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Cyprus Talks

Neophytou admits Ensois vote ‘untimely’ but should not be used as pretext to ditch the talks

Disy leader Averof Neophytou on Sunday conceded that the Enosis vote in the House over a week ago, from which his party abstained rather than oppose, might have been untimely given the status of the Cyprus negotiations but said the over reaction by the Turkish Cypriot side could give the impression that others were trying to get out of the talks.

At a memorial event, Neophytou said the vote, which gave the green light for schools to commemorate a 1950 referendum in which Greek Cypriots voted overwhelmingly for Enosis, or union with Greece, was a mere informative reference to an historical event.

“I want to be very clear that using a mere informative reference to an historical fact as an excuse… even though we recognise that it was untimely… or to create an impasse in the negotiations, either to be used as an excuse to justify the outdated system of 1960 guarantees is not just an overreaction, but gives the impression that others are trying to find a way to get out of the negotiations,” he said.

This, he added, was regardless of whether “we believe that it is not for the parliament to determine what historical references should apply to schools.”.

“Our job is to keep alive our history…and already our party has filed a law proposal to transfer this responsibility to the ministry of education,” he added.

Neophytou said historical memory should not be a barrier to the Cyprus problem. A viable solution could only be based on mutual respect and not brinkmanship, he said.

President Nicos Anastasiades said on Saturday that despite parliament’s decision being in his opinion a bad idea, the overreaction in the north was unjustified.

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”.

Akinci had also said he wanted Anastasiades, who he said admitted the vote, pushed by far-right Elam, was wrong behind closed doors, to say so in public. The furore caused the leaders meeting last Thursday to end abruptly with each side saying the other walked out first.

Reports on Saturday said the Turkish Cypriot side had welcomed Disy’s amendment and that it could pave the way for the negotiations to resume. The leaders are scheduled to meet next Thursday but that Akinci was not convinced enough to announce he would be attending just yet.

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.

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