President Nicos Anastasiades said on Saturday that the overreaction in the north to the Greek Cypriot parliament’s decision to introduce an annual commemoration of the 1950 referendum on the island’s union with Greece (Enosis) in public secondary schools was unjustified However, he conceded that in his opinion, the move was a bad idea,
The fears and concerns expressed by the Turkish Cypriots were unwarranted, he said, “simply because there was an agreement between us that the solution we seek is a bi–zonal bi–communal federation”.
Anastasiades said that secession or union with any other state, was out of the question and was one of the articles of the constitution would remain unchanged.
Responding to President Mustafa Akinci’s called for the south’s parliament to revoke the amendment on Enosis before he would return to the negotiating table, the president said that “the House of Representatives is an independent legislative body of the Republic and does not accept orders or diktats from anyone”.
“I never raised an issue with Mr Akinci to impose himself on the illegal administration which either makes decisions contrary to the common line or has different views,” Anastasiades said.
“No party claims or maintains that the solution we are seeking is that of a union [with Greece]. On the contrary, even those against the bi–zonal bi–communal settlement, what they highlight is the safeguarding of the Republic of Cyprus,” he said.
“Therefore, overreactions are not justified over a mere reference, which yes, I believe was wrong, not only as regards timing but also as regards its goal, taking into consideration that April 1, which was the armed struggle of the Greek Cypriots to shake off the English yoke and achieve union, is celebrated with many festivities and yet no one speaks during these anniversaries in favour of union [Enosis],” said Anastasiades.
Commenting on reports in the Turkish Cypriot press on his rudeness toward Akinci during their meeting last Thursday, Anastasiades said that his respect for the Turkish Cypriot leader has been proven.
“I have the bad habit of smoking, I admit it. Because Mr Akinci had suffered some time ago from a pulmonary oedema and doctors advised him that it is good to avoid being exposed to smoking areas, he informed me, and I, with the utmost respect, whenever I want or feel the need of the bad habit to smoke, I go out of the hall and smoke. All the rest, I find is gossip that is not suited to political leaders,” he said.
The leaders’ meeting came to an abrupt halt on Thursday when Akinci left with his delegation. The Turkish Cypriot side had said that Akinci left because Anastasiades first stormed out of the room angry over something that was said leaving the other side with no choice but to depart.
Akinci repeatedly said since Thursday’s meeting, that Anastasiades had conceded “behind closed doors” that the commemoration decision was wrong, and “should also say so to his community”.
President Akinci told TRT news channel on Saturday that he was expecting two things from the Greek Cypriot side; the one, for Anastasiades to publicly denounce the Enosis commemoration decision of the parliament, and the other was to take steps to annul this decision.
The two community leaders are scheduled to meet again next Thursday. However, the negotiators have not set up a meeting for the coming week, yet.