President Nicos Anastasiades will on Tuesday discuss with Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou the issue of the ‘Ataturk reference’ debacle, it was announced after discussion on the issue at the cabinet on Friday was postponed due to the latter’s absence abroad.
Sources within the education ministry earlier in the day, told the Cyprus News Agency that Prodromou, who represented the government at the farewell service for Mikis Theodorakis, was still in Athens and it was known in advance that he would not make it to the cabinet meeting on Friday morning. The same sources also said the minister, expected to return to Cyprus on Friday evening, had not scheduled a meeting with Anastasiades for the same day.
Anastasiades said on Thursday cabinet would seek explanations from Prodromou on the way his ministry handled the issue of a reference in an English textbook and instructions to teachers to tear the relevant page out before giving the books to students.
Following the resulting uproar, the ministry announced it would withdraw the book arguing the reference was “unacceptable and inappropriate”.
Anastasiades said the issue ought to have been handled in a different way.
Deputy government spokesperson Niovi Parissinou said Anastasiades would discuss the book issue with Prodromou on Tuesday.
The page in question – in a book for second year lyceum students – contains a reference to Ataturk, the first president of the newly formed Turkish Republic one century ago, in an exercise called ‘Turkey’s greatest hero’.
The education ministry said on Wednesday that it was out of the question to have in the books used for education in the Republic’s schools references that portray Kemal Ataturk as a model moral leader who “stood up for the people.”
“Because, as it is well known, Ataturk and the Young Turks are responsible for crimes against the peoples, such as the Genocide of the Armenians, the Pontus Greeks, the Assyrians… In fact, it is completely inappropriate for such a reference to be made in an English textbook,” the ministry said.
It also said it recently replaced other English textbooks with references to ‘northern Cyprus’ as if it were a second Cypriot state.