Speech by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL A. Kyprianou at the meeting on the anniversary of Cyprus Independence Day
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 28th September 2017, Limassol
For every state, the anniversary of its independence is a day of joy. It is an opportunity to review the historical course of a country that has won its independence and sovereignty and is looking to the future with optimism.
For Cyprus, the anniversary of its independence is a day of reflection and contemplation. Unfortunately, for our country, the review of Cyprus’ historical course does not lead to the conclusion that the collective struggle that had been waged led to a genuine independence and sovereignty. Instead, our homeland in a turbulent path was led to a shackled independence, followed by many bloody adventures culminating in the black summer of July 1974.
We all know that we didn’t wage a united struggle as a people to liberate ourselves from the British colonial yoke. There were different approaches. As AKEL, we believed that our people’s struggle should have been waged on a political level with the mass participation of the whole of the Cypriot people. The then leadership of the Right completely rejected our position without even discussing it, choosing to wage an armed struggle; a struggle in which – even if the Left had wanted to – it wouldn’t have been allowed to participate in. This for sure isn’t just due to expediencies and petty-factional approaches. The Right-wing had other reasons to seek to monopolize the anti-colonial struggle, far deeper and political reasons. Anti-communism at that time was at its peak. In many of his references in his “Memoirs”, Grivas strongly expressed the view for the need to exterminate the Communists.
“I had pointed out from the very beginning the principle that should have been implemented with regards the communists… that is, they should be attacked and humiliated so that they won’t be able to play any role on the political level or in the struggle.” These words were written in January 1958 by Grivas in a letter addressed to the Metropolitan Bishop Anthimos. Grivas and the then leadership of the Right knew very well that the day after the anti-colonial struggle, the issue of power would also surface. The liberation of Cyprus from colonialism would leave a “vacuum of power” that for sure they weren’t prepared to permit the Left to assert for democratically. They were determined to stifle and suppress AKEL’s influence, the biggest and most organized political party of the country, so that it wouldn’t have any say and role in political affairs.
Instead of AKEL’s disagreement over the armed character of the struggle being analyzed correctly and primarily politically, it became the weapon with which they attempted to attack it by beginning to propagate the myth of “betrayal”. This unfortunately is the Right’s attitude whenever we have disagreed with it on key national or/and other issues.
Our Party back then, as always, was targeted by fanatical and extremist elements. The term “political murders” was written for the first time in Cyprus, with the bloody murder of members and militants of AKEL. Grivas’ masked men were cowardly attacking militants of the People’s Movement of the Left and then ran to hide in the night. Decades have passed for the relatives of our murdered comrades to have the even moral vindication being restored by the D. Christofias government. For entire decades – up to this very date as well – the Right’s narrative continues to propagate the myth about “traitors”.
“There were traitors and even conscious agents of the English, and EOKA has often experienced extreme dangers because of them. All the traitors were members of the Organization and were fanatical nationalists,” noted Ourania Kokkinou (Note: a prominent and renowned EOKA leader).
The stigma of the “leftist traitor” simply provided the necessary excuse for the masked hooded men to execute Grivas’ orders aiming to weaken AKEL. In 1958, the year when the orgy of political murders against AKEL and the movement of the Left was at its peak, Grivas wrote in a letter addressed to Makarios, “I will also mercilessly attack the Communist traitors and will begin an all-out war against them…”, which is precisely what subsequently occurred.
The killings were of such intensity, frequency and brutality that our Party was under pressure to reply in the same way. The determination and courage demonstrated by the leadership of AKEL was remarkable at that time. Ezekias Papaioannou, the General Secretary of AKEL back then writes in his autobiography: “The greatest trial and test in my life was when EOKA was murdering the people of the Left who had the stain of being labelled “traitors”, whilst our people wanted to respond to these crimes in the same way.
For the entire AKEL leadership this was indeed a very tough test. Should AKEL give in and succumb to the pressure of Party members and supporters and respond in the same way or should it confine itself to organizing mass denunciations and protests against the horrific crimes being committed? The leadership of AKEL did not give in. It placed above all the interests of the people and the country and adamantly refused to lead developments towards a civil war. I remember one night when some comrades came to see me extremely angry and told me, “If you don’t let us reply to the killings, we’ll kill you.” I replied, “I prefer you kill me instead of seeing thousands of people and children crying.”
