Speech by the General Secretary of AKEL A. Kyprianou at the presentation of the candidate MEP’s to the Turkish Cypriot community
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 15 February 2019, Nicosia
Thank you very much for your presence here.
We will wage the big battle of the European elections together, as a symbolic continuation of the political battles we have waged in the past; as a promise for the battles we will wage together in the future for our common homeland, for our common goals.
The belief that exists in the majority of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot community that what is going on in Europe doesn’t concern us is completely wrong. This is the first thing we have to understand and about which we have to convince the people of.
Everything that is happening in Europe concerns us. That is why our voice must be heard loud there.
In these elections we must strengthen the forces demanding that things change.
Both in Europe and Cyprus.
Growth rates are slowing down.
Social reactions are getting stronger.
Inequalities have assumed explosive dimensions.
The purchasing power of households is collapsing.
Poverty threatens to marginalize even bigger sections of the population.
Labour relations are being systematically deregulated.
Social rights are being curbed on a mass scale.
Individual freedoms are shrinking.
Democracy itself is increasingly plunging into an unprecedented crisis.
Racism and xenophobia are on the rise in general.
Fascism is reviving after its defeat in the Second World War.
Everything that is taking place on a local level is nothing but a small-scale version of what is occurring at an all-European level. For that reason, it concerns us more than we think.
All of these negative developments in Europe have enabled the ultra-right and neo-fascism to raise their heads, both in Europe and in Cyprus too.
Demagogy and the supposed “anti-systemic” image are their biggest weapon. Thuggery, xenophobia, racism, populism, hatred and violence against the weak – that’s their real face.
Will we allow them to destroy our country?
Will we let them put an end to what remains of the European acquis and the welfare state?
Will we allow them to dismantle democracy, dissolve universal principles and values?
No we won’t.
We must unite our forces with those who understand the dead-end to which Europe is being driven. We must join forces to build the future of Europe on the solidarity of its peoples and the gains of its working people.
We want a Europe that serves the interests of the many.
A Europe that defends the interests of the people of labour and young people; that holds the flag of peace and the idea of democracy high; that protects the environment, defends human rights and promotes social justice.
This is our path.
The Group of the Left in the European Parliament, of which we are a member, is the force that leads the way in proposing, struggling and asserting in practice our vision for Europe.
The European United Left/Nordic Green Left is working tirelessly to promote proposals aimed at protecting the weak and safeguarding political, social and labour rights.
It is asserting for workers, women, farmers, for young people who feel that today’s social and economic situation is killing their dreams.
It works consistently to promote and implement a correct and comprehensive policy on the key issues of our time: the refugee issue, the environment and the respect for human rights. The European United Left/Nordic Green Left is the force that stands on the side of the Cypriot people with consistency, supporting Cyprus’ cause on the basis of principles.
AKEL is seeking to have a strong representation in the Group of the Left in the European Parliament and that’s why it is participating in the European elections with a credible and strong ballot. Renewal and experience are combined with enthusiasm, knowledge with dynamism on our ballot, which is composed of people who can worthily represent us in the European Parliament: Yiorgos Georgiou, Athos Georgiou, Niyazi Kızılyürek, Yiorgos Koukoumas, Marina Nicolaou and Neoklis Sylikiotis.
When we announced our ballot, we knew that there would be a lot of discussion about the fact that a Turkish Cypriot is on our ballot too. Indeed, there has been a lot of debate especially in social media. For us it is quite normal, given our positions, approaches and long-standing relationship with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots. Besides, we stressed from the very beginning that this is not a communal candidacy.
The fanaticism, hatred and rage against AKEL because we were bold enough to take this step isn’t surprising at all. These are reactions that have always been manifested against anyone who ventured to speak of a common homeland, united and independent, of a united and sovereign people.
Nationalism in the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities have always struggled to abolish whatever united Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Nationalism in both communities, serving colonialism and imperialism, was always trying to kill the idea of an independent homeland.
Nationalism was systematically fostering division.
Before the territorial division, which is the result of its own actions, nationalism methodically cultivated ideological and political division.
Every attempt to forge joint political programs of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots came under vicious attacks. A prime example is the violence exerted during the 1950’s against Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot militants and members of AKEL and other Left people. It is the price in blood nationalism demanded be paid for the “traitors” who dared propose the waging of a common struggle and common visions.
