Ruling Disy on Friday tabled an amendment wresting control of in-school commemorations and transferring it to the education ministry, according to MP Nicos Tornaritis.
The move is related to the furore raised by last week’s decision to introduce a commemoration of the 1950 ‘Enosis’ referendum, in which Greek Cypriots voted in favour of union with Greece.
The decision is threatening to derail reunification talks.
The proposal had been submitted by nationalist Elam and voted by Diko, Edek, the Citizens’ Alliance, Solidarity, and the Greens, but opposed only by main opposition Akel – ruling Disy abstained, thus allowing a majority to turn the proposal into law.
Following public outcry, and even more than a few mentions by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci regarding Disy’s stance in the vote, the party defended its decision by arguing that the vote had been “untimely” and that these decisions shouldn’t be made by the House anyway.
“From the first moment we had said that issues relating in-class messages and circulars are the jurisdiction of the Education ministry,” MP Nicos Tornaritis said.
“They are not for each deputy, or for the plenum, to decide.”
According to Disy’s proposal, decisions on such issues will be made by the Education ministry, following “consultation” with the House Education committee.
Tornaritis denied that the proposal cancels the commemorations already decided by parliament.
“It simply gives authority to the education ministry to decide what and how is being said in the classrooms,” he said.
“If the education ministry decides that specific issues need not be mentioned because they are mentioned elsewhere, then so be it.”
The ‘Enosis’ plebiscite is already mentioned in classrooms as part of the April 1st celebrations marking the start of Eoka’s 1955-1959 struggle.
The move prompted a reaction by Diko spokesman Athos Antoniades, who said Disy had “given in to Akinci’s blackmail before even one day had passed”.
He was referring to Akinci’s demand for the decision to be reversed as it constituted a provocation to the Turkish Cypriot side, who has always opposed the notion of Enosis.
“The proposal submitted by Disy, transferring control over anniversaries to be commemorated through circulars from parliament to the Education ministry is a precursor to the reversal of the parliament’s decision [on commemoration of the referendum],” he said.
“Unfortunately, the government and Disy insist on their defeatist attitude and the strategy of concessions. This strategy is what led the Cyprus problem to an impasse, and this strategy is what has to change.”