The line followed by our Party back then was absolutely correct. If we had responded to the violence against us with violence, Cyprus would have plunged into the whirlpool of a civil war. The consequences of such a development would have been unforeseeable and disastrous for our country’s cause. This stand taken by our Party highlights its patriotic character and the political superiority it demonstrates at critical moments our country has gone through.
In the end, although the liberation struggle moved and enthralled the majority of the Cypriot people, despite the heroism and sacrifices made, it didn’t lead to the then desirable outcome of self-determination and Enosis (Note: union of Cyprus with Greece). The different goals of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leadership and the growth of nationalism in both communities led to a stalemate.
The British colonialists rushed to exploit developments. They fermented and cultivated conflict so that the two communities in 1958 were essentially in armed confrontation with each other. With the British Prime Minister Macmillan plan, the subjugation of Cyprus under the triple sovereignty of Britain, Turkey and Greece, was hanging as the sword of Damocles over the Cypriot people’s future. Faced with the deadlocks that had been caused, Britain got Turkey involved in the conflict, thus transforming itself from a colonialist to an arbiter.
The future of Cyprus was finally determined at the sidelines of NATO and by the meeting between Greek Prime Minster Karamanlis and Turkish Prime Minister Menderes in Zurich. On 11th February 1959 in the Swiss city, Athens and Ankara both agreed to a solution of a conditional independence. As it was later disclosed, the agreement also contained a secret protocol that provided for Cyprus’ accession to NATO and for AKEL to continue to be banned.
As AKEL, we had disagreed with the Zurich-London Agreements. This was because they provided for military bases in Britain and burdened Cyprus with the system of guarantees and the presence of foreign troops; because they imposed on the Cypriot people a given, divisive and undemocratic constitution.
However, independence was a valuable gain on which we could have built a better future for Cyprus and our people. That’s the reason why, although maintaining our disagreement with the Zurich-London Agreements, we called on the Cypriot people to support and embrace the newly established Republic of Cyprus. We called on the two communities to work together to heal the wounds and for the prosperity of our homeland.
The Party’s political line on Independence is fully is condensed in a comprehensive manner in the following political decision approved by the AKEL Party Congress in 1962:
“The main task of the Cypriot people is the struggle for the completion of Cyprus Independence, democracy, the smooth democratic development of internal political life and the economic prosperity of Cyprus.
To fulfill this fundamental task, a broader anti-imperialist unity, cooperation and common struggle between all the patriotic forces of the Cypriot people, Greeks, Turks, Armenians, right and left, and the full implementation of a consistent genuine foreign policy of positive neutrality are necessary.
To promote and consolidate this anti-imperialist unity, it is essential that all the patriotic forces of the people, through their joint struggle, decisively defeat and impede the active efforts of imperialism and its organs aimed at dividing the people. Every effort must be made by all sides to re-establish relations of understanding, mutual respect and cooperation between Greeks and Turks, based on the common Cypriot interests and against the imperialist interests alien to Cyprus.”
Since the 1960’s AKEL had been urging the Cypriot people to embrace independence, albeit shackled, and to struggle united to defend the common Cypriot interests.
But the plans of Cyprus’ enemies were different. They used the nationalist and chauvinist circles to lead developments back to clashes again. They didn’t have any difficulty in doing so at all. This is because, on the one hand for the Greek Cypriot nationalists, independence was simply seen as a stepping stone on the road to Enosis, and on the other for the Turkish Cypriot it was perceived as a step on the road to partition. Many Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, who believed in independence and loved the Republic of Cyprus as their common home, paid a heavy price with their own blood.
The intercommunal clashes with on the one hand the slogan of Enosis and on the other the slogan of Taksim (Note: Turkish word for partition), dealt severe blows to the Republic of Cyprus. Makarios then spoke of the feasible and desirable solution. His opponents, obsessively attached to Enosis, even though independence had been declared, fiercely fought him, accusing him of being a “sell-out” who betrayed the vision of Enosis just to remain president.
