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Centre parties align to oppose a solution

The DIKO-EDEK meeting on Wednesday

By Elias Hazou

THE SO-CALLED centre parties of DIKO and EDEK, alarmed by the election of Mustafa Akinci and the imminent resumption of the talks, have telegraphed that they are gearing to fight, tooth and nail, a possible deal on Cyprus.

Their respective leaders met on Wednesday, agreeing to strengthen ties across the board, particularly on the Cyprus problem. It was the first formal meeting between Marinos Sizopoulos, since his election as new leader of EDEK last month, and DIKO’s Nicholas Papadopoulos.

“Our two parties have in the past defended the legitimacy and status of the state… we are looking forward to working with them so that every effort is made to protect the Republic of Cyprus,” Papadopoulos later told reporters.

Sizopoulos, who represents the hard-line wing of the party, was among the loudest and fiercest critics of the 2004 UN peace plan, which Greek Cypriots eventually rejected in a referendum that same year.

The get-together with Papadopoulos – also a hardliner – is significant, coming one day after EDEK set in motion a process to “redefine” its stance on the Cyprus problem.

The talking points of this new updated stance – which reportedly may involve a radical shift to outright rejection of the bi-communal, bi-zonal federation – are expected to crystallise when EDEK’s Central Committee convenes on Sunday.

The Central Committee will be briefed by the Greek Cypriot side’s negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis as well as international relations experts. The line adopted will then be put to the party base for approval in July.

“For us, it is very important that our vocabulary as well as our actions must match… the form and content of the solution we seek,” Sizopoulos said.

The current agreed model is rife was contradictions, he added, in that it does not lead to a federation but rather to a loose partnership, a confederation of two equitable constituent states, one Greek Cypriot, the other Turkish Cypriot.

Another clue for DIKO’s hard turn was the news mid-week that hardliner Dr Marios Matsakis would be returning to the party fold with the express intention of fighting a settlement. Matsakis, who had been expelled from to the party in 2008, told the Cyprus Mail he would “join my voice with those who oppose the new Annan plan.”

Ironically, the announcement of Matsakis’ return came a few days after a number of leading DIKO cadres were taking a softer line on the Cyprus issue, suggesting the election of the moderate Akinci opened a window of opportunity for a solution.

Former leader Marios Garoyian and two of his supporters in the party have spoken publicly about the opportunity for a settlement created by Akinci’s election.

Papadopoulos disagreed with this line arguing that Turkey would stick to its intransigent positions regardless of who represented the Turkish Cypriots at negotiations. He pointedly refused to congratulate Akinci on his victory, tweeting, after being criticised for his ungracious attitude: “Why exactly should I congratulate the occupation leader, has he returned our properties?”

Stalled reunification talks between the two communities are set to resume this month, and the United Nations is guardedly optimistic that the sides can achieve significant progress, which is perhaps the reason the anti-settlement camp has been making battle plans.

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