The audit of documents relating to the production of Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone which included a controversial performance in the north has begun smoothly, Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides said on Monday.
Michaelides said that the probe had been launched and that there was full cooperation between the audit service and the state theatre company (Thoc) which had co-produced the productions in both the Republic and northern Cyprus.
Thoc also announced that it was fully cooperating with the audit service and that it respected state regulations and institutions.
The placatory announcements followed a series of increasingly vitriolic attacks between Thoc and the auditor-general last week which culminated on Friday with audit service officials being turned away from Thoc headquarters when they turned up to collect the accounts covering the production of Antigone.
Tensions were only reduced after government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides stepped in and convinced Thoc’s board, which had maintained that political expediencies were behind the probe, to hand over the documents in question.
The probe was launched following a request by Diko chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos into the procedures preceding the staging of the ancient Greek tragedy at the ancient amphitheatre at Salamis in the north, which was attended by some 4,000 people.
Meanwhile, the bi-communal technical committee on culture announced on Monday that it would continue its work despite opposition because it sought to contribute to a “climate of mutual understanding, respect and trust among all Cypriots with the aim to reunify Cyprus”.
“The organisation of the play Antigone at the ancient theatre of Salamina, a co-production of the National Theatre of Greece, the National Theatre of Northern Greece and Thoc, was placed under the auspices of our committee because we believe that events like these contribute substantially to the reunification of Cyprus,” the announcement said.
Papadopoulos and other hardline politicians had severely criticised the committee and Thoc two weeks ago for staging Antigone in Salamis arguing that such productions constituted a form of recognition of the breakaway regime in the north.
The committee’s first event, which took place at the newly renovated Othello Tower in Famagusta in July last year, was attended by President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
“Despite the positive atmosphere that prevailed before, during and after the play, we cannot stay indifferent to the debate concerning the organisation of the play production,” it said.
“The work of the committee … is subject to distortion, unsubstantiated accusations and degrading references,” the committee said. “We will continue our work despite any adversity.”