Press Conference of Andros Kyprianou, General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL, on the 2014 European Elections
AKEL C.C. Press Office
12th May 2014, International Conference Centre, Nicosia
On 25th May we are all called to cast our vote in th
e European elections. AKEL-Left-New Forces is asserting these elections with the slogan “Resistance – Dignity – Perspective”. These three words are not accidental. It is our own response to all that the Eurogroup agreed with President Anastasiades in March 2013. The slogan represents our own reply to those who demanded and accepted Cyprus becoming an experimental guinea pig. It is our own response to the brutal attack on the Cyprus economy and Cypriot society; an attack that every day is killing the perspective of an exit from the problems.
AKEL has for decades been insisting that the European Union is not some big happy loving family, but the union of powerful interests. All these years the governing Democratic Rally DISY party has not only rushed to denounce us as “dogmatic”, “ideologically obsessed” and “glued to the past”. At the same time, it was cultivating a position that it should have the support of the people because DISY belonged to the biggest political group of Europe, namely the European People’s Party (EPP). DISY was always stressing that its relationship with the EPP will be of benefit to Cyprus and our people.
So, who has in the end been vindicated? What heavy price and cost are Cyprus and its people today paying for the myths and illusions cultivated by Mr. Anastasiades and the Democratic Rally party about our Europeans “friends/partners”? Precisely because their fraternal parties governed and ruled the majority of the countries of the European Union, precisely because they held the majority in the European Parliament they have the greatest responsibility for the developments that followed; developments that are to a great extent due to their own policies, policies which DISY supported as well.
The pressing need and challenge of course is not the vindication of one or the other party, but to promote and support policies that will benefit the peoples of Europe, the people of Cyprus.
The Group of the Left in the European Parliament has proved to be over time consistent on matters of principle; the most consistent ally of Cyprus from all the other political groups in the European Parliament. In contrast, the European People’s Party proves to be our mischievous friend. Let me give one example. DISY is celebrating that its own positions regarding the Cyprus problem were included in the Election Manifesto of the EPP. The EP Report on Turkey however, prepared by a prominent figure of the EPP Group, Mrs. Oymen, clashes with these positions. The Report deleted European principles and human rights. Indeed, the Report’s Rapporteur Oymen rejected the amendment submitted by AKEL denouncing the colonization of the occupied areas, whilst in the Report the issue of direct trade with the occupied areas is misrepresented, resulting in the stance and position of the Republic of Cyprus being presented as unjustified. Oymen’s Report was so negative that even DISY itself was forced to vote against it. What’s going on with the friends Democratic Rally then? Why should Cypriots vote for a party that supports principles only in words, whilst in practice it operates based on serving interests? These interests clash with those of Cyprus.
The European People’s Party governs and rules half of Europe with no encouraging results at all. In the Eurozone, the average unemployment rate has risen to 12.1% and 11% in the European Union. One in four people in the Member States of the European Union are living in poverty. Over 43 million people in the European Union cannot afford to provide a meal every other day. All these are not preordained curses. They are the result of the policies imposed by the right-wing and social democratic governments in Europe.
On 25th May, we are called to go to the polling station to approve or reject these very policies; to send out a message to the ruling circles with our vote. The bitter experience of March 2013 does not allow us to abstain. Now, we all know very well, that they are counting on our own abstention and indifference to continue imposing undisturbed new anti-social policies.
Against austerity measures, attacks on our wages, pensions and rights, and faced with the danger of the sale of our homes and privatizations we need to react resolutely. We need to send them a message to the Europeans that their policies are a dead-end; that they have constructed a European Union that has nothing to do with the Europe we envision. We envision a Europe that promotes peace and not war; a Europe that will stand by democracy and not extreme Nazi movements; a Europe of social justice, solidarity and cohesion. Therefore, we must support those that have always fought for these positions, namely AKEL-Left-New Forces.
A powerful AKEL the day after the elections can also guarantee that Cyprus will fight with courage and dignity for the prospect of reunification and our people’s prosperity.
