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Averof hits back at opposition critics (Updated)

DISY's Averof Neophytou


Disy leader Averof Neophytou attacked the rejectionist parties on Monday for clinging to what he said was the ‘myth’ that the Greek Cypriot-run state is the bicommunal state envisaged by the 1960 constitution.

“We need to realise that in order to live in a reunified country, we will live, physically and politically, with Turkish Cypriots. We can’t believe that Greek Cypriots will run a reunified Cyprus by themselves,” he told state broadcaster CyBC’s morning news show on Monda.

He was responding to a barrage of criticism he received on Sunday for a speech he gave to Disy’s supreme council in which he censured the opposition for attempting to give others “lessons in patriotism”.

In his speech on Saturday, Neophytou unleashed an all-out attack against the smaller opposition parties – main opposition Akel backs the talks – for their negative and alarmist stance.

Referencing a public appeal by President Nicos Anastasiades for unity last week, Neophytou said in his speech that “unity does not require agreement”.

“But national unity does require national responsibility,” he told his supreme council.

Such responsibility was absent in the recent Geneva conference, he added.

“When we sat at the same table with Turkey for the first time since 1963, some were looking for a plane to escape responsibility,” he said.

“Others opted to not attend [an informal cocktail reception]. Others yet concerned themselves with the future of the ‘centre’ parties, and many with leaking information.”

Some have got to the point of attempting to undermine the relationship between Athens and Nicosia, Neophytou said, turning a claim fired against him last week on its head.

“They are trying to lecture us on allegiance [to the Greek nation] and patriotism,” he protested.

“And they pretend to forget the time when they burned the Greek flag and mocked all things Greek. Or that, only a few months ago, they protested outside the Greek embassy in Nicosia.”

He was referring to a protest staged in September by Diko, Edek, the Solidarity movement and extreme right-wing Elam, outside the Greek embassy, over a joint production – by the Cypriot and Greek state theatres – of Sophocles’ Antigone at the ancient Salamis amphitheatre in the north.

To those who now remember allegiance, Neophytou added, “I have only this to say. Lessons in allegiance to others! Not to us!”

Diko, Edek and the Greens were swift to reply, saying that the parties backing Anastasiades’ handling of the Cyprus problem would do better to aim their criticism to Turkey.

“[Neophytou’s] language employed war cries, not political arguments,” Diko commented in a statement.

“It is obvious that Mr Neophytou blames not [Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa] Akinci and Turkey. Thus, instead of replying to the repeated provocative statements by Turkish officials and Turkish Cypriot politicians, he opted to attack the Greek Cypriot parties that disagree with Anastasiades’ policies.”

Edek contrasted Anastasiades’ appeal for unity with Neophytou’s accusations of leaks.

“Let us remind Mr Neophytou that we don’t forget the pink papers of 2004, and the fact that he does not blame Turkey and its unreasonable demands, but the parties condemning the efforts of some to maintain Turkey’s presence on the island after a solution.”

The Greens’ leader Giorgos Perdikis deemed Neophytou’s assault “provocative” and claimed the reservations and objections voiced by opposition are the “best support President Anastasiades could have”.

“In the logic of any negotiation, it has the element of a strong representation of the right of the side being done the injustice,” he said.

“It is the obligation not only of parties opposing President Anastasiades, but also those backing him, to express these demands.”

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