Disy leader Averof Neophytou reiterated on Tuesday that parliament’s approval of an amendment to mark the 1950 pro-Enosis plebiscite in schools was “untimely”.
Speaking at a news conference at the party’s headquarters in Nicosia, he said it was untimely because 67 years had elapsed since the plebiscite, the amendment concerned a brief reference to the issue in schools, and in any case, the struggle for Enosis was already celebrated as a national holiday and commemorated in annual church services.
At the same time, however, the Turkish Cypriots’ reaction was “unacceptable”, he said.
They were upset over a mere reference to a peaceful, historical fact, whereas each year, they showed no understanding for how each Greek Cypriot felt every July concerning “the events that take place in the occupied areas” to mark the 1974 invasion, he added.
It was also exaggerated for them to interpret the decision as a change in the Greek Cypriots’ longstanding national policy and strategy on the Cyprus problem of ending the current occupation via peaceful coexistence with the Turkish Cypriots in a federal Cyprus on the basis of UN resolutions and the National Council’s unanimous decisions.
He reiterated Disy’s firm support for efforts to agree, via dialogue, on a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
Regarding the specific issue, the party did not believe that it was parliament’s role to adopt positions concerning various education ministry circulars.
This should be the ministry’s exclusive task and was a matter that needed to be regulated as soon as possible, he said.
Meanwhile, AKEL spokesman Stefanos Stefanou stated that President Nicos Anastasiades should distance himself from parliament’s decision concerning the Enosis referendum, and take initiatives to overcome the difficulties that had been caused for the talks process.
According to Stefanou, while the decision was exploited by the Turkish Cypriot right and far right who oppose the solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, it had clearly created problems for the process that were “wholly expected”.
He added that the question was what should be done now, and the admission by the leader of the ruling party that the move was “untimely” did not suffice.
According to Stefanou, Disy’s abstention in the vote was in fact tantamount to “a vote in favour”. The ruling party was culpable because it “was converted into Elam’s tail and contributed to creating this situation.”
He added that Anastasiades’ position that he would not allow the exploitation of the decision to place blame the Greek Cypriot side “does not address the problem. The president at the very least must distance himself from the decision and take the initiative to overcome the difficulties for the continuation of the negotiating process, he said.
For his part, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides stated that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci was wrong to cancel Tuesday’s scheduled negotiators’ meeting in reaction to the decision.
Speaking to CyBC radio, Christodoulides said that greater dimensions should not be given to developments that do not affect the discussions at the negotiating table.
He noted that if Akinci had wanted, he could have communicated with Anastasiades and not made the statements he did which misinterpreted the decision.
Instead, Akinci chose to speak out publicly.
In the same way, the president could have stated that he would refuse to sit at the negotiating table so long as the Turkish side raised the issue of granting the four freedoms to Turkish citizens
Commenting on the Turkish Cypriot side’s assertion that the decision brought back the policy of Enosis, Christodoulides stressed that this was not the case, as the National Council rightly asserted categorically via its unanimous decision on Monday, which made it clear that the solution being sought had not changed.
UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide was due to meet both leaders separately on Wednesday. Anastasiades and Akinci are due to have their next scheduled meeting on Thursday.