Speech of Andros Kyprianou, General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL, at the session of the 22nd Congress of AKEL on the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of Cyprus – AKEL
Saturday 6th June 2015
In my introductory speech to the Party Congress I made a reference to the completion of the 90th anniversary of AKEL. I will just say a few words at this modest ceremony.
There are many of those that the Communist Party of Cyprus-AKEL has organized and nurtured who could have talked about the meaning of its 90th anniversary. They are all those comrades who gave to the CPC-AKEL the life, sacrifices, thought and militancy to take its first initial steps, to proceed and grow into a mass party and become what it is today: a Party that is highly appreciated in the people’s consciousness, particularly among the working people.
I could have made a brief historical review about the most important landmarks during this 90 year course. This however is not capable of encompassing all that the poet Theodosis Pierides condensed in his verses about AKEL, that is to say about the unending grief that became a force; the anguish that became a decision; the pain that became a rage and the rage that became a daily struggle. These are what gave birth to the Party of the Working People. However, instead of a journey through time, it is better, in honouring the 90th anniversary of our Party and the memory of those who have passed away and through all of you here, the veterans of AKEL, to talk today about what our Party gave and what it gained from this path of struggle.
The Communist Party of Cyprus – AKEL was born in an era when “working hours generally lasted from sunrise to sunset .. even more oppressive was the manifestation of this inequality in the way workers were treated in order to underline the superiority of the employers to whom any thought of resistance was unnatural and unthinkable,” as the late comrade historian Rolandos Katsiaounis aptly describes.
The first service of the vanguard communists to the country was precisely this: the awakening of people’s awareness and their belief that the natural thing would be for people to live with dignity. This was achieved through the establishment and growth of the workers movement. There is not a single gain for workers, whether this is the eight hour working day or social security or healthcare, which does not bear the mark of the People’s Movement of the Left; that was not a demand that was defended until the end by the thousands of workers and peasants which the Party of the working class led in their struggles.
As there isn’t a single moment during this 90 years of history where the CPC – AKEL gave in and yielded to the interests of colonialism or to the local economic oligarchy. The period of the British colonial yoke under Palmer was characteristic. At that time when the British colonialists were unleashing vicious attacks against the CPC, figures of the bourgeoisie were applauding and welcoming the elimination of “the scourge of communism”, as they said. They simultaneously enjoyed the posts, privileges and medals the British were granting them, willingly yielding everything.
Nevertheless, the dominant historical narrative insists on not recognizing the role of the Left, its contribution to the mass anti-colonial struggle of our people. It is another way AKEL to be “punished” forever for the prophetic stand it chose to adopt during the anti-colonial struggle. That is to say, to point out to the path of political and not armed struggle and the importance for the Cypriot people as a whole to participate in this struggle without any exclusions. Knowledge of the given situation and conditions, the maturity of Cypriot communists, steadfastness, consistency, an honest and sincere stand – this was the approach which our Party has maintained and maintains for decades regarding the cause of Cyprus. This is the approach which literally rescued Cyprus, that which depended on AKEL, from many adventures.
Suffice to remember that for the first time the concept of “the policy of assassination and murder” was applied in Cyprus with the blood of the members and cadres of AKEL. The insight and patriotism which our Party showed at that time prevented the outbreak of a civil war. “Terrorism and fascism can be addressed and must be addressed through the mass struggle of the people…only when we arouse the overwhelming majority of the people, Right and Left, Greeks and Turks actively against terror will we succeed in crushing it”, said Ezekias Papaioannou back then. In other words,, unity and political struggle. AKEL pursued this line unwaveringly. Because of its steadfastness, AKEL came under vicious attacks both from domestic, as well as foreign forces. Nationalism knew and always feared that as long as AKEL exists nationalism’s poison would also be in vain and the Cypriot people will remain united. Imperialism knew that as long as AKEL existed it would always break one link in the chain that for years was being prepared to keep Cyprus chained to its yoke.
There isn’t a serious student of this country’s history who does not admit that the CPC-AKEL, the People’s Movement of the Left, broke chains, showed the way to the people, both with regards major, but also secondary issues and problems. It was and is, it acted and is working in practice, as the Party of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins. In 1974 it found the strength to build the hope on the ruins and devastation of the coup d’état and the invasion, joining hands with all our progressive Turkish Cypriot compatriots. It opened up for the people of toil and labour a whole new world with the Movement of Cultural and Educational Clubs when back then the theatre and books were a privilege reserved for the ruling class. It raised the people of culture and highlighted the importance of the arts and letters in the frontline of the struggle for a better future. It showed the way for women, when involvement in political struggle and affairs, as well as the breaking of the stereotype of women confined to the kitchen was seen as scandalous. It organized young people to fight for their future; the peasants to reap the fruit of their labour.
As I began this reference to what the Party offered by invoking the words of Rolandos Katsiaounis, I will also refer to him again to conclude my intervention. AKEL, Katsiaounis pointed out, “nurtured working people with the ideals of democracy, national liberation and socialism. In solving day-to-day problems, but also at critical moments of Cyprus’ history AKEL was also next to the people, offering its support, opinion and determined leadership. The basic source of AKEL’s strength lies in the fact that it always took care to listen, to express the collective objectives and meet the broader aspirations of the working people. The cadres of the Party never represented an elite cut off from the people, but in their overwhelming majority had their roots in these struggling popular strata which they had vowed to serve”.
Dear veterans of the Party,
In this long march until today hundreds undertook the heavy task of this cause. Among them you too, as the leadership of this Party. It is an honour for us to honour you because through you we honour a part of our History; because you represent that era when no political position and action was put into practice without danger , often by sacrificing one’s very life; because you represent that era when everyone believed that the end of History had been written and our banners should been abandoned you were the ones who raised these banners even higher; because every political and electoral battle, every political and electoral victory had a personal cost for each and everyone; because I am sure that none of you remember that the just cause of the struggle deprived you of many things, but at the same time it smiles at you and you say, it wasn’t in vain, it was worth all the sacrifices. It is an honour for us to honour you because you proved to be worthy of the title of member of AKEL. It never entered your mind to exchange your ideology for a life without statements of repentance and in return you opted for a life for which you have never regretted not for a single moment.
You were in the front line of the struggle many years on a path that as Demetris Christofias had said, “comes from afar in the past and will go even further”. We apart from the medal of honour can only give you one assurance: that we shall continue, so many and so many others this path of struggle. We shall march ever forward. We shall make much stronger so that it will take society forward.
 Former General Secretary and historical leader of AKEL
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
- Feb26 2015-02-26
- Nov13 2014-11-13