Press Conference by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL Andros Kyprianou
Press Conference by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL Andros Kyprianou
3rd December 2019, Journalists’ House Nicosia
I would like to welcome you all to our press conference today. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to address the people of Cyprus through you. Special thanks to the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation for allowing us to convey our positions directly to Cypriot society.
The existing situation in our country is sadly unacceptable. Every day the majority of society is being driven into frustration, insecurity, uncertainty and pessimism.
Despite what Mr. Anastasiades had promised during the presidential campaign, his handling of the Cyprus problem, what he chose to do, but also what he decided not to do, have created a very dangerous situation. Turkey’s provocative actions and aggression are intensifying. The international community’s reaction to this escalation of Turkish intolerance is still verbal.
The Cyprus problem has been led to a dangerous deadlock
Regrettably, the Cyprus problem has been led to a dangerous deadlock. Cyprus is being threatened directly by Turkey. These are the results of Mr. Anastasiades’ policy; a policy characterized by a lack of consistency and strategic purpose, as well as by regressions, contradictions and tactical games and maneuvers.
At the same time as Turkey was escalating its aggression, Mr. Anastasiades’ statements which were questioning the convergences achieved, with the unproductive confrontation surrounding the 4th July framework and supposedly “new ideas”, were letting Turkey off the hook without any cost and wasting time. Time is running out. If we aren’t serious in our actions, if we aren’t consistent in our strategic objective, we shall definitely miss the opportunity to solve the Cyprus problem within the agreed framework – unless that is precisely what certain circles and forces want.
At the recent meeting in Berlin, the goal of the solution was reaffirmed before the UN Secretary-General as Bi-zonal, Bi-communal Federation. It was also clarified that the basis on which the talks would be conducted, that is to say the terms of reference, will consist of the Joint Declaration of 11th February 2014, the convergences that have been recorded so far and the UN Secretary-General’s Framework of 30th June 2017.
All of these developments are positive. At the same time this also is the best answer to those who were flirting with other ideas and paths, including Mr. Anastasiades himself. The fact that it wasn’t possible to reach an agreement on the terms of reference is worrying. Furthermore, the fact that any resumption of negotiations, which is seen as taking place after the “elections” in the Turkish Cypriot community, is worrying too. Of particular significance is the position expressed by the UN Secretary General, reiterated once again, that the two leaders must prepare society for the need to resolve the Cyprus problem. Their willingness to do so will also become apparent by their political will to work for a solution.
The two leaders must act with consistency and determination
Two and a half precious years have been wasted since Crans Montana to date. From now on, the two leaders must act with consistency and determination. They should take initiatives and address the people with sincerity. The people are tired of being disappointed, and are despaired waiting.
The logical question that arises is: how do we go to talks when Turkey is escalating its aggressive actions? Our position is clear. When and provided that meaningful negotiations begin, Turkey must put an end to its provocative actions. Otherwise, it will be taking on all the responsibilities for what will follow.
Many people are wondering, “How will we discuss a solution of the Cyprus problem with this aggressive Turkey”? It is precisely Turkey’s aggressive actions that are creating geopolitical uncertainty, posing a direct threat to the prospect of the survival, both physical and economic, of our country and people. This is what we must reflect on: Do we give up and hand over our homeland to Turkey or do we struggle with all the diplomatic means at our disposal to save it? We mustn’t forget that all of these dangers that exist in the Eastern Mediterranean for a wider conflict are what is driving the international community to be interested in a solution of the Cyprus problem.
Mr. Anastasiades and the governing DISY party, but also those circles and forces who turn a blind eye to developments must now even belatedly understand the critical nature of the situation. They should work with continuity and consistency, with determination and a clear mind for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
They must, with a similar sense of responsibility, at long last be interested in the majority of society suffering from their handling of internal governance issues as well.
The myth fabricated about the supposed economic ‘success story’ collapsed with the sell-off of the Cooperative Bank
The myth they have propagated about the supposed economic “success story” collapsed with the sell-off of the Cyprus Cooperative Bank. The slogans they used to get re-elected were shattered – slogans that were saying that they were addressing the economy’s problems, that they supposedly could and do know how to solve them.
The reality is very different.
The economy is indeed growing, but society continues to be uncertain and insecure about the future.
Jobs are indeed increasing, but working people are trapped by their wages and incomes which have remained stagnant. They cannot plan their future with security and a certainty.
Whereas foreign investments are on the rise, small and medium-sized businesses and the self-employed are struggling to make ends meet.
Increasing rents, rising property prices, low incomes and the absence of a comprehensive government housing policy have made having a roof over one’s head a privilege, rather than a right for all.
Prices have soared as wages have fallen sharply. This doesn’t concern the Government.
Private debts and non-performance loans, one of the Cyprus economy’s main problems, continue to burden both households and small and medium size businesses.
The Government projects the reduction in the number of non-performance loans as a success. In fact, the most significant reduction registered is the result of banks merely moving these bad assets off their books by selling them to third parties. This does not at all lessen the burden on households and small and medium-sized enterprises. At the same time, despite all the declarations, neither could the ‘ESTIA’ debt relief scheme ultimately constitute a viable alternative for borrowers.
The truth is that the Anastasiades-DISY administration didn’t save the Cyprus economy. On the contrary, it put it in a vulnerable position, not only because it imposed the haircut on bank deposits and closed down two banks; not only because it pursues a dangerous and irresponsible policy. It has built an economy based on a “get rich quick” philosophy that marginalizes and plunges the vulnerable groups of the population and creative forces of production into despair.
