President Nicos Anastasiades says a recent House vote on Enosis Day is about a historical event and not a policy change, dismissing calls from Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to condemn the vote.
Following a National Council meeting on Monday, Anastasiades issued a press release in response to Akinci’s comments on social media who called for the decision to be undone.
Both men’s comments come days after the RoC parliament approved a bill amendment sponsored by far-right ELAM, which called for secondary school pupils to spend a few minutes learning about the anniversary of the 1950 Enosis Referendum.
“The way a segment of the Turkish Cypriot community has reacted to a decision, which included a simple reference to a historical event, should not be seen as a change in policy and I won’t allow anyone to doubt the sincere efforts of the Greek Cypriot community in an effort to seek a mutually agreed solution, as it is clearly laid out at the negotiating table,” wrote Anastasiades.
Earlier, reactions from the north also came from the Turkish Cypriot assembly, which released a statement saying that the decision went against the 11 February 2014 joint declaration and the ongoing negotiations process.
But political leaders in the south spoke of what they called “intentional distortion” in the north regarding the Friday parliament vote.
Earlier, Akinci said the decision to include Enosis Day in school holidays is a “serious blow” to peace efforts.
He also said the scheduled for Tuesday meeting in Nicosia between the two chief negotiators has been cancelled.
“The decision of the Greek Cypriot parliament on celebrating the union referendum of 1950 is a serious blow to peace efforts towards solving the Cyprus problem,” Akinci wrote on Twitter.
The Turkish Cypriot leader called upon President Nicos Anastasiades, along with left party Akel and ruling party Disy, to mount an effort to undo the decision in the parliament.
But the President did not heed Akinci’s call.
Anastasiades, meanwhile, went on to say in his written statement that celebrations in the north were also provoking Greek Cypriots.
“If the Turkish Cypriot community is showing such sensitivity on a simple reference to a historical event, imagine how much more provocative are the celebrations for the anniversary of the Turkish invasion that lead to occupation and put in force an unacceptable order of things.”
Anastasiades also said that he has proven repeatedly that the Greek Cypriot community has been sincere and well intentioned during the negotiations, as they seek a win-win solution.
“I am convinced that if we all want to achieve the same goal, we must work with resolve and move away from any pretence and particularly any unacceptable claims and conditions that do not serve the interests of the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots,” the president said.
The House vote would introduce a School Day in observance of a 1950 referendum, when Greek Cypriots voted in droves in favour of union between Cyprus and motherland Greece, something which was met with strong disapproval by Turkish Cypriots.
Registers had been laid outside churches and coffee shops in the form of an open-book petition, where Greek Cypriots throughout the island could go and put their signature. It is estimated that close to 98% took part in the plebiscite.