Interview of Andros Kyprianou, General Secretary of the C.C. AKEL – “Haravgi” Daily newspaper
– Is another Europe feasible or is this position of yours maintaining a myth that nourishes the hopes of the peoples of the continent for a better tomorrow, a prospect that is distant at this moment, but which will at some point be achieved?
– The real myth is the belief that has now been completely refuted, that “the invisible hand of the market” can regulate everything. The real myth being propagated is the belief, also refuted, that “less state” policies can ensure progress and prosperity for the peoples of Europe. With these and many other myths the ruling forces of the European Union for many years tried to convince the peoples that their lives would get better. They deliberately wanted to disorientate and dampen the people with empty nice-sounding slogans with which they wrapped their myths with in order to impose policies against the people and their interests. Hasnt the myth about “kick-starting” and “rejuvenating” the economy through the implementation of Memorandum policies of President Anastasiades and the Eurogroup also been refuted too?
To believe that the peoples of Europe can and must resist and assert their dignity is not a myth. Besides, European history itself proves many gains were won through fierce political and class struggles.
– So, it is up to the people then to change Europe…
– We are talking about a perspective that will be fulfilled sometime. We are talking about our own future, which we in these elections can determine to some extent. We will achieve it if in the European Parliament we elect those forces that can struggle for all that the people are being deprived of today as a result of the Memoranda and anti-peoples policies: work, education, health and a welfare state. Let us elect a powerful AKEL in Cyprus in order to send a message of defending the reunification of our country, a message of resistance to all those threatening the future of our people, defending all that the ruling forces are trying to demolish.
Woe, if we fatalistically accept what is being promoted by the ruling circles of the EU as inevitable. If we do so, the future will be even worse. Our choice, therefore, is the constant struggle to achieve the best, to aspire to see our positions at some stage winning the majority of the people’s hearts and minds.
– What is the Left doing in the European -Parliament, a Left which has learnt to assert and struggle on a national level for the dignity of the working people and the peoples prosperity, in an arena where the forces and representatives of capital in the EU are dominant, take all the decisions and are imposing the interests of the mighty over the weak and small?
– Precisely, the forces asserting and fighting for the working people and the dignity of the peoples must be in the decision-making centres in order to influence their content; to put forth their own different position and try to convince about their correctness. They take up the seats of the European Parliament to highlight their own different positions and they are not there as applauders of the decisions of Brussels who merely approve everything without protest. It is up to each of us with our vote to change the balance of forces. Otherwise we just let others decide for us, in our name. The bitter experience of the Eurogroup of March 2013 proved to each of us here in Cyprus that Brussels is not so far away; it proved that whatever is decided there affects everyone and changes the lives of everyone in Cyprus. Furthermore, let me point out that the majority of the legislation submitted in the House of Representatives is Directives and regulations adopted by the European Union.
– A letter arrived to our newspaper just a few days ago about a mother from a large family, single parent, unemployed, sick, without a benefit, because she didn’t get her divorce through yet. She is in danger of losing her home because she’s unable to pay the monthly loan payment. We are talking about a woman totally abandoned, and of course she is not the only one in the Cyprus of the Memorandum and austerity measures. What would you say to her if she was here with you?
– She is certainly not the only case. Just recently we mourned the mother in Larnaca who died in front of her child. Then, statements of devastation and shock were issued about the incident. We are talking about the same forces that in the House of Representatives are cutting funds and stating that there must be an end to “excessive spending”, that the state “should not sustain lazy people and feed them with benefits”, and that “the demand for the protection of the primary family residence is populism”. These very same forces stated that they were shocked that there are people in Cyprus dying from hunger, abandoned by the state.
It is therefore a question of what policy one supports and defends. We face two choices: either we strengthen those who argue that everything must be dismantled and let whoever can survive, or we will strengthen those forces who believe that everyone without exception should have the right to work, education, health, dignity and that the welfare state must be continually strengthened to support those most in need. We know that in the tough economic times our country is going through, safeguarding all of these rights is difficult. What is important, however, is to pursue policies that will facilitate their implementation. We will try, therefore, to help and explain how the people must rally their forces with those who are fighting to promote these policies, namely AKEL -Left – New Forces.
