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Uncertainty over community leaders’ meeting on Thursday

22 February 2017

North Cyprus News - Akinci - Spehar

UN Special Representative and United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) chief Elizabeth Spehar will know later on Wednesday if the meeting between President Nicos Anastasiades and President Mustafa Akinci will take place tomorrow after an abrupt ending to last Thursday’s meeting.

Spehar, met with Akinci on Tuesday saying after the meeting that it was “very helpful to clarify the situation” and had a meeting scheduled with Anastasiades on Wednesday morning.

She added that she will know whether the meeting will go ahead on Thursday after her meeting with Anastasiades.

Akinci, meanwhile, also met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday.

Government spokesperson Nicos Christodoulides told state radio on Wednesday morning that it appeared that Akinci was being “swayed away” from the talks by Turkey.

The previous meeting between the two leaders ended abruptly and with hopes of a Cyprus settlement hanging by a thread. The two sides have fallen out over a move by some MPs to vote through an education bill amendment to commemorate Enosis Day at schools, a proposal that had been supported by far right party ELAM.

The bill essentially calls for secondary school pupils to honour the anniversary of the 1950 Enosis (union of Cyprus with mainland Greece) Referendum which is already part of the history curriculum.

Anastasiades had described the House decision “wrong” and “ill-timed” and called on Akinci to return to the negotiating table. Akinci, in return, has demanded that the decision be revoked, something Anastasiades says he cannot intervene on due to the fact that parliament is an independent body.

Political observers in the north argue that the move by MPs to vote through the bill was “a sign that Greek Cypriots are not ready for a solution” while Greek Cypriot pundits argue that the amendment is insignificant and simply an excuse for Turkey to try and derail talks between Anastasiades and Akinci.

Other critics say that the introduction of the bill was made by Greek Cypriot opponents of the talks who were – themselves – looking for a way to sour the mood. The spotlight then fell on ruling party Disy which had abstained as opposed to opposing the bill amendment outright.

Akinci walked away on Thursday from a leaders’ meeting, shortly after it began.

A new blame game began over the exit, with one side arguing that Anastasiades stormed out of the room while others say it was Akinci who left the premises after Anastasiades had simply gone out for a cigarette.

President Anastasiades had previously described the House decision “wrong” and called on Akinci to return to the negotiating table. Akinci demands that the decision is revoked.

Cyprus Weekly

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