In other words, not even when we had agreed on independence, even though it was shackled, nor when we saw that the river could not turn back, did these circles and forces abandon their dogmatism and pseudo-patriotism. On the contrary, they facilitated the plans and interests of imperialism’s aggressions and Turkish expansionism.
Eventually, what imperialism didn’t manage to accomplish with its plans was achieved by its mouthpieces. Just as NATO had planned it, Grivas, the Greek Junta and EOKA B attempted to execute the first goal: murder Makarios. The coup d’état of July 15th 1974 created the perfect pretext for NATO and Turkey to proceed to the second goal: to chain Cyprus to the NATO war chariot and the control of its territory by Turkey. This goal was sought through the Turkish invasion and ongoing occupation to date.
Regrettably until now, we haven’t been able to assess the long path of the Cyprus problem in an objective way, that is without any narrow-minded approaches and short-sighted perceptions. We do not all draw the necessary lessons. We did not all recognize that when the feasible solution is sacrificed for the sake of the desirable solution, the great loser is the Cypriot people and our Cyprus. We haven’t all succeeded in overcoming the temptation to put petty-party interests over and above the interests of our people and country.
Developments themselves have now proved that AKEL made every effort towards this end. When Mr. Anastasiades took over the presidency of the Republic, we said that we would not follow the example of the unjust and destructive opposition which he himself had waged fiercely against Mr. Christofias and AKEL. In the end, it turned out that Mr. Anastasiades had for some time been treating the talks as a burden in order to rally his voters and for his re-election to the presidency.
In saying all these things, we repeat that Turkey is responsible for the non-solution of the Cyprus problem. The essence is: how do we make things difficult for it? Did we corner Turkey or did we facilitate it due to the way we operated? As AKEL from the very outset, we had stated our readiness to support the negotiation procedure, provided that the President of the Republic would continue the talks from where they had left off. Mr. Anastasiades did not listen to AKEL’s view. With the support and encouragement of all the other political parties, he sidelined the Christofias-Talat convergences and sought to begin negotiations from scratch. After one year his policy collapsed, with the UN Secretary-General submitting the worst report for the Greek Cypriot side since 2004, a report to the Security Council, while the Turkish vessel “Barbaros” was provocatively roaming undisturbed in our southern shores.
Faced with the deadlocks that Mr. Anastasiades himself had caused, he was forced to proceed with the conclusion of the Joint Communiqué with Mr. Eroglu in February 2014. Unfortunately, his regressions were accompanied by concessions, going back on the positions achieved by comrade Christofias.
Mr. Akinci as soon as he assumed the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community, announced that he accepts the Christofias-Talat convergences, thus forcing the President of the Republic to follow suit.
Since then, despite regressions on both sides, progress has been recorded at the negotiating table. We had Mont Peleran 1 and 2 and then Geneva. After difficulties and a long delay over many months we arrived at Crans Montana.
Months before we had called on the President to discuss, informally, the remaining key issues; to explore up to what point the Turkish side was ready to go, whether there was room for an understanding. Unfortunately he didn’t listen to us. Instead, he was a captive of his own petty-party calculations, getting tangled up with the Enosis referendum, and ending up severely harming the negotiation procedure.
Before going to the Crans Montana conference, in the meeting of the National Council, AKEL stressed the meeting’s importance to Mr. Anastasiades. We underlined that we should have gone there focused on the goal of the solution; that we should have been adequately and thoroughly prepared to address the difficulties that would arise as a result of the Turkish side’s stand.
Knowing this, we should have shown more determination and resoluteness, not by making concessions on matters of principles, but by taking initiatives that would either have forced Turkey to respond, or that would have left it exposed in the eyes of the international community.
The arrival of the Secretary-General of the United Nations gave an impetus to the procedure. The framework he put before both sides highlighted the remaining outstanding issues and represents a good basis for negotiation. Unfortunately, after his departure, no substantive discussion took place. Mr. Anastasiades submitted a proposal on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem which did not find a response from the Turkish side.
The return of Mr. Guterres to Crans Montana on July 6th was extremely important and that’s how we should have perceived it. It was obvious that the UN Secretary-General favored the abolition of guarantees and rights of intervention from the very beginning.
