Are Reunification Talks Over? Akinci Walks Out Over Enosis Referendum

There is no doubt that ethnic nationalism played a big role in both communities, and both communities must now show maturity and balance no matter the provocations.


The Cyprus reunification talks may be over after Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci walked out of a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades on February 16th, reports the Cyprus News Agency.

The Turkish side took high offense at the recent House of Representatives decision to hold an annual Enosis Referendum day in schools.

“I won’t allow anyone to doubt our sincerity in reaching an acceptable solution,” said Anastasiades via Twitter.

Going back in history

Enosis means union with Greece and was a historical backlash against the British Empire which colonised Cyprus until 1960. During the referendum 77 years ago, a vast majority of Greek Cypriots voted to unite with Greece. When their decision was ignored by the British colonialists, it triggered the war of independence which ended in 1960 with the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus.

The Turkish-Cypriot separatist ‘parliament’ condemned the motion.

The Enosis Day in schools resolution was introduced by the fascist party ELAM and passed unopposed. The Turkish-Cypriots – whose leadership recently decided to follow the timezone in Turkey – are vehemently against it. The reunification negotiators cancelled a scheduled meeting, while Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said it was unacceptable. President Nicos Anastasiades branded Akinci a hypocrite, saying that the Turkish Cypriots celebrate the Turkish invasion of Cyprus by parading in the streets.

Political divisions

The political paradigms of Enosis and Taksim (the Turkish-Cypriot equivalent of Enosis meaning union with Turkey) are the deepest political divisions between the island’s largest communities. They resulted in inter-communal tensions, eventually giving Turkey the excuse it needed to invade in 1974. In a world that seems determined to go back in time, it’s not surprising that the populist rhetoric of old is making a comeback. Britain faces its Brexit, the US faces an isolationist, protectionist, intolerant future, and the EU faces various populist-verging-on-fascist movements. Turkish President Erdogan recently raised tensions with Greece by bemoaning Turkey’s modern borders as established by the Lausanne Treaty. Greek Defense Minister Kotzias responded vigorously against Erdogan’s revisionist sentiments.

The will for peace

It appears that only the UN can bring the leaders back to the table now.

Never has it been more important for the leaders to keep talking about peace and reunification. It’s incredibly important for the country to move forward in time, not backwards. Fascism and ethnic extremism leads to intolerance, war and repression. Anyone who lived through the Cold War and remembers the terrible fear of nuclear attack should speak up against fascism and extremism in all its forms.

There is no doubt that ethnic nationalism played a big role in both communities, and both communities must now show maturity and balance no matter the provocations. It’s a critical challenge that must be met democratically. Instead of focusing on our disagreements, we must focus on what we agree upon – human rights, the right to peace, and the right to life.

Fascism and nihilism must remain in the past and their malignant roots buried too deep to poison the future.


The war of independence against the British Empire was fought for a reason. Cyprus is an independent country, not a colony or even a member of either of its neighbors. It is an EU member state with its own internationally-recognised government and parliamentary system. Along with independence comes responsibilities to rule fairly and support the rights of all citizens. Not go back in time to a period of instability and war, but to move forward towards peace.