By Evie Andreou
As the two leaders condemned Monday’s attacks on Turkish Cypriots in their cars, after their meeting on Wednesday, police announced that arrest warrants had been issued against four students believed to have been involved in the attacks during a student protest against the anniversary of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in the north (UDI).
Deputy police spokeswoman Nikoletta Tyrimou told the Cyprus Mail that the arrest warrants were issued against four students but they had not been executed yet.
The incidents had occurred Monday morning when students attacked three cars with Turkish Cypriot plates on three different occasions, which led to the injury of two Turkish Cypriots. The three cars were also damaged. Reports said members of far right group ELAM were involved in the incidents, but ELAM has denied any involvement.
President Nicos Anastasiades announced on Wednesday following his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci that the government would compensate owners of the vehicles.
The two leaders in a joint statement condemned “in the strongest terms the shameful incidents …during which Turkish Cypriots were targeted,” the statement said.
“The leaders stand together against racism and hatred, whatever the source. They jointly affirm that such deplorable acts will be thoroughly investigated and will not go unpunished,” it added.
It also said that Akinci expressed his satisfaction with Anastasiades’ statements that “any damage incurred during these incidents will be remedied”.
“The two leaders will not allow such unacceptable incidents to jeopardise the ongoing negotiations in any way, in particular at the very time they are trying in earnest to find a solution to the Cyprus problem,” it said.
Following the attacks, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said that numerous people have been questioned in connection to the case, and footage from security cameras in the area were being examined in a bid to identify the perpetrators. Due to the seriousness of the situation, the investigation has been taken over by the central criminal investigation department and not area police stations.
“Our effort is to give a clear message to all these people who display such behaviour that similar actions will not be tolerated in the future,” he said.
On his return to the presidential palace, Anastasiades said his meeting with Akinci had been constructive “and I hope it will continue this way”.
Asked whether the property issue was the focus of the meeting, he said: “yes, but other relevant issues were also discussed.”
In response to a question as to why Akinci did not attend the reception hosted on Tuesday night by the German Embassy, Anastasiades said that “he (Akinci) has issued a relevant announcement.”
“I do not want to comment on Mr Akinci’s positions. I know that I attended as President of the Republic of Cyprus and I was addressed accordingly as an (EU) member state [head] ought to be, and as states in general customarily do… beyond that, I do not think that I should comment on any possible problems others face.”
On Tuesday night Akinci refused to attend the reception in honour of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier because his request that the two sides be represented at the event on an equal footing was not met satisfactorily, his spokesman Baris Burcu said.
The reception was hosted by the German ambassador to Cyprus at the Chateau Status restaurant in the Nicosia buffer zone, and both Akinci and Anastasiades were invited. In a written statement, Burcu said that, despite a fruitful meeting with Steinmeier earlier in the day, Akinci did not consider it proper to attend the reception, much as he would have liked to.