He urgently set the drastic reduction of the occupation troops with the achievement of an agreement. He also put forth for discussion the issue of their full withdrawal, given that in two years they would have been reduced to 650 Turkish and 950 Greek soldiers.
He also insisted on the return of Morphou and other territories under Greek Cypriot administration. At the same time, he put the issue of property, the rotating Presidency, the effective participation of Turkish Cypriots in governance and the equal treatment of Turkish citizens up for discussion.
Unfortunately, at the July 6th working dinner, we didn’t take advantage of the UN Secretary-General’s thoughts to corner Turkey. If we did so, Turkey will either have been obliged to accept the abolition of the guarantees and rights of intervention or it would have been exposed. Unfortunately, neither one nor the other happened.
The day after finds us in a very difficult position. The possibility of a solution has receded. It doesn’t seem that negotiations will resume soon. The danger for the finalization of partition is today more visible than ever before. Unfortunately, instead of reflecting on these developments, Mr. Anastasiades is planning his pre-election campaign.
Instead of giving an answer as to why he didn’t discuss the document regarding the implementation that replaced the Treaty of Guarantee and which was put before him at the working dinner on July 6th, he is invoking the “tension” of that moment and accusing us of seeking concessions because we pose self-evident questions.
Instead of taking sincere and specific initiatives to resume the negotiations and prevent the new fait accompli the Turkish side is attempting to promote, he is going to the podium of the UN General Assembly to address its own voters in Cyprus. He says he is ready to resume talks, but at the same time he sets conditions that do not convince the UN to undertake any new initiative. He talks about Confidence Building measures and takes us back to the era of the policy of “protaxis” (Note: the policy of setting “preconditions” that predetermine the results of negotiations)..
Meanwhile, the clock of the Cyprus problem is ticking against us. The Turkish side’s announcements are likely to deepen occupational fait accompli, while the danger of the absorption of the Turkish Cypriot community is growing.
For decades, Turkey has consistently been promoting policies that are reinforcing the Turkish Cypriot community’s dependence on Ankara and weakening it. It promoted the economic incorporation of the occupied territories by financing, inter alia, the construction and tourism sector. It seeks a resolute intervention in the occupied areas and is attempting to cultivate religion as a means of exercising greater control over society.
The resistance and wider social opposition of the Turkish Cypriots against Ankara’s numerous aggressive actions exist. But no one can guarantee their effectiveness, given the balance of forces between a small community and Turkey.
Instead of Mr. Anastasiades and DISY turning their attention to these worrying developments, they are focusing their attacks on AKEL. They are saying that the Party’s criticism gives a pretext the Turkish side. Unfortunately, it is their own handlings that are giving pretexts to the Turkish side to promote undisturbed its goal of partition. AKEL is ready, they are suggesting, to accept unacceptable concessions and “just any solution”. We urge them to say when and where AKEL’s positions have deviated even one iota from UN resolutions, the High-Level Agreements, International and European law.
We are not criticizing Mr. Anastasiades’ handlings because we are ready to accept anything, but because we will never accept the nightmare of partition. We are not criticizing him for accepting, supposedly guarantee rights and rights of intervention, but because the President missed the opportunity either to abolish them from day one or to expose Turkey.
As we approach the presidential elections we can’t exclude the possibility of Mr. Anastasiades talking to us about a “new strategy”. The fact is that as time goes by, he is fully adopting the arguments of Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Lillikas, who are speaking all day long about the need for a “new strategy”.
We really wonder: where is this “new strategy”?
It is the same strategy the late Mr. Clerides was saying he would pursue in 1993 by “burying” the Ghali Set of Ideas.
It’s the same strategy he was saying he would implement with the theory of the so-called “active volcano” on the Cyprus problem in 1998.
The late Mr. Tasos Papadopoulos also supported the same strategy after 2006. Mr. Anastasiades pursued the same strategy in 2013 too.
What was the result each time this strategy was followed? It has resulted in a stalemate that favoured the Turkish side. Each time the Greek Cypriot side suffered losses, while the Turkish side was winning.
Let’s look at the other side of the barbed wire of division.
Who are the circles and forces talking about the need to pursue a “new strategy” and about the need to abandon the federal model? It is the party of the settlers.
