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Saturday, 15 May 2010


MP Soteris Sampson has ruffled a few feathers in his DISY party by agreeing to attend a function organised by a far-right outfit. The deputy last night attended an event held in Nicosia by ELAM (National People’s Front) and dedicated to his father, the late Nicos Sampson, the de facto ‘eight-day’ president of Cyprus that overthrew Archbishop Makarios in 1974. Sampson was well known as a Greek nationalist and member of EOKA, which sought Enosis (Union) of the island of Cyprus with Greece. DISY immediately disassociated itself from yesterday’s event, expressing its disapproval of Sampson’s decision to attend. The party was also frustrated by the fact Sampson had ‘omitted’ to inform them of his plans, which they reportedly only found out about via a notification posted on Facebook. In a statement, the party said it could not forbid members or deputies from attending functions. “At the same time, however, the personal choices of party members are not binding on the party nor they do express the Democratic Rally,” the statement said. DISY said moreover it not only disagreed with the far-right group, “but we are in total opposition to everything it stands for.” Last night’s event at the ELAM headquarters, situated next to the Commerce Ministry, was titled “The life and works of the invulnerable Nicos Sampson.”

DISY spokesman Harris Georgiades said the party had made its views clear to Sampson, but saw no need for further action. It was not a case of insubordination, he added. “Under the party charter, members are given a great deal of leeway and freedom to express their opinions…but within certain bounds. They must of course exercise self-restraint.” Despite the caution, Sampson nevertheless decided to go ahead and attend the event. But judging by a somewhat incongruous statement Sampson issued later in the day, the deputy probably got the message. Sampson said he was attending because the event was dedicated to his father, but that did not mean he shared ELAM’s views. “As a matter of order, I have never, and shall never, refuse an invitation by anyone in order to speak about the actions and struggle of my late father and EOKA fighter Nicos Sampson. “My presence at this type of function must not, and cannot, be interpreted as a political act, nor does it amount to a coincidence of my struggles or those of my father with the ideas espoused by the organizers of the event,” Sampson said. “This is how my attendance of today’s event should be viewed, and any attempt to interpret it otherwise can only have malicious motives.” Last December 2009 ELAM organised a demonstration “against illegal immigration” in the centre of Nicosia, under the slogan “Every foreign worker equals an unemployed Greek.” Heavy police forces were mobilised to keep ELAM apart from a counter-demonstration by an Anti-fascist Initiative.

When making public showings, ELAM members typically don black T-shirts, a throwback to the Black Shirts, a paramilitary movement of the Fascist Party in Italy during World War II and the interwar years. A variant of the T-shirt is emblazoned with the words: “Commies aren’t cool”. In addition to a website, the group also operates a brick-and-mortar bookstore selling scarves, shirts, key rings and other paraphernalia.
Cyprus Mail