Speech by General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL A.Kyprianou at the political memorial event Demetris Christofias
Sunday 21st June 2020, Lakatamia Municipality Amphitheatre
“Mr. Christofias, have you said your last word?” a journalist asked him a few years ago.
“I will say my last word when I pass away”, he replied.
And he did just that. The crowd of people that accompanied Demetris Christofias to his final resting place was overwhelming. It saluted him with tears in their eyes. Real tears. Genuine love. A rare honor for a public figure.
That was his last word. His final reply to the attacks he was coming under for years. It was the reminder to both friends and foes that he struggled for a whole lifetime with the people, for the people. That he was a man who devoted his entire life to the struggles of the working people, a political figure who came from them, who never thought of pretending to be or behaving like anything else. He was and remains from the beginning to the end, Demetris.
Demetris Christofias was everything that some politicians are trying to present themselves as today, following the instructions of their communication specialists and image makers. He was simple, modest, honest, genuine, sincere, dignified, embodied with integrity, dynamic and sensitive. A man for whom there were no shadows. He was what you saw, with his gifts and flaws. He wasn’t trying to hide, nor was he pretending to be anything other than what he was.
Christofias honored the trust shown to him by AKEL and the working people in the best possible way. He knew who he represented and vindicated the working people, because he acted all through his political life with clean hands. He now stands as an example in contrast to the opposite-examples of politicians who are captive to interests, who say one thing in public and say something else behind the scenes, who are even proud of their ability to engage in intrigues and who govern behind closed doors.
Above all, Demetris Christofias believed and made others believe as well. He believed in the historic mission of the Party of the Working People and its strengths. He believed in the prospect of Cyprus being reunited and in the prospect of its people building a common future together, a different future than the one those who wanted to shackle it had reserved for it.
That is precisely why, together with the other comrades of his generation, they took on the weight of responsibility on their backs to keep AKEL standing upright and strong during the years of the dissolution of the Soviet Union so that AKEL would remain a leading force in the social and political development of the country, to fight and win social, labour and political rights. To bring renewal, to make political and cultural action a cause for the many, to reaffirm its historic legacy and chart the path for the future.
“We managed to do so because our hearts are burning with ideals and values that put people above everything else…We succeeded because we stood on the side of the poor, the working man and woman, the clerk and the teacher. We stood by them as fellow fighters and comrades, never as arrogant preachers from a pedestal”, he stated from the podium of the Party Congress.
This is absolutely true. He himself and the collective leadership of AKEL during difficult times opened the doors of AKEL to society, strengthening its identity as a social and political force that represents the majority of society, which serves the needs and expresses the aspirations of the many. To win this challenge, Demetris Christofias gave his all, without any calculations. He surpassed himself and the health problems that often plagued him. His personal example taught us to work day and night.
Together with the rest of his comrades in AKEL, he opened up new avenues, setting the example of constant renewal. In this sense, he indeed honored the history he wrote as the youngest leader of a Communist Party across Europe. The development of inter-party democracy, the multifaceted and multilevel activity of the mass Organisations of the Left and his presence and contribution to the political, social and cultural affairs of the country in a pioneering and radical way all bear the stamp of the twenty-year presence of Demetris Christofias in the leadership of AKEL..
His term in the Presidency of the House of Representatives upgraded parliamentary diplomacy to new levels. The institutional role of Parliament was upgraded, but also its daily political operation. Democracy took steps forward in our country.
His tenure in the Presidency of the Republic coincided with the huge economic crisis that broke out globally. The tackling of the crisis and its consequences were the spearhead of a fierce campaign that the then opposition waged against him. The other spearhead of this campaign were the developments surrounding the Cyprus problem. The unprecedented for the political affairs of Cyprus attacks that were launched against him and therefore also on what AKEL represented, were first and foremost ideological. These attacks were about strategically important questions: Who should pay for the consequences of the economic crisis? What should be our patriotic choice on the Cyprus problem: a divided a state but one purely Greek or a whole state and bi-communal?
Well-intentioned people cannot but identify in the Christofias administration as regards the Cyprus problem characteristic features. During the Christofias government, unifying proposals were submitted on numerous aspects for the solution of the Cyprus problem; proposals that gave a perspective to the coexistence of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in their common home: the Republic of Cyprus. For the first time, this vision took practical form through the elaboration and submission of specific political positions and proposals, which have been and are being vindicated by life itself.
During the Christofias administration, it became possible during the difficult times for the economy, to open another window of perspective: that of energy. The pursuit to render energy as a factor of peace for the country and prosperity for the people was shielded by the policy that was being pursued at the time. In addition, in times of economic crisis, a line of resistance and protection was erected for the benefit of working people and the vulnerable groups of the population.
During the Christofias’ administration, the people heard the truth. The people had someone who was speaking to them honestly and sincerely about how the country could be reunited, about how a different Cyprus could be built given the energy wealth as an advantage, about how another model could be pursued that would protect those most in need. At the same time, significant radical changes and reforms were promoted in labour relations, education, local government, social policy, the water issue, the environment and much more.
The attack on him was personal, but at the same time profoundly political. Our ideological opponents believed that they could force AKEL into a corner and isolate it. They sought to denigrate and depreciate it. They did not succeed, nor are they going to succeed because AKEL was and remains the root of the worker and the farmer. It was and remains the serious and consistent political force that cares for both the country and the common people. It was and remains that force tirelessly waging the battle for the salvation of Cyprus.
The best honor to the memory of Demetris Christofias is the selfless work of us all to strengthen AKEL and the path to another Cyprus, to another society, for peace, justice, socialism.
To strengthen AKEL so that it stands in the political life of the country as a united and politically, organizationally and ideologically strong Party. A Party that will have a comprehensive political proposal on the small and big issues that concern the country. A Party with a consistent presence both inside, but also outside the Houses of Representatives, wherever struggles are being waged for political, labour, social and human rights.
Demetris Christofias was acknowledged as a political figure of the international movement and Cyprus, but at the same time as a political figure who lived not next to or above the people, but with them. That is precisely why from the United Nations, Brussels, Moscow, England, France, Greece to the Local Clubs of the People’s Movement of the Left in Cyprus, the theatres, the factories, the cafes, the refugee settlements, the poor neighborhoods, everyone was asking about Demetris. Everyone today remembers Demetris as he deserves to be remembered. First and foremost as a human being and then as a leader who struggled all his life for his homeland, for the world, for the people, for the peoples.
That was his last word. This is also the vindication of his services by those who really needed it; the common humble people, those who he struggled with, suffered with and fought with.
May his memory live on forever!
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