Australia remains a valued friend of Cyprus. Greek Australians must not confuse Australia’s policy on Cyprus with the indiscreet, provocative actions of former minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer.

Speaking at a public gathering in Melbourne the leader of the delegation, speaker of the House of Representatives the Republic of Cyprus, Yiannakis Omirou, said “Cyprus owes a great deal of gratitude to Australia for its continuous participation in the peacekeeping force and its undiminished support for a just, viable solution of the Cyprus issue in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations”.

Mr Omirou added that “Greeks and Greek-Cypriots must not confuse Australian policy on Cyprus with the provocative thoughts and deeds of Alexander Downer, the UN Secretary’s special advisor on Cyprus, because of his Australian origin”.

Recently the House of Representatives passed a motion of no confidence in Mr Downer, following his statement “the Greek-Cypriots, instead of the Republic of Cyprus, a full member of the European Union, will hold the six month rotating presidency of the European Council”.

Responding to questions from the floor Mr Omirou remarked that “following his many indiscretions Mr Downer is no longer regarded a credible representative of the secretary of the United Nations. Unfortunately Mr Downer has digressed from the charter of the United Nations hence our calls to the Secretary General to take the necessary steps for the re-establishment of the credibility of his representative in Cyprus,” he said.

Mr Omirou and his colleagues expressed the view, that the Cyprus issue has stagnated because of Turkey’s persistent stifling of the dialogue.

“Turkey impedes the constructive dialogue by refusing persistently to discuss the key aspects of the Cyprus problem,” he said. “So, we are not at all optimistic about a speedy outcome of the direct negations between the President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eorglou, unless Turkey shifts ground and agrees to discuss all aspects of the Cyprus issue”.

Mr Omirou said that the recent discovery of hydrocarbon reserves in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone is “a gift of God” that guarantees tremendous economic and political benefits to the island state and its people.

As for the Cypriot economy he said that the current debt crisis in Europe has serious adverse effects on the economy. However, the government has taken drastic measures to prevent the economy from slipping into recession.

From Melbourne the delegation travelled to the national capital for discussions with the Presidents of the Senate John Hogg and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Peter Slipper. Earlier, the delegation met with the members of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade and the Committee chairman, MP Michael Danby.

Speaking after the meetings, Mr Omirou said the Australian side showed great interest in recent developments in the Cyprus issue, Turkey’s threats against the Republic of Cyprus and the last meeting on Cyprus, at Greentree, NY.

The President of the Cyprus House noted that both Presiding Officers, as well as the House Foreign Affairs Committee were also interested in the recent discovery of hydrocarbon reserves, in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone and in its potential contribution to a Cyprus solution.

On Turkey’s EU accession prospects, Omirou said he explained to the Australian side that the Republic of Cyprus does not object, but insists on Ankara meeting concrete requirements, set by the EU.

Mr Omirou extended an invitation to both Presiding Officers to visit Cyprus, which was accepted. In the evening, Hogg and Slipper hosted an official dinner, in honour of the Cypriot delegation.