It’s difficult for anyone to deny that AKEL is the political force that serves with consistency the cause of the vindication of Cyprus; that sets as its first and principal objective the solution of the Cyprus problem and the reunification of our country and people. For precisely this reason and in the absence of any viable alternative option, AKEL supported and supports the procedure of the negotiations. We expected that AKEL would come under an all-out attack from certain parties because of the position we take. Unfortunately, for some years certain forces and circles are opposed to negotiations without counter-proposing anything meaningful and substantive. They demand that we abandon the long-standing positions of the National Council without explaining what we must assert and fight for; without telling us what will happen if the talks come to an end; without giving any convincing answer on who will support us in all that they unfeasibly propose.
Even worse, all those circles and forces who backed Mr. Anastasiades to come to power with their support and tolerance or by their abstention, are today accusing AKEL that it is in a common path with him. They are the ones in all the critical issues, consciously sided with and were on the same side with him ∙ whether we are talking about the haircut on bank deposits, or in relation to the privatizations, or with regards the adventure of the drawing up of a joint communiqué, or the non-regulation of the issue of the sale of primary family residence.
I repeat for the umpteenth time: AKEL supports the procedure of the talks and not Mr. Anastasiades. We support the procedure of the talks because only with a correct solution will Cyprus and our people have a future and a perspective, because every day that passes by without results, brings the nightmare scenario of partition even closer and closer. We know all too well that the perpetuation of the occupation and its consequences can only be against the Cypriot people. Basic principles and aspirations of the Greek Cypriot side are gradually being undermined. The Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied areas are illegally being developed and some of them are being sold at humiliating prices in Turkey through the so-called Compensation Commission. The settlers from Turkey in the occupied areas are steadily increasing, already constituting the majority in the occupied areas.
All of these reasons are more than enough for us to seek a solution as soon as possible – but not any solution. We want a solution that will reunite our country and people and not a solution that will institutionalise the separate living of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots; a solution that ensures the full demilitarization and withdrawal of settlers; a solution of a bi-communal bi-zonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions; a solution that will lead to a unified state with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship; a solution that will ensure the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, including the right of return of the refugees to their homes and properties.
What is certain is that we do not give a blank check to President Anastasiades. We have warned repeatedly that the President should go to the negotiations with clear objectives and tactics; with perseverance on the basic principles of the solution of the Cyprus problem, utilizing the convergences recorded between Christofias and Talat. He should go to the talks asserting as regards the substance of the positions that will be submitted on the table. We shall judge the President based on all of these and the results he achieves.
The European elections will be held in unprecedented conditions for the economy and society of Cyprus. In the first year of the implementation of the Memorandum of Mr. Anastasiades-Eurogroup a lot has been said and written, as well as many contradictory statements and positions. We were told that Mr. Anastasiades knew about the haircut/levy on the banking deposits. The day after, he confessed that he knew about it. One day they were telling us that Mr. Anastasiades was a victim of the extortion and blackmail exerted by our “partners” and that is why he accepted everything. On another day they proclaimed that the Memorandum of Understanding agreed could well be their own political and ideological Manifesto. Even if it Cyprus’ lenders hadn’t imposed it, we were told, we should have implemented it by ourselves.
However, the biggest lie is what they are spreading and propagating lately on a daily basis. This is what they saying in a few words: “We have stabilization, we will soon achieve recovery.” Some might say that with these government slogans, the opposition chooses to respond to nihilism. Let’s see what the real situation of the Cyprus economy is.
The haircut on bank deposits, the withdrawal of money from the banks and the sale of the branches of the Cypriot banks in Greece has created a huge financial black hole of about 20 billion Euros. In just one night, the financial sector has suffered a violent contraction. A credit crunch prevails with serious adverse effects on economic activity. The banks instead of supporting the economy are exerting even more pressure on it, causing even greater problems. It appears that the contraction of the GDP is likely to exceed 15% for 2013.
