All hell broke loose this week in Cypriot parliament after opposition blocked state funds earmarked for an EOKA museum dedicated to Grivas, a highly divisive figure in the island’s history.
Parliament approved on Thursday a second supplementary budget for 2022, adding close to €172 million of appropriations ranging from defense and coronavirus measures to unforeseen expenses due to the war in Ukraine.
But opposition members led by left party AKEL took issue with some €43,000 earmarked for a museum after it emerged at the last moment that language in the bill alluded to a memorial dedicated to Georgios “Digenis” Grivas, a Cypriot general in the Greek Army and leader of EOKA, a Greek Cypriot nationalist paramilitary organization.
Funds for an “EOKA Museum” had been rejected in December, according to AKEL MP Yiorgos Loukaides, who told state radio Friday morning that during Thursday’s session it emerged that the funds reappeared in the supplementary budget under different language.
During the debate Loukaides criticized colleagues who attempted to use “trickery” to reintroduce the funds in disguise, saying Grivas was the “destroyer of Cyprus” and the money had been rejected by the People.
'The executive branch has also been inconsistent here because they altered language in an article that had already been rejected by the majority and there was no parliamentary oversight'
This prompted a reaction from ruling party DISY MP Nicos Tornaritis, who accused AKEL of spreading Goebbels' Propaganda, with Loukaides saying he was shocked by the audacity of the accusation and his opponent further pointing out House rules that prevented an amendment being submitted during an open process.
Center party DIKO leader Nicholas Papadopoulos weighed in, seconding an oral modification despite the procedure being inconsistent with the procedures.
“The executive branch has also been inconsistent here because they altered language in an article that had already been rejected by the majority and there was no parliamentary oversight,” Papadopoulos explained.
Loukaides said his party did not submit a proper appropriations bill because nobody got wind of the article until the last moment.
But Tornaritis rejected allegations of deception on the part of the government, saying “it is always the duty of all representatives to exercise due diligence before voting on any bill.”
DIKO MP Zacharias Koulias, the Father of the House who was presiding over the session, said he supported EOKA but refuted Grivas’ actions after the 1960 independence “that led to the destruction of Cyprus.”
Nationalist party ELAM president Christos Christou said “we totally respect the epicness of EOKA 55-59 that was led by Georgios Digenis Grivas,” adding “this body decided to declare Grivas a worthy son of the homeland."
AKEL’s Loucaides said the funds for the museum will be on hold so that the government can be called in to explain its action to the House that “offends parliamentary institutions and more importantly the historic awareness of the Cypriot people.”
The left party MP also criticized what he called a fixation on Grivas that was being spread among the youth, telling state radio on Friday that young people were being taught to hate Turkish Cypriots and people with left political leanings.
Tornaritis replied saying AKEL was having its blinders on when it came to viewing history.
AKEL’s verbal amendment concerning the Grivas museum funds was approved with 29 votes in favor and 18 against.
But the supplementary budget passed on technical considerations after DIKO MP Chrysis Pantelides warned his colleagues to avoid an impending constitutional issue.
The session was presided by Koulias due to the absence of House Speaker Annita Demetriou, covering for President Nicos Anastasiades who was schedule to be abroad.