By George Psyllides
A reference by President Nicos Anastasiades’ to the negative role played by the motherlands in Cyprus has led to accusations from opposition parties that he equated Greece with Turkey’s invasion and occupation.
Despite him clearly referring to Turkey as bearing most of the responsibility, DIKO and Citizens’ Alliance called on Anastasiades to apologise and withdraw his weekend statement.
In a speech on Sunday, the president said one could not disregard the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots.
Anastasiades said it was everyone’s mistakes that led to contempt “but at the same time, unfortunately, to a limited extent initially, the motherlands played the worst role; one of them at least, while the other one continued.”
Anastasiades said he wanted to believe that after the 1974 catastrophe “we have detached ourselves and become independent and finally operate as a state. In the same way the umbilical cord with any other motherland must be severed.”
The president emphasised that Greek Cypriots respected their ethnic descent, as well as that of the Turkish Cypriots “but at least we will work as fellow citizens, as residents of this island that God blessed us to live in.”
He was referring to the Greek-backed coup to overthrow president Makarios on July 15, 1974. The coup was followed by Turkey invading Cyprus five days later and the continued occupation of 37 per cent of its territory after 41 years.
Anastasiades’ reference did not go down well with DIKO chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos who said he must apologise and withdraw the “unfortunate” statement.
He even likened it to a statement made by former president Demetris Christofias in 2010, which caused a storm of protests, including from ruling DISY, in opposition at the time.
Christofias had said that the two motherlands had invaded Cyprus.
DIKO published the statement issued by DISY at the time, which accused Christofias of equating Greece with the invader and occupier of Cyprus.
“DIKO calls on Nicos Anastasiades of today to listen to Nicos Anastasiades of 2010, apologise and withdraw his unfortunate statement,” Papadopoulos said.
The Citizens’ Alliance reaction was along the same lines. The Green party and EVROKO also criticised the statement.
The government said the statement did not equate the responsibility of the two guarantor powers in the Cyprus problem.
“Nor did they aim at acquitting Turkey of the heavy responsibility of the invasion, the continuing occupation and human rights violation,” deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said.
Papadopoulos said Anastasiades was referring to the coup perpetrated by the Athens junta.
“Any other interpretation … is misleading, malicious, and motivated by petty politics,” Papadopoulos said.
DISY leader Averof Neophytou echoed the government statement and went a step further.
“At the same time, it is a fact that as a Cypriot people, we have suffered national and economic cost from the behaviour, not of the Greek people, but that of Greek governments,” Neophytou said.
The aim, he said, was to reunify the country without foreign guarantees and unilateral intervention rights by third parties.