President Nicos Anastasiades said on Saturday that despite parliament’s decision to introduce an annual commemoration of the 1950 referendum on the island’s union with Greece (Enosis) in public secondary schools being in his opinion a bad idea, the overreaction in the north was unjustified.
The fears expressed by the Turkish Cypriot side, he said were unwarranted “simply because there was an agreement between us that the solution we seek is a bizonal bicommunal federation”.
Secession or union with any other state, he said, was out of the question and was one of the articles of the constitution would remain unchanged.
Commenting that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci called for a revisiting of the Enosis issue in parliament before he would return to the negotiating table, the president said that “the House of Representatives is an independent legislative body of the Republic and does not accept orders or diktats from anyone”.
“I never raised an issue with Mr Akinci to impose himself on the illegal administration which either makes decisions contrary to the common line or has different views,” Anastasiades said.
What I want to reiterate, he said, is that the best interest of Cyprus should prevail, which covers Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
“No party claims or maintains that the solution we are seeking is that of a union [with Greece]. On the contrary, even those against the bizonal bicommunal [solution], what they highlight is the safeguarding of the Republic of Cyprus,” Anastasiades said.
“Therefore, overreactions are not justified over a mere reference, which yes, I believe was wrong, not only as regards timing but also as regards its goal, taking into consideration that April 1, which was the armed struggle of the Greek Cypriots to shake off the English yoke and achieve union, is celebrated with many festivities and yet no one speaks during these anniversaries in favour of the union [Enosis],” he said.
Commenting on reports in the Turkish Cypriot press on his alleged bad behaviour toward Akinci during their meeting last Thursday, Anastasiades said that his respect for the Turkish Cypriot leader has been proven.
“I have the bad habit of smoking, I admit it. Because Mr Akinci had suffered some time ago from a pulmonary oedema and doctors advised him that it is good to avoid being exposed to smoking areas, he informed me, and I, with the utmost respect, whenever I want or feel the need of the bad habit to smoke, I go out of the hall and smoke. All the rest, I find is gossip that is not suited to political leaders,” he said.
The leaders’ meeting came to an abrupt halt on Thursday when Akinci left with his delegation. The Turkish Cypriot side had said that Akinci left because Anastasiades first stormed out of the room angry over something that was said leaving the other side with no choice but to depart.
Akinci repeatedly said since Thursday’s meeting, that Anastasiades had conceded “behind closed doors” that the commemoration decision was wrong, and “should also say so to his community”.
The Turkish Cypriot leader told TRT news channel on Saturday that he was expecting two things from the Greek Cypriot side; the one, for Anastasiades to publicly denounce the Enosis commemoration decision of the parliament, and the other was to take steps to annul this decision.
The north however, welcomed ruling Disy’s amendment – tabled on Friday – wresting control of in-school commemorations and transferring it to the education ministry.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris, quoted a top source in the north as saying that Disy’s move to resolve the enosis crisis was a “method that could solve the problem and pave the way for the negotiations to resume”.
The same source said “now there is a new step. We will keep an eye on the steps to follow”, adding that Akinci was not convinced enough to announce he will be attending next week’s leaders’ meeting.
The same source said that the Turkish Cypriot leader was frustrated due to the backing Espen Barth Eide gave to Anastasiades with regards to the crisis that broke out during Thursday’s meeting with reference to who walked out first.
Kibris also quoted a source from Disy as saying that the Disy initiative should be enough for Akinci to return to the table and resume negotiations.
The next meeting of the two leaders is scheduled for next Thursday. The negotiators however do not so far have a meeting set up for the coming week.