Speech by Neoklis Sylikiotis, member of the Political Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL, at the 6th Congress of the Party of the European Left
13-15th December 2019, Malaga, Spain
The 6th Congress of the Party of the European Left is convening at a time when the world is truly in turmoil, full of contradictions, conflicts and competitions. Not only has capitalism not overcome the crisis, but, as it always does, it prepares the next one. This means that a new attack on the peoples is imminent with the imposition of anti-worker measures, attacks on social gains, greater destruction of nature and the planet. All of our era’s major problems are rooted in the system itself, due to the pursuit of profit. Climate change, wars, the nuclear nightmare and the monster of fascism are products of a capitalist system that when put together, or each of them separately, can lead to the destruction of human civilization.
US strategy seeks to defend their dominance over other emerging centres of the world and, in particular, China, leading to a new phase of US imperialist aggression.
The EU, on its part, has been relentlessly pursuing its path of militarization and alignment/coupling with NATO, focusing on the creation of military structures and promoting investment in the arms war industry, while it’s most powerful member states play a leading role in the sale of arms to authoritarian regimes and warring states.
All these tendencies and contradictions are identified in a condensed and concentrated way in the Eastern Mediterranean as well, which is one of the most militarized areas of the world today. The importance of the Eastern Mediterranean is also determined by the fact that it has always been a key link in global maritime trade and in the transport of oil. Now, however, the discovery of significant hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean has made the situation literally explosive.
All of these trends are identified coherently in an explosive mixture right here in this volatile neighborhood of the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider Middle East.
It is in these conditions that the struggle of the Cypriot people is being waged today to solve the 45 year old Cyprus Problem which is a problem of invasion, occupation and the colonization of 37% of our island’s territory by Turkey; a problem of the division of Cyprus and its people. However, the situation has deteriorated dramatically lately, as the Erdogan government, exploiting the absence of a negotiating procedure on the Cyprus problem after the collapse of the Crans Montana conference in 2017, has escalated its aggression against Cyprus with illegal drillings within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus. Also the illegal Turkey-Libya agreement on delimitation of the EEZ violates international law and disregards the sovereign rights of neighboring countries such as Greece and Egypt.
AKEL is waging the struggle in these dangerous conditions against the dangerous path that developments have taken and against the growth of nationalism. We insist that the only way forward is the solution of the Cyprus problem by putting an end to the occupation and reuniting the island.
This is the only way to vindicate our homeland and reverse the imperialist crime committed in 1974 against Cyprus.
This is the only way Cyprus’ natural wealth can be safeguarded to the benefit of all the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, given that talks between the two communities have found mutually beneficial solutions to these issues.
This is the reason why the meeting between the leaders of the two communities with the UN Secretary General in Berlin last month raises hopes for a resumption of substantive negotiations on the Cyprus problem, on the basis of the UN Secretary General’s Framework, which, among other things, provides for the abolition of guarantees and intervention rights and the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation army from the island. It also provides for a solution to the internal aspect of the Cyprus problem on the basis of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality between the two communities as outlined in the UN Resolutions.
The course of the Cyprus problem is not unrelated to what is happening with regards the Republic of Cyprus’ energy programme. AKEL is the only force on the island that opposed the strategy of the right-wing Anastasiades conservative government in Cyprus, which cultivated the illusion that the US and Israel or the involvement of energy multinational companies in the Cyprus EEZ would provide protection from Turkey for Cyprus to proceed with its energy plans.
In line with this outlook, the government has completely reoriented Cyprus’ foreign policy. It proclaimed the island as an “advanced outpost of the West” and a “shield of Israel”, promoting military cooperation with Israel, the US and other NATO forces.
AKEL believes this policy is dangerous, violates principles and is based on illusions. The insecurity that Greek Cypriots justifiably feel because of Turkish aggression will not be resolved by more militarization of the island, by blind trust in the US-Israel or, let alone, by Cyprus’ accession to NATO. Similarly, the security of Turkish Cypriots cannot be sought in Turkey’s army and guarantee rights.
Peace is our security. And for Cyprus, peace means first and foremost the liberation and reunification of its people, the demilitarization of the island, getting rid of foreign armies and “protectors”. It means that Cyprus must be a bridge of peace for the peoples of the region and not an arena for holding foreign military exercises and a launching pad for waging raids and attacks.
Finally, I would like to thank you all for the solidarity with our struggle to achieve these goals.
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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