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Our View: Time for parliament to act responsibly

THE legislature will today vote on a Disy bill that would revoke the enosis referendum amendment, proposed by Elam and approved by the rejectionist parties last February. The amendment provoked a reaction bordering on the hysterical in the north and was used as an excuse by Mustafa Akinci to quit the talks. At the last meeting of the two leaders, held a few days after the amendment, President Anastasiades angrily stormed out of the meeting room and Akinci departed before the president’s eventual return.

Since then there were no meetings, Akinci setting the condition that the amendment had to be revoked before he returned to the negotiations. Anastasiades, meanwhile, on the one hand, labelled the approval of the amendment a mistake and, on the other, pointed out provocations to Greek Cypriots, such as the giant flag on Pentadaktylos, that he did not demand the removal of in order to attend talks. It was rather childish, with Anastasiades taking the high ground and urging Akinci to forget the amendment and return to the talks.

Today, the legislature will vote on the bill that would allow the resumption of the negotiations next week, but the rejectionist parties, although they claim they want the talks to resume, have been expressing their opposition with very emotive language, bordering on the hysterical. Leading the rejectionist outcry, Diko chief Nicholas Papadopoulos has been talking about “giving in to the blackmail of the Turkish Cypriot leader” and the “belittling and humiliation of Cypriot Hellenism,” among other things. Giorgos Lillikas of the Alliance was a bit more restrained, saying the legislature was “being called to negate and belittle itself in order to satisfy another humiliating demand of the Turkish side.”

The rejectionists are correct in claiming that Akel and Disy would be giving in to Akinci, by voting for the bill today, but what they failed to say is that they have their own agenda which would be served by the stance they advocate. They would be overjoyed if the talks never resumed, because they openly support maintaining the status quo – they want the derailing of the process and are happy to achieve this by posing as the uncompromising super-patriots supposedly defending the pride and dignity of Cypriot Hellenism. For them, the Cyprus problem exists exclusively for grandstanding and fiery – but meaningless – rhetoric.

Fortunately, this does not apply to all the party leaders. Disy chief Averof Neophytou, to his credit, from the minute the Elam amendment was approved, has made it his objective to overturn it, regardless of the nasty criticism and merciless attacks he was subjected to in the press and by the super-patriots over the bill. His initiative did not elicit even a word of public support from Anastasiades, who washed his hands of the situation, claiming it was the responsibility of the legislature, as if he was not bothered about the talks.

Only Akel and its leader Andros Kyprianou openly supported Neophytou and will do so again when the bill is put to the vote today. It is re-assuring that the leaders of the two biggest parties are capable of seeing what is important and acting with a sense of responsibility.

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