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Cyprus President's Downer Letter "Has Not Yet Come to the Attention" of Ban

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 20 -- The UN's envoy on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, also works for a "consultancy," Bespoke Approach. Recently his public statements about a May 29 dinner involving Cyprus' new president Nicos Anastasiades landed him, in the language of a Cypriot headline, "in the dog house."

  The Cyprus Mail reported that "Anastasiades yesterday accused UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer and his team of undermining the president’s credibility and the prospects of resuming peace talks in a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Anastasiades threatened to pull out of the UN-planned dinner between himself and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on May 29, unless the UN chief could provide personal assurances that it would be a 'social event' only. The two-page letter, revealed by state broadcaster CyBC last night, is dated May 17, 2013."

  Since the letter was reported by the state broadcaster, it seemed sure the UN was aware of it and would respond. At the UN in New York on May 20, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey, video here from Minute 11:37:

Inner City Press: it is said that the President, new President of Cyprus has written to the Secretary-General complaining about Alexander Downer having either mis-described or mis-set up a dinner with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Dervis Eroglu. Are you aware of this letter being received? It is reported in the Cyprus press and it says that they are… they may both pull out of the dinner and out of talks. So, it seems serious.

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, Matthew, as Martin has said on a number of occasions here, we… the Secretary-General gets many letters throughout the day and we are not privy often at the first moment that these letters are received. We will check to see and we will get back to you.

  And Del Buey's office did get back to Inner City Press, just before 5 pm, with this:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Mon, May 20, 2013 at 4:52 PM
Subject: Regarding your question on the letter from President Anastasiades to the Secretary-General
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question today on the letter from President Anastasiades (Republic of Cyprus) to the Secretary-General, the Department of Political Affairs has provided the following information:

The letter from President Anastasiades to the Secretary-General has not yet come to the attention of the Secretary-General.

  Does this mean that a May17 letter "revealed" on Cyprus' state broadcaster had still not reached New York, three days later? Or that it had arrived, but that since Ban Ki-moon is traveling (and will be for another week), the Cyprus president's letter has not been brought to the attention of the Secretary General?

  More substantively, given the threat, what is the UN's response, a "mediator"? What is Downer's response? Watch this site.

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