“Working people’s joint action is imperative” – Interview with Vera Polycarpou, Head of the International Relations and European Affairs Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL
“HARAVGI” daily newspaper, Sunday 8th November 2015
“The Communist Parties need to build on the many issues that unite them, leaving differences to one side”
The need for stronger joint action in support of workers and the peoples in the difficult conditions of the ongoing capitalist crisis was stressed by Vera Polycarpou, Head of the International Relations and European Affairs Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL in an interview with “Haravgi” newspaper. She referred in detail to the deliberations of the recent 17th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties (IMCWP), pointing out that the Communist parties should build on the many things that unite them, leaving aside their differences. Vera Polycarpou headed the AKEL delegation to the 17th IMCWP (29/10-1/11/2015), together with Elias Demetriou, member of the International Relations Bureau of the C.C., which was hosted by the Communist Party (KP) of Turkey with the participation of 104 representatives of 58 parties from 48 countries from all over the world.
How do you assess the work of the 17th IMCWP?
VP: This year the IMCWP was held in difficult conditions, as the comrades of KP prepared its organization in the midst of a pre-election campaign and the Turkish government’s state terrorism which the whole world witnessed on the path to the election. Nevertheless, the IMCWP was excellently organized by the KP.
With regards the deliberations of the Meeting, there was an exchange of views and experiences from the different countries about the very difficult conditions the peoples and workers are experiencing today, as a result of either the military or other interventions or the ongoing capitalist crisis. The IMCWP was a forum for exchanging thoughts with the aim of seeing where we can act together, given the differences in evaluations and approaches that do exist, as we are speaking about different Communist parties that are struggling in different countries under different conditions and with different traditions. There was an attempt to find convergences in order to promote joint action, and I consider the result of the 17th IMCWP as positive. Of course a lot more still needs to be done to reach the required level, far from any inwardness so that we can intensify our actions in favour of the working people and our peoples in general. It is the responsibility of each party towards its own people to do so.
As far as the interventions of the parties are concerned, the dominant issues were the developments in the Middle East, the question of extreme fundamentalism, the migration issue, the anti-communist mania and working people’s social struggles.
What was AKEL’s intervention at the meeting focused on?
VP: In the intervention of AKEL naturally, since we were in Turkey itself, emphasis was given to the Cyprus problem in the struggle for a solution based on principles and to Turkey’s particular role which is not moving in the direction of the withdrawal of the occupying troops. We analysed the developments surrounding the Cyprus problem. We also expressed our concerns with regards the stance of the European Union which is ready to give rewards to Turkey, such as the opening of EU accession chapters, for the refugee issue. We highlighted the Turkish occupation, the attempt at the assimilation of the Turkish Cypriot community through colonization, the alteration of the demographic character of the occupied areas, but also the attempt to “Islamize” the Turkish Cypriots. Within this framework we also referred to Turkey’s violations in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus and to the transfer of water from Turkey to the occupied areas. The result was expressed in the declaration of solidarity signed by 48 Communist and Workers Parties towards the people of Cyprus.
Apart from the Cyprus problem, we talked about the difficult conditions experienced by the working people as a result of the austerity attack amid the economic crisis. We focused on the situation in the Middle East and the escalation of NATO’s aggression, as well as the on the European Union’s full alignment with NATO, particularly after the imposition of the Lisbon Treaty. We are against the militarization of the EU’s external relations and stressed the position of AKEL “Neither NATO in Cyprus, nor Cyprus in NATO.” We discussed about the rise of Nazism-fascism in Europe with Ukraine as an example where the Communist Party of Ukraine is being prosecuted in the courts.
We stressed the need for the expression of practical international solidarity with the fight of struggling peoples. At the same time, inter alia, we denounced the hypocrisy of the EU on the refugee question, whilst we also referred to the recent solidarity visit to Palestine and Israel which took place, implementing the decision taken by the 16th IMCWP. AKEL’s proposal for international action by the Communist and Workers parties on 29th November, that is to say the organization of an international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, was warmly accepted. As AKEL, we noted that we utilize every forum and our parliamentary representation in regional bodies (for example, the European Parliament, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe PACE, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe OSCE etc.) to enhance solidarity with the peoples.
Concluding AKEL’s intervention, we stated that we know that there are differences between the parties, but the essence is that many things unite us and we have the responsibility to build on precisely what unites us.
On the initiative of AKEL Declarations of Solidarity with the Cypriot and Palestinian people were signed on the side-lines of the Meeting. Were there any other resolutions approved by the IMCWP, besides the joint actions that were agreed?
VP: AKEL’s initiative on the Palestinian issue, as a continuation of the aforementioned visit to Palestine, was highly appreciated. On the side-lines of the IMCWP several solidarity statements, such as those with regards the Ukrainian people and the anti-communist persecution of the Communist Party of Ukraine, with the Syrian people, with the people of socialist Cuba demanding the lifting of the US blockade, with the peoples of Latin America, especially Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil which are facing machinations to destabilize them, with the people of Mexico concerning the deadly attacks against communists and trade unionists as well as the disappearance of the 43 students and with the people of Turkey, were circulated.
Furthermore, we signed a declaration of solidarity with the people of Lebanon, since the Lebanese Communist Party is in the front line of the struggle of the popular mass movement that began in the summer and has become a movement to replace the political system of religious sectarianism with a democratic system.
There was also a joint declaration against the imperialist interventions and military bases in our region.
What contacts did you have in Istanbul on the fringes of the International Meeting?
VP: We had a series of meetings with several parties from all over the world who participated in the IMCWP, deepening our bilateral relations and exchange of views. We had, as AKEL, a meeting with the General Secretary of the Communist Party (KP) Kemal Okuyan, where the solidarity of the Turkish communists with the struggle of the Cypriot people for the liberation and reunification of Cyprus was once again expressed. The Communist Party also co-signed the declaration of solidarity we had promoted on the Cyprus problem.
At the same time, like the other foreign representatives, we participated on 29th October in the central political-cultural pre-election meeting of KP, while we also visited the “Nazim Hikmet” Cultural Centre. I must say that there was a mass participation in the election event of KP. The characteristic feature of the meeting was that the people were composed of many young people who were particularly expressive.
“Solidarity is the weapon of the peoples”
You recently assumed the responsibility of Head of the International Relations and European Affairs Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL. What are the Department’s main priorities?
VP: Our Bureau’s priorities are in line and stem from the decisions of AKEL’s 22nd Congress. We consider this field of work as an arena where we convey the experiences from our activity in Cyprus, promoting and projecting the Cyprus problem, highlighting and seeking solidarity and support with our struggle for a solution. At the same time, we learn from the experiences and struggles of the other parties. What is happening in Cyprus to the working people, apart from the special characteristics in Cyprus, is also happening in other countries during the crisis.
We are seeking to deepen the relations we have with a large group of parties, Communist, left and progressive, to enhance mutual understanding, contributing towards broader unity of action. For AKEL actions of internationalist solidarity towards struggling peoples is very important, because we are also seeking the expression of solidarity with Cyprus and its struggle. We put particular emphasis on our region which is currently up in flames.
AKEL, apart from solidarity actions, has hosted many regional solidarity meetings in Cyprus, for example on the Palestinian issue. We shall continue this activity. Contributing to the struggle for peace, we are fighting against the military bases and the presence of foreign armies in the Mediterranean, as well as the struggle to create a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.
At the same time, we will deepen our understanding of international developments and the role of NATO and the EU and will try to properly inform the members of AKEL and by extension the people of Cyprus who anything but are informed of the truth by the majority of the mass media Only when you know the truth can you resist and express real solidarity.
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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