Thousands of small businesses are being driven to closure and the problem of unemployment is becoming a social scourge, especially among the young generation it has exploded, having surpassed 40%. All those who owe money to the banks are suffering daily suffocating pressures. Wages and pensions were reduced drastically. People cannot afford to pay their loans and consequently the properties of the poor are in danger of being confiscated and appropriated. The national public wealth and property is being driven to a clearance sale at a cheap price. The trade sector, particularly retail, shrank by 30%, affecting the same percentage of consumption that was a key factor of our economy.
The construction and real estate sector are faltering. The demand from abroad has been greatly reduced. Unemployment stands at 17.8 % or 78,000 people. Cuts in health, education and social benefits are driving thousands of Cypriots daily to the limits of despair. The same uncertainty holds for the future.
Is there a solution to all this? Is there a way out? What is certain is that the exit from all this cannot be provided by the same policies that have plunged our people deeper and deeper into despair, mass unemployment and poverty. The Anastasiades-DISY government may have convinced that it has the good will to protect, apart from the few, also the majority of the people, but it does not do so.
As AKEL, we have submitted many proposals and we shall table other proposals subsequently with the hope that the Government will venture to invite all the political forces to a dialogue in order to provide solutions to the burning problems that we all face today. A common front with the political parties, educational organizations and other involved parties should be forged to tackle the devastating policies being proposed for the educational system. We should insist on the implementation of the General Health Scheme as soon as possible in order to halt the dismantling of public hospitals affecting thousands of people around us every day. We need to discuss feasible proposals, such as the implementation of policies for supporting SME’s through targeted programs and providing incentives. New jobs should be created through social care and welfare programmes, with the participation and engagement of organizations such as Local Authorities, the Cooperative Movement, the Public Utility Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations. The Cypriot labour force should be prepared and trained for the advent of Cyprus’ natural gas. We should work together to hold rents at prices suited to today’s standards; to protect the primary family house and highly indebted individuals and households; to provide social support to the unemployed through financial support and other measures; to elaborate a fairer system of taxation on large immovable property. On all of these issues, we have submitted concrete proposals and are ready, if called upon, to discuss them with the Government.
We are living in unprecedented conditions in Cyprus today. The impact of the economic crisis has affected to a large extent the lives of each and every one of us. Is it logical that this causes concern and uncertainty about the future; provoking frustration and scorn at the political forces. These are compounded by all that is publicized with regards phenomena of corruption and collusion, whether it is true or lies. The tactic of levelling however is not a solution. AKEL all the previous years, with its mistakes, weaknesses and shortcomings, has never stopped defending policies that shield the majority, namely the working people; policies protecting the weak; policies ensuring the future of the majority of the people and not the privileged few. Nor will it stop doing so now. AKEL drew valuable lessons from the experiences of recent years. We learned and drew lessons from our mistakes. We are trying to renew and improve; to become more effective in defending the rights and interests of the people. Our era is volatile and only if we stand united and strong against the attacks launched on the life and future of every Cypriot will we succeed.
I am addressing the people of Cyprus and especially the voters of AKEL. On 25th May we have the opportunity to raise our voice against the ruling circles of Brussels and the Anastasiades government, to say “Enough is enough!”, enough of the mockery; enough of the dismantling and abolition of all that Cypriots have won through sweat and fierce struggles. To succeed, we need to vote for a powerful AKEL in these elections; a powerful AKEL is the hope of resistance to the policies against the people and their interests. A strong AKEL will send a strong message of dignity, of a new course to support development and growth, the welfare state and social cohesion. It will convey a strong message for a Europe of peace and solidarity. A powerful AKEL is a guarantee of consistent efforts and a correct course on the Cyprus problem.
Conversely, if AKEL is weakened DISY – more arrogant and authoritarian – will unhindered implement its policies against the people and its interests. We address the voters and call on them to think, judge and vote with their hand on their heart to support AKEL-Left-New Forces for Resistance, Dignity and a Perspective.
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