Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Thursday was briefed by the UN secretary general's special advisor on the Cyprus issue, Alexander Downer, on developments concerning the Cyprus problem. The briefing took place a few days ahead of the foreign minister’s visit to Nicosia and New York scheduled for next week that will focus on the promotion of the Cyprus issue, which, according to the UN official, goes through a “critical phase”.

Exiting the foreign minister’s office in Athens, Downer referred to the “dedication” displayed by the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots to continue the dialogue process at a more intensive pace, as it was established after Wednesday’s meeting between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu. He also referred to the “extremely constructive” role played by the Greek government.

The UN official also spoke about significant disagreements on certain aspects of the problem and also about disagreements that are being bridged, underlining that the good rapport between Christofias and Eroglu is contributing in a positive way to the entire process.

FM to visit UN, Cyprus next week

Greek foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas will meet in New York with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon next week, after a visit to Cyprus.

Droutsas is due to meet with the UN chief on Friday, February 18, for talks focusing on the Cyprus issue ahead of Ban's submission of his report to the UN Security Council later in the month.

The foreign minister will meet earlier Friday with Archbishop Demetrios of America.

Earlier in the week, Droutsas will arrive in Cyprus on Monday for a two-day visit to Cyprus, on the heels of a scheduled meeting on Thursday in Athens with the UN secretary general's special advisor on the Cyprus issue, Alexander Downer.

In Nicosia, Cyprus government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said the visit is in the context of the contacts and coordination between Athens and Nicosia, adding that developments in the Cyprus issue will be discussed, while views will be exchanged on the next steps.

Spokesman on FM's contacts in Nicosia, London, UN

Developments in the Cyprus issue -- having as a background the Geneva talks last month -- a slow dialogue process and the imminent report by the UNSG to be submitted in late February will be the main issues in a series of contacts Droutsas will have in Cyprus and New York, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said on Thursday, during a regular briefing of reporters.

“We want Greece to be able to have its positions expressed clearly in order to be as helpful as possible,” he stressed.

Droutsas will be in Nicosia on Feb. 14 for meetings with Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou. The next day will be in London for contacts with his British counterpart and David Miliband, the leader of the opposition. On Friday he will travel to New York, where he will meet with the UN secretary general, Archbishop Demetrios of America and representatives of the Greek-American community.

Referring to the meeting with the UN secretary general, Delavekouras stressed that the UN and the international community play a “decisive” role in the Cyprus issue and that the process should be assisted in an objective manner to ensure that the necessary steps will be made.

As regards the course of the process, the pace of which is not satisfactory, he said the responsibility lies with the Turkish Cypriot side, which “reverts to older positions”. The spokesman also called for “a clear commitment by Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on everything that has already been agreed upon”.

Finally, he called on the Turkish Cypriot side to “enter negotiations with willingness for progress”.