Therefore, the presence of a Turkish Cypriot on the AKEL ballot is not some token presence. It reflects the bicommunal character of AKEL’s ballot, the continuity of our struggles to at long last overcome the ideological and political partition that they have been trying to impose on us for decades. AKEL’s ballot is the symbolic decision for the voice of all Cypriots to be heard, their anxiety and aspirations for a reunited Cyprus in a different Europe.
Nationalism must be combated politically, openly and decisively. We have already stated that any political cost will not prevent us from asserting the future of our people, the reunification of our country. We have a vision for the Cyprus of tomorrow, to which we gave a practical form with the submission of specific positions and concrete proposals that were tabled at the negotiating table; proposals that centred on the abolition of ethnic conflict, the forging of unity on an ideological and political basis. This effort made during the five-year term of the Christofias administration, the consistency shown to our positions, on the basis of which we subsequently acted, the initiatives we undertook which united Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots again in numerous struggles, both small and big, and the bi-communal ballot we present before the people today, do not express anything other than the anxiety of the people of this country for a life in peace, security and prosperity. We are not going to betray this vision by surrendering Cyprus as fodder to nationalism and partitionist plans.
AKEL’s bicommunal ballot is the conscious devotion to the political line for the unity of the people, the defense of the independence of our homeland.
It is the constant effort for the idea to be acknowledged that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can and must rule Cyprus together in conditions of equality.
It is the constant reminder to all those who find it difficult to understand the importance of political equality, all the more so to accept the idea.
From the time of the enclaves to the TMT’s cold-blooded policy and Ankara’s suffocating policies, the protection of the Turkish Cypriots as a Cypriot community, politically identified and in equality with the Greek Cypriots has been the long-standing demand of the Turkish Cypriots, who are fighting for peace and reunification. It is a finding that stems from the blood-stained history of our people, which AKEL has no problem whatsoever in admitting and defending.
Our vision for Cyprus goes much further than the presence of a Turkish Cypriot candidate on our ballot without of course this meaning that it is an easy job. On the contrary, it is an initiative that generates many risks and a lot of suspicion. Let’s therefore be very clear. No, the bi-communal ballot isn’t a model for the solution of the Cyprus problem. It doesn’t seek to replace the Turkish Cypriot community, nor to mislead the Turkish Cypriots. As Niyazi himself has noted many times recently, his candidacy doesn’t have a communal orientation, nor is there an attempt to represent the community “without the community”.
This initiative is a very clear answer to all this challenging which is year after year growing and is putting at the centre of the debate all the talk about “new solutions”, the erroneous finding that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots “neither want, nor can” live together to jointly build their common future. To go one step further, it also represents an initiative of political solidarity with the struggle of the progressive Turkish Cypriots against Ankara’s suffocating grip.
AKEL’s bicommunal ballot is a powerful reply to all those who are today content with the division and tomorrow with the partition of Cyprus just because that’s how their own interests are served better. AKEL’s bicommunal ballot is a political act that proves that we can overcome the division; that we can cooperate politically with political programs and positions. AKEL’s bicommunal ballot is the historical moment that will prove that there can be a cross-weighted vote not only because of the common past, but also in the name of our common future. It is the moment when everyone’s consciousness will conclude that it’s worth voting for each other as Cypriots, not as “extensions” of others, nor as “remnants” of conflicts.
As AKEL, we say and repeat it because we deeply believe in it. Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will only be able to look on the future if it is ensured that they will live this future together within the framework of a solution that will end the occupation and colonialization.
A solution that will restore the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of the Republic of Cyprus.
A solution based on the United Nations resolutions, High-Level Agreements, International and European Law.
A solution that will demilitarize Cyprus and exclude any guarantees or intervention rights in the internal affairs of the country by any foreign powers.
A solution that will reunite the land, the people, the institutions and the economy within the framework of a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality as described in the United Nations.
In our view, federation is not a pedestal of Greek Cypriot power, but an arena of creative cooperation of equal partners and compatriots within the framework of a reunited state with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality, where it will be safeguarded that the two communities coexist and work together in a united and independent homeland. This, of course, does not mean that the historical relations of the two communities with Greece and Turkey are deleted. It does however mean that our people, all Cypriots, can manage their affairs and lives without any guardians; that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will now be emancipated and be able to work together for their common future.
Consequently, our decision for our ballot to be bicommunal in the upcoming European elections is a political act that wants to send out the message that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can share power and represent their common homeland together. We therefore have a very important political battle to wage whose result will convey numerous messages.
Let’s join our hands over the barbed wire of division and let’s become what we are waiting for.
The voice that struggles and wins for the Cyprus we love and for the Cyprus we dream of.
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