PERHAPS we have missed something in failing to understand President Anastasiades’ reasons for re-opening the issue of the commemoration of the enosis referendum in public schools. We thought that the matter had been closed a little over two weeks ago, after the legislature approved the Disy bill that would have given the decision-making powers for such matters to the education ministry.
This would have allowed the Elam amendment, passed in February with the votes of the rejectionist parties, to be revoked and thus make Mustafa Akinci return to negotiating table – the revocation of the amendment was a condition for his return to the talks. The talks resumed after its approval but Anastasiades’ decision to have the Disy bill referred to the supreme court over its constitutionality could lead to another interruption.
While it has become apparent, after two meetings between the leaders, that the talks will lead nowhere, Anastasiades’ move smacks of bad faith. Was this his way of paying back Akinci, for the ‘humiliation’ he had inflicted on the Greek Cypriots, by insisting the enosis amendment was revoked? Perhaps, he is hoping that Akinci will quit the talks, as the Disy law would not come into effect for some time, thereby absolving him of any blame for the inevitable collapse of the process.
Whatever Anastasiades’ motives, this is a blatant show of bad faith and an advertisement for his deviousness. He got Akinci back to the negotiating table but refused to sign the law on the grounds it was unconstitutional. So, when he was urging Akinci to return to the negotiations, supposedly because he was keen on a settlement, it was just theatre. If he was so keen and committed to the peace process why is he now jeopardising it over what is essentially a law of next to no importance?
We are talking about a law that gives the decisions regarding in-class commemorations in schools to the education ministry. Nothing that the acting government spokesman said yesterday about the separation of powers to justify the president’s decision was convincing; and nor was his attempt to put the responsibility for the decision on the opinion given by the attorney-general. It was Anastasiades, who asked the attorney-general for an opinion that he did not have to ask for.
Akinci was unreasonable in quitting the talks over the Elam amendment and demanding its revocation to return to the talks, but we had thought the matter had been put behind us after the Disy law was approved. Now Anastasiades has put it back on the agenda to underline that he has given up on the peace process and reverted to playing the futile games that have always blighted the Cyprus talks.