President Mustafa Akinci held a telephone conversation on Monday with the UNSG Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, asking him to persuade President Nicos Anastasiades not to put his signature to the decision adopted with majority by the House of Representatives regarding the commemoration in the south’s public schools of the 1950 plebiscite, during which the vast majority of the Greek Cypriots had voted “yes” to the unification of the island with Greece (enosis).
According to Akinci’s office, the Turkish Cypriot president told Eide that this commemoration would undermine efforts to reunite the island under a federal umbrella. He also argued that it is unacceptable to describe enosis, which also caused a lot of pain to the Greek Cypriot youth and Cyprus, as “sacred”.
President Akinci also called Elizabeth Spehar, UNSG’s Special Representative in Cyprus, to his office and conveyed to her his views on the issue.
Speaking after their meeting, Akinci said that they would wait to see what steps President Anastasiades would take before the community leaders’ meeting on Thursday. Regarding Thursday’s meeting, Akinci noted: “I will go to that meeting, but the only issue at this meeting will be this [the vote by the House of Representatives on enosis]. Nothing else will be discussed”.
Akinci underlined the anger of the Turkish Cypriot side about the vote to commemorate ‘Enosis Day’ and said that if the decision is not reversed, the Cyprus negotiations will become meaningless.
President Akinci said that President Anastasiades should decide whether or not he “will seriously exert efforts for a solution with us at least in March and April” and “think about the elections later and evaluate the possibilities for elections which a federal solution will bring” or “he will be busy with the elections in his own community”.
Akinci described the decision taken by the South Cyprus House of Representatives as “a decision which brings the dream of enosis onto the agenda” and added that he explained to Spehar the seriousness of the matter. He also pointed out that the fact that a plebiscite held in 1950 with an idea, which has been causing concerns for the Turkish Cypriots for years, came onto the agenda in 2017 is an “extremely serious development”.
He said that the fact that the majority of the parties were dragged behind a fascist and racist party such as ELAM was a serious cause for concern. Another aspect of the gravity of the issue, he noted, is the fact that the ruling DISY party had approved the proposal at the parliamentary committee stage and indirectly gave its approval at the plenary session by abstaining from voting.
Arguing that a new culture of peace is needed to be able to achieve a Cyprus settlement, Akinci said that injecting the dream of enosis into the youth during the Cyprus talks, and a mentality which sanctifies that plebiscite is a great blow to the ongoing negotiating process, taking into consideration that this could be done with the aid of President Anastasiades’ DISY party.
Akinci said that after the results of the vote, he had made a call for its annulment, but nothing happened in spite of the fact that two days have passed since that call. Akinci described the declaration of the TRNC assembly on the issue as timely and added that he conveyed to Spehar the Turkish Cypriot side’s serious reaction, disappointment and condemnation regarding this decision.
Akinci also said that the UN could not ignore this fact and added that he expects the UN to take the initiative on this matter. He said that he asked Spehar to convey the Turkish Cypriot side’s view to the UN Secretary-General.
Arguing that the steps which President Anastasiades will take are important, Akinci noted that this is not a small incident, adding that if President Anastasiades wants a federal solution, he should not approve these actions which will keep the ideal of the unification with Greece alive, just like he [Akinci] is the first to react against those referring to the annexation of the TRNC with Turkey.
Akinci went on to say that just as he tries to prepare the Turkish Cypriot people for the solution of the difficult issues in the Cyprus negotiations, President Anastasiades should also prepare his people for the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots, their effective participation in decision making, and the rotating presidency. If President Anastasiades ratified the south Cyprus parliament’s vote, the talks would become meaningless and there could be no positive outcome, he said.
President Akinci said that he will act by taking one step at a time in the light of developments. He anticipated that the Tuesday meeting between the two chief negotiators would be postponed.