– Why should this woman believe in any politician or any party and the promises that perhaps may be given to her?
– Indeed, she should not be persuaded by any words but by actions and deeds. The people are tired of listening to words and pledges. The people must judge each and every one of us by their long-standing positions and consistency. We know that as AKEL we have disappointed a section of the people with the developments of recent years. We acknowledge mistakes, weaknesses and omissions. We do not accept, however, what is being attributed to us. Let’s see how each and every one of us is acting today. AKEL tabled in Parliament specific proposals to protect the poor and the working people. AKEL tabled a draft Bill to reduce rents and to protect the primary family residence; a Bill suspending prosecution for debts to the state, for the restructuring and extension of loans, the settlement of financial obligations of SMEs and for the cancellation of the decree extending the opening hours of shops. The current government, the Democratic Party and others rejected these proposals. It is absolutely vital that the voice of AKEL is strong, both within and outside the House of Representatives, so that it can assert resolutely for these rights to be realized in practice.
– In a few hours the message of the Easter Resurrection will be heard, a message that is not confined just to the narrow religious boundaries…What message do you send to Cypriot society?
– First of all, permit me to want to wish everyone good health and happy holidays. The Resurrection is preceded by the sufferings. Unfortunately, our people have for forty years been suffering the torment of the occupation and now they have also imposed the Memorandum on our backs. Cyprus is living through unprecedented conditions; mass unemployment, poverty and uncertainty about the future. But neither fatalism, nor apathy and inaction will change things. Each of us is responsible to himself/herself and to the future generations.
This is why we should all think twice before saying “I do not care” and “Nothing changes”. Everything concerns us and everything can change. The question is whether decisions are made about us, without us – if things will change for the better or for the worse. The elections are an opportunity to send a message of disapproval of the anti-peoples policies and of resistance to the efforts to demolish what we have built.
We should convey a message of dignity of our people who is paying for the sins of a small financial oligarchy; a message for a perspective for a future that we as Cypriots deserve.
AKEL taught rapprochement
– Several thousand of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots have the right to vote in the upcoming European elections. What message do you send them?
– Our Party has always been at the forefront of the struggle for liberation and reunification. It knew that to achieve this common struggle of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, who love their common homeland and peace, is needed. We therefore worked so hard to promote this common struggle. AKEL paved the way, I dare say taught, the rapprochement of the two communities to Cypriot society without yielding, despite the attacks that it came under from time to time. AKEL forged the unity of the people of Cyprus in difficult times and continues to do so today. There are on-going efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem. At the same time, both within the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot community, extreme Right wing forces are again attempting to spread their poison. It is crucial that we do not to allow them to do so; that we strengthen the voice of the Left in Cyprus and abroad, so that we can open together with the progressive forces of the two communities the road of peace and reunification. I call, therefore, on them to participate in the elections and vote for AKEL -Left – New Forces.
The government is crippling the health sector
– These days you’ve had the opportunity to witness the problems facing the people, due to the weaknesses in the health system. We talked with doctors and nurses, patients … What does AKEL propose to solve these problems?
– The first thing is to stop the government from implementing indiscriminate spending cuts on Health. Without even the Troika requesting it, the government reduced by 53 million Euros spending on Health. In the coming years, it is planning to cut expenditure on Health even more. It is worth pointing out that spending on the health sector in Cyprus is 30% less than the average expenditure in the member states of the European Union. Without this expenditure on Health how will hospitals be staffed? How will it be possible to provide quality public health for all without exception?
The priorities of AKEL, besides others, in the field of Health are: first, to stand as a bastion of resistance to any plans of selling off health services and on this opportunity I call on the Ministry of Health to disclose the amount it is giving to buy services from the private sector at the same time when it is making more and more cuts in the state sector. Second, AKEL insists on the immediate implementation of the National Health Scheme and on our position not to sell off health services to large financial interests and insurance companies. Third, AKEL supports the operation of the Medical School and finally the adequate staffing of public hospitals.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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