Following the Cyprus parliament’s approval last week to introduce an ‘Enosis Day’ as an annual event in the island’s public schools − marking the January 1950 referendum on the island in which 96 per cent of Greek Cypriots voted in favour of union with Greece − fears are growing the move will create another impasse in the latest re-unification talks.
“Cypriots in the diaspora are getting increasingly frustrated with those who will seemingly do anything to stop reunification of the island.
Earlier this week President Nicos Anastasiades condemned Turkish Cypriot reaction to the initiative, which included Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci saying that Greek Cypriot political parties had been swayed by the right-wing Elam party. Elam, which promotes an anti-federalist line, holds two seats in Cyprus’ 56-seat parliament and submitted the Enosis Day proposal. The 19 votes from smaller parties – excluding Anastasiades’ own ruling Disy party, which abstained, and the main opposition party AKEL, which opposed – were enough for the proposal to be approved.
Shortly after the vote, Turkish Cypriot ‘prime minister’ Huseyin Ozgurgun reportedly called the decision a “most severe blow” to the current talks, and that the move was “the clearest evidence of the Greek side’s desire to own the whole island”.
“There can be no other explanation for the parliament’s approval of a proposal made by three deputies who take every opportunity to display their animosity towards Turks, and a racist minority in that parliament,” he was quoted as saying by Turkish news agency Anadolou.
President Anastasiades has criticised the Turkish Cypriot side’s reaction to “a mere reference to an historical fact”, and made efforts to point out the move did not constitute a change of policy by the Republic of Cyprus.
“If the Turkish Cypriot community demonstrates such sensitivity to a simple reference to an historical fact, how provocative for the Greek Cypriot community are the celebrations for the anniversary of the Turkish invasion, that led to the occupation and imposed the unacceptable status quo?” he said.
Meanwhile, prominent Greek Cypriot community figures in Australia have added their voices to the debate. Veteran PASEKA president, Constantinos Procopiou, told Neos Kosmos:
“The Turkish Cypriot leader misunderstood the real issue. Parliament was discussing the education minister’s proposal for changes in education, including the history of Cyprus,” said Mr Procopiou.
“[Akinci] says it wasn’t in the interest of the people of Cyprus to discuss enosis at that crucial time of the negotiations. By the same token, one can ask him whether it is in the interest of the people of Cyprus to give the 80 million Turkish people the four freedoms of the EU, and if it is in the interest of the people not to discuss anything else unless this matter is agreed upon.
“One can also ask him if he had in mind the interest of the people of Cyprus when he said the Turkish army should stay in Cyprus for another 15 years, to make sure that the pipeline to carry gas to Europe would pass through Turkey.”
Meanwhile, reflecting a diversity of opinion in the Cypriot Australian community, Theo Theophanous, the former state Labor minister and columnist, said the Enosis Day action “runs counter to history, which has shown that enosis was a misplaced goal which ultimately led to the overthrow of Makarios and the division of the island”.
Mr Theophanous said the proposed adoption of such a commemoration “jeopardises a resolution of the Cyprus issue for no good reason. Cypriots in the diaspora are getting increasingly frustrated with those who will seemingly do anything to stop reunification of the island. If reunification fails the only enosis we will see is that of northern Cyprus with Turkey.”
Additional sources: Cyprus Mail