Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media release

13 July 2008

Appointment of UN Special Envoy for Cyprus & Appointment of Australian Special Representative for Cyprus

The Australian Government congratulates Alexander Downer on his appointment as the United Nations Special Envoy for Cyprus. 

Mr Downer, Australia’s Foreign Minister from 1996-2007, has extensive experience and a distinguished record in international affairs. 

His appointment comes at an important time in renewed efforts for reconciliation in Cyprus.

On 1 July, Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders met to discuss progress on the work of the joint technical and working groups, as well as issues of single sovereignty and citizenship, which they agreed in principle.

I welcome their meeting and the fact that they will continue their dialogue on 25 July.

Australia is an ongoing supporter of United Nations efforts to find a solution to the long running Cyprus issue and has contributed civilian police to the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) since 1964. 

Australia is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes, to the support of the peacekeeping and conflict resolution work of the United Nations and to the observance of international law.

Consistent with Australia’s commitment to support UN efforts in Cyprus, I have appointed a Special Representative for Cyprus.  This will be Mr David A Ritchie, Australian Ambassador to France.  Mr Ritchie will continue the work of Jim Short, who served as Australian Special Envoy for Cyprus from 2000-2007.

A particular dimension of Mr Short’s work was consultation with the large communities of Cypriot, Greek and Turkish origin in Australia.

This will now be handled in Australia by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through the First Assistant Secretary, Europe Division. Early contact will be made with the communities in Australia by the Department.

I hope that the current momentum to achieve a comprehensive settlement leading to a just and equitable solution to the Cyprus dispute can be maintained and brought to a successful conclusion.  I wish Mr Downer and Ambassador Ritchie well in their endeavours.

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