Parliament’s decision to introduce an annual commemoration in public schools of the 1950 enosis referendum is unacceptable and will only foment the mistrust his community felt towards Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said on Saturday.
“It is unacceptable that during a time when we are trying to set a date for a second conference (on Cyprus), enosis was still being kept on the agenda with a decision taken by the Greek Cypriot parliament,” he said.
Akinci said the decision sent a very dangerous message to Greek Cypriot youth and would increase the mistrust Turkish Cypriots already felt.
The Turkish Cypriot leader urged President Nicos Anastasiades to publicly oppose the decision and called on ruling Disy to work with Akel to undo it.
Parliament on Friday approved a proposal submitted by far-right party Elam to introduce an annual event in public schools to mark the January 1950 referendum on enosis, in which 96 per cent of Greek Cypriots voted in favour of union with Greece.
Just 19 votes from the smaller parties – excluding ruling Disy, which abstained, and main opposition Akel, which opposed – were enough for the proposal to be approved.
The desire for ‘enosis’, or union with Greece, is considered one of the main reasons for the breakdown of the independent bicommunal Republic of Cyprus established in 1960.
Disy’s decision to abstain rather than reject the motion outright has been heavily criticised on social media, while main opposition Akel has seized the chance to take the moral high ground.
“It is easy, we think, for everyone to contemplate the message sent by all other parties, except Akel, with yesterday’s decision … and how their action will be exploited at this especially critical phase of the Cyprus problem, by those in the Turkish Cypriot community who do not want a solution,” parliamentary spokesman Giorgos Loukaides said on Saturday.
He said Elam’s entrance in parliament and Friday’s decision to commemorate the referendum, which is already included in the school syllabus in any case, “reveals a lot”.
The far Right’s position had always been well known, he said, but of more concern were the rest of the parties which, with great ease, supported Elam’s effort to reinstate commemorations that “were terminated after the treacherous coup by (paramilitary group) Eoka B and the Turkish invasion”.
“It also reveals everyone’s priorities and whether these are defined with a view towards the coming elections or the next generations,” Loukaides said.