It’s not just the poor who are getting poorer because of the Anastasiades-DISY government’s speculative policy. It is the entire productive model of Cyprus that is being distorted, and the human resources depreciated.
Into whose pockets are the revenues from growth going to?
Into whose pockets are the revenues from the growth registered going? Who will benefit from this growth? Is this growth guarantying sustainable growth and environmental protection to support the real economy? Is this growth that promotes research and innovation? Is this growth aiming to tackle numerous social problems?
Of course not.
It does not even go pass their minds that some of the surpluses they are boasting of could be used to help the lower income popular strata of society and to boost their purchasing power and by doing so demand as well.
The construction boom owing to the citizenship-by-investment scheme has all the hallmarks of another ‘bubble’ if no precautionary measures are taken.
Seven years after Mr. Anastasiades and DISY assumed power, social inequality is growing due to the class policy it is pursuing.
According to a recent survey released by the European Statistical Office, young people in our country, although working, are at risk of poverty because of low wages. For the first time in Cyprus we have the phenomenon of working poor.
As for social policy, they took from the poor in order to give to the poor.
What did they achieve?
Almost a third of Cypriots live on or below the poverty line.
Unfortunately, we aren’t dealing with a government that is just socially insensitive. We are dealing with an irresponsible, incompetent and dangerous government. I’m sorry to say that. I’m not saying it out of any opposition anger. I say it with a sense of patriotic sadness about what the situation in our country is and where things are going.
The tragic incident of the death of the 15 year old has rekindled the debate on the need to reorganize the social welfare services. But even in this sensitive area, which literally has to do with human lives, they (the Anastasiades-DISY government) intend to hand it over to the private sector, to maintain a state with an executive role and to buy services from private interests. Even here, they want to be mere mediators.
They want to be a government that doesn’t govern, but simply settles obligations and serves interests.
As AKEL we have submitted our proposals on how Social Welfare Services should be restructured with social sensitivity and supported and not dismantled.
Everything that has been disclosed about the spy van affair is revealing about the Anastasiades-DISY administration’s chaos. The President is wondering whether he is under surveillance, while the DISY President asks who is following whom.
They are playing games with everything and mocking everyone.
Just nine months ago we watched in shock all the corpses being pulled out of lakes and wells due to their irresponsibility and institutional racism. We were embarrassed in their position when, as a state, they apologized to the families of the victims, “even though they were foreign women” as the President had stated.
Now with the spy van affair, they have once again left society speechless with their inability or indifference to protect the people’s elementary rights.
They are irresponsible, so dangerous too. And it isn’t just the spy van case. They were telling us that they had shielded the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and then we woke up one day and saw the Turkish exploratory vessel ‘Fatih’ roaming off the coast of Paphos.
Last but not least, is the only record the Anastasiades-DISY Government managed to achieve.
Record in corruption
The World Bank Report is quite clear: “Cyprus has recorded the highest increase in corruption levels across the EU in the five years 2013 to 2018”.
It is not just the millions of Euros of the family circle that were transferred abroad before the haircut on bank deposits, the citizenships granted to wanted individuals and dictators, the ‘lost’ contract of the former Central Bank Governor, the scandal starring the former Deputy Attorney General Rikkos Erotokritou, the unacceptable favours towards the Archbishop, the appointments and promotions which very curiously only the “blue cronies” are judged to be worthy of. It is also the presidential pardons granted to pedophiles, the army of “advisors” hired at the Presidential Palace, the illegal developments, the illicit enrichment of cronies, the sharp rise in crime, the institutional racism that has claimed human lives, the undermining of institutions and so much more.
In our daily contact with the people we can sense the people’s frustration and indignation. This applies to the majority of the people, not just the people of the Left.
The overwhelming majority of society, regardless of political affiliation, can no longer stand the situation.
It can’t take the insecurity and anxiety of the dangers generated by the non-solution of the Cyprus problem.
It can’t take the anxiety of how to make ends meet every month on a meagre wage.
It can’t take the odious smell of scandals, corruption and interwoven interests.
It can no longer stand seeing the country on a dead-end path.
Facing such a Government that has proven to be untrustworthy, that hasn’t any plans to tackle problems, that doesn’t demonstrate social sensitivity and that isn’t consistent, there is only one way out.
The way out is through the cooperation of all the forces of society seeking another Cyprus that will inspire them.
Proposal for the reunification of our homeland and reconstruction of society
With a political proposal aimed at the reunification of our homeland, the reconstruction of society and the economy. We want to begin elaborating this proposal together with those forces that have a vision for another Cyprus. For reunification, social solidarity, the environment, culture, human rights. For alternative proposals laying the foundations for a different future for us all, our children and grandchildren.
Our goal is to manage to formulate this proposal together with the majority of society so that we can bring it to the forefront during the debate at the upcoming regular AKEL Pancyprian Congress due to convene in June 2020.
I would like to conclude by making one more thing clear. AKEL is approaching its 100th anniversary. It is one of the organizations with the longest history in this country. In so many years of its existence we have never refused to make our own contribution to the general good, to the benefit of our homeland, regardless of who happened to be in power. This is true and that’s what we shall do today too. However, under no circumstances should the government ruling forces count on our tolerance. Our tolerance has been exhausted and everyone has to take on their responsibilities, starting with revealing all the truth about the spy van case and the exemplary punishment for the abuses in citizenship-by-investment scheme.
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