Who are the circles and forces on the Greek Cypriot side proposing a “new strategy”? It is the election campaign teams of Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Lillikas. In the end, what do they mean when they refer to a “new strategy”? What is this “strategy”? They still haven’t presented it to us.
Mr. Nicolas Papadopoulos and DIKO say they want a bi-communal, bizonal federation with the correct content.
Socialist Party EDEK has officially abandoned it. The “Solidarity Movement” is seeking a unitary state.
How can all these positions be compatible? How can they agree on a uniform strategy when the goal is different?
Everyone can understand that this alliance has not been forged for Cyprus, but just to win the presidential chair.
Mr. Papadopoulos’s whole approach is condensed into a three-pillar narrative: sloganeering, scaremongering and nihilism. It would be interesting if at some stage he abandoned the slogans and nihilism and answered questions on the very substance. Does he adopt a bizonal, bicommunal federal solution as it was reconfirmed by the late Tasos Papadopoulos with the 8th July Agreement? Does he insist on talking about the supposedly unacceptable proposal of a rotating Presidency, in contrast to the late Tasos Papadopoulos who stated at the National Council addressing Demetris Christofias word for word: “”Let me say, without trying to patronize, your own proposal is an improvement…it is better than what had been proposed before..”.
What is at stake in the upcoming presidential elections is critical, first and foremost as regards the solution of the Cyprus problem. We must all understand before it is too late that the “Turkification” of Cyprus will not come about with the solution as certain circles and forces persist in saying.
Cyprus is being “Turkified” so long as the occupation continues.
Cyprus is being “Turkified” because inside Cyprus there is a regime which is rampantly arming itself, maintaining thousands of troops in our country, indiscriminately granting citizenships (to settlers) and colonalizing Cyprus from 1974 till today.
The occupation is therefore a permanent threat to both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. We cannot put the race for the presidential chair over and above the future of our homeland
Only with a solution of the Cyprus problem can Cyprus have a future; only by reversing the fait accompli created by the Turkish occupation. The solution must be accepted by both communities, and lead to a lasting and viable peace; to create conditions of security and stability for the whole of the Cypriot people. The solution will reunite the island on the basis of the agreed framework and create conditions for progress and growth; conditions of prosperity for all. That is and must remain the common goal of the struggle of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
We steadfastly insist on the strategy and framework of the solution that has been agreed since 1977, on the framework included in all decisions of the UN and other international organizations. It is the framework which has been supported by all the successive Presidents of the Republic of Cyprus. For a solution that will reunite the territory, the people, the institutions and the economy; a bi-communal, bizonal federal solution with political equality as described in the United Nations texts; a solution that will lead to a united state, which will be a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus, a single state with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship.
Almost six decades after the proclamation of Cyprus independence, it seems to us that there is a great need to study History again in order to learn from the mistakes committed; to draw conclusions and see what we need to do. At such a critical point for our country, the thoughts of a man who studied as few others have the contemporary history of Cyprus come to mind – the words of the late historian Rolandos Katsiaounis.
“The invasion of July 20th 1974 is, for me, the most dramatic and painful phase of a problem that existed before that date. I consider it basically a problem of imperialist intervention, where the Anglo-Americans, their domestic tools and organs, that is to say the extremist groups I described and their descendants, Ankara and the Greek Junta, all of them together conspired and attacked the Republic of Cyprus to dissolve and destroy it. Here is the responsibility of the Greek Cypriots, but not of the community as a whole. The Left itself was the victim of these extremist groups. The Left fought to protect the Republic of Cyprus while considering the Turkish Cypriots as its eligible citizens. Responsibilities do exist, but they are not collective. These responsibilities lie with those who are shouting together with their political ancestors that the history they themselves have invented will change. The mentality of these people has been and remains that Cyprus is Greek and that the Turkish Cypriots are intruders. This position is incorrect. Cyprus is a common homeland, it does not belong only to the Greek Cypriot community, even if it is the majority. Cyprus belongs to its people, and this people is made up of various national communities. This people must find its inner peace and decide its future.”
We must therefore decide about our future.
We alone should decide about our future.
We must decide about the day after, about how we want to see the future of Cyprus to be.
We must decide about the future of peace, progress and our country’s prosperity.
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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