Cypriots are debating whether to allow an independence referendum and whether it should be held next year.
The Cypriot parliament on Tuesday decided to take the first step in its process to set up a referendum.
The parliament voted by a slim majority to hold the vote on Dec. 18, which would take place as early as next year if the government of Prime Minister Nicos Anastasiades fails to get the necessary support from the country’s 300-seat parliament and parliament.
The vote, though, is seen as a crucial step toward setting the stage for the referendum, which will be held on a Greek-dominated referendum agenda.
The vote is expected to be a huge boost to Anastasis’s bid to win re-election next year and a major step toward achieving a “Yes” vote.
Ahead of the vote, the parliament’s speaker, the Greek Cypriotic Orthodox Church’s Bishop Michael Azzopardi, told lawmakers that he will not allow the vote to take place if the Greek government doesn’t make good on its promises to make the referendum happen.
“The Cyriots want to make sure that the referendum happens on a genuine basis,” Bishop Azzopoloupi said.
The Greek Cyriot government says it has enough votes to hold a referendum, but has said it would not accept a result that is different from the vote it expects to win.
The Cyriotic Orthodox Bishop said that it would be wrong to expect the Greek side to fulfill its commitments to ensure that the vote is legitimate.
“If we do not accept this result, we have no choice but to have a referendum,” he said.
The bishop said that the Greek authorities should hold a separate referendum on the independence of Cyprus.
But Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he wants to hold an independent referendum on Cyprus and has promised to push ahead with it.
He also has called for an emergency referendum, if the Cyriotes government fails to make good.
But Cyprus is a member of the European Union and has been a member for more than a decade.
The European Union has urged the Cypriotes to hold their own referendum, arguing that if it fails to happen, it could lose its access to the single market and EU membership.
The referendum would be the first time the Greek parliament has voted on an independence issue.
It has also been the first to be held without an EU mandate.
The country is not a member country of the EU and its borders with Greece, Cyprus and Italy remain open to both.
The referendum would take into account the wishes of the people, and would not affect the ability of the Greek or Turkish CypriOTs to negotiate a future with the EU.
“We are all in this together, and we will not compromise,” the Cyrian Orthodox Bishop of Anastasias said.
“If we cannot reach an agreement with the Greek and Turkish Cyrios, we will hold another referendum.”
Anastasiad said that he would push ahead despite the opposition from Greece and the EU, and said that if the vote goes ahead he would not be deterred from trying to renegotiate the countrys relations with its main allies.
“We will keep trying until we have an agreement,” he told a news conference.
The first round of the Cyprus independence referendum is scheduled for March 20.
The next round is scheduled to take up March 31.
The Cyprus government said in a statement that the decision to hold that vote had been taken on the basis of the “credible information” that the EU is not interested in a referendum on its own.
“This is not an act of intimidation,” the statement said.
A Greek Cyrenaically Orthodox priest, Father George Karpatopoulou, told The Associated Press that the Cyrenasian church is “not against” holding a referendum but that it was “totally opposed” to holding a vote on its territory.
He said that holding a poll on Cyprus is contrary to Cypriota history.
“It is a very significant step forward for Cyrenia, which is a Catholic country,” Father Karpatsopoulous said.