Cyprus Mail

Senior Disy official quits after ‘enosis’ vote

Disy leader Averof Neophytou is facing opposition from within the party

THE fallout from the vote of Disy’s contentious proposal to transfer the power to set school commemorations to the Education ministry, which was voted into law on Friday, has already claimed one high-ranking member of the ruling party, while the parties opposing it have called on President Nicos Anastasiades to refer the law to the Supreme Court on grounds of unconstitutionality.

Shortly after the vote on the proposal, which was designed to address the reaction of Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci over a parliament decision to instate a brief annual in-class commemoration of the 1950 ‘enosis’ (or union with Greece) referendum, member of Disy’s political bureau Soteris Drakos announced his resignation from the party.

“Unfortunately, this decision by parliament, which was orchestrated and supported by Disy without prior consultation with the political bureau, is in line with the unacceptable and dishonourable demand by Mustafa Akinci to impose on the vast majority of Cypriots to rewrite our history,” he said in a statement.

“The party’s stance in parliament – that is, voting for a law that was imposed as an ultimatum by the Turkish side – does not allow me to remain in Disy.”

The proposal was voted into law by 30 MPs, with 20 opposed. Six MPs were absent. In favour were 16 MPs from the ruling party – Andreas Kyprianou and Eleni Stavrou broke ranks and opposed – and all 14 Akel MPs in attendance.

Drakos also cited Disy’s joining forces with Akel, its traditional nemesis, on the issue of the Cyprus problem.

“On such matters, [Disy founder and longtime leader] Glafcos Clerides never compromised,” he said.

“When accused by Akel that he is promoting nationalism by declaring that Cyprus is Greek, he replied that ‘a land inhabited by Greeks in the majority is, of course, Greek’. Today, Akel holds the same position. We saw Disy’s reply in parliament, where it appeared to agree, which is why they voted jointly.”

Meanwhile, one time Akel leader and former president Demetris Christofias also weighed in on the issue, noting that it amounted to no more than Disy’s attempt to remedy the tragic mistake it made when it abstained in the Enosis Day commemoration vote, which had been a proposal of far-right party Elam.

“The trap set by the fascist Elam, into which all the so-called centre parties, as well as Disy, fell, has given both Turkey and Mr Akinci an excuse to exhibit completely unacceptable behaviour and interrupt the talks,” Christofias said.

“It is not enough to cite Mr Akinci’s and Turkey’s behaviour to excuse the inexcusable. We must always bear in mind what has happened in Cyprus over the last 60 years or so, and the behaviour of the reactionary parts of each community, which have always catalysed the effort to partition the Republic of Cyprus.”

The aggression of “fascist Elam supporters” outside parliament highlight the need both for Akel and every democratic, progressive Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot to “come together, in order to face the miasma of fascism, which is rearing its ugly head”, the former president added.

Opposition parties Diko and Edek, which feverishly tried to avert the revocation of the Enosis Day decision, issued similar statements in which they demanded that Anastasiades refer the law to the Supreme Court on ground of unconstitutionality.

Asked to weigh in on the issue earlier this week, attorney-general Costas Clerides said his role was legal advisor to the executive branch of government, not the legislative.

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