Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and head of the ruling party in the south Disy, had dinner last Tuesday in the north. It emerged on Friday that they had met to discuss continuing efforts to restart the Cyprus negotiations which hit the buffers last month.
Head of Disy, Averof Neophytou confirmed a report by Greek Cypriot daily ‘Simerini’, that the dinner had been arranged by Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss Phidias Pilides and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Fikri Toros, both of whom were present at the dinner.
Reportedly other leading members of Disy had been kept in the dark about the meeting.
Neophytou said they had discussed business issues concerning both communities.
The atmosphere as “very good, if not excellent”, said Neophytou, and he had explained to Akinci that, as Disy leader, he had had no idea of the legislative amendment introducing an annual commemoration of the 1950 plebiscite for Enosis (or union with Greece) in state schools.
Akinci’s withdrew from the talks when he heard of the vote and demanded that the decision be rescinded.
Neophytou also said that he reaffirmed to Akinci that there has been no sudden shift in policy on the negotiations by Disy and the Greek Cypriot side. The efforts for a bizonal, bicommunal federation have not been abandoned in favour of union with Greece.
A legislative proposal, tabled by Disy, removing decision-making power on school commemorations from parliament and handing it to the education ministry, will be discussed at the House education committee on Wednesday, he said. In this way the government can revoke parliament’s decision, indirectly.
News of the informal dinner unleashed a torrent of criticism by opposition parties, demanding to know whether it had been sanctioned by Anastasiades and what was discussed there.
South Cyprus Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides confirmed on Friday, that Anastasiades had been aware of the dinner.