press." But the treatment of the journalists who went out to Greentree to cover the meetings was, in the word of one, "outrageous."

  "We got there at 7:30," the journalist recounted, saying that there were "no toilets." After a time, journalists found two toilets but were told "they are old" and couldn't be used. There was a Greak Cypriot media room "ten minutes away but the Turks had to go into Manhattan. So for hours, they didn't go," the journalist said.

  The UN Department of Political Affairs blamed the treatment on the Greentree estate "not being media friendly." But to deny the use of toilets to journalists trying to cover a negotiation DPA itself has bragged about hit a new low, the journalist concluded. Even for the UN. Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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