Theses of the C.C. of AKEL for the 20th Congress
1. From the 19th to the 20th Congress
Five years have already elapsed since the 19th Congress of AKEL. A five year period rich in important events for the country, in the formation of which the intervention of our party was decisive. During this period it has once again been reaffirmed that AKEL represents that great political and social force, which the people can trust and aspire to in realising their expectations and visions for a better future. It has reaffirmed our Party as a patriotic and internationalist force, as a force of renewal and modernisation, a force of struggle, responsibility, campaigning militancy and creation. A force that inspires steadfastness and that is in a position to lead great struggles for Cyprus, its people and the ordinary man and woman of daily toil.
In the past five years AKEL and the wider Popular Movement of the Left have continued the struggle for justice for Cyprus, for the defence and extension of working people’s rights and more widely of the popular strata. We waged a series of successful political struggles together with other political forces, the culmination being the Presidential elections of 2003, as a result of which it was possible to relieve the country from the right-wing Rally party government and so opening up perspectives for a different, pro-popular administration. Our successes in the parliamentary and local administration elections were of no less importance.
Currently AKEL through the General Secretary of the C.C. of the Party holds the post of the President of the House of Representatives and is taking part in the governing of the country with ministers who are also party cadres. It has an increased participation and intervention in the board of governors of public utility services, which constitute a part of the system of power.
The past five years have been highlighted by the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem on the basis of the Annan plan. We have conducted difficult struggles in order to achieve a solution as soon as possible, which will liberate Cyprus from occupation and reunite our people and country. We were greatly disappointed because we were deprived of the possibility to achieve this aim. We were called upon to take important decisions in difficult conditions and situations. We went through torturous days of deliberations concerning the future of Cyprus. We took decisions which were difficult and painful but which also proved to be as each day passes by the most correct ones. Decisions and policies were taken, which kept alive the perspective of solving as soon as possible the Cyprus problem.
80th Anniversary of the CPC – AKEL
1. The 20th Congress fully adopts the declaration of the Extraordinary Pancyprian Congress on the 80th anniversary of the CPC- AKEL. On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the CPC-AKEL, the 20TH Congress extends a warm militant greeting and heartily congratulations to the members and friends of the Party, especially to the veterans of the Party and the Popular Movement, to the Cypriot working people and to the Cypriot people in general. The 80th anniversary of the CPC- AKEL is a very important anniversary for the Party, the workers movement and for Cyprus. The CPC-AKEL through its struggles, sacrifices and services has been recognised in the consciousness of the Cypriot people as the eminent force of progress, the force that defends and promotes the rights of the working people, the Party which fights for Cyprus and its cause and which expresses the aspirations and visions of the Cypriot people Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins. It is the Party which is fighting for peace, democracy, social progress and socialism.
2. The 20th Congress expresses its satisfaction with the events in honour of the 80th anniversary of the CPC-AKEL, which will come to a head in 2006. It calls on the Party memberships to work for the greatest possible success of these events, which present an opportunity to project the history, service and gains of the Party and of the broader Movement of the Left. It also presents an opportunity to project our revolutionary and always timely ideology, the contemporary and renewed image of the Party, its patriotic, responsible, militant and campaigning character, its visions for the future.
3. The 20th Congress states that the Party will honour deservedly the anniversary of the 80 years and its whole history and service through new struggles for Cyprus and the working people, for the further strengthening and unity of AKEL. The 20th Congress calls on the members of the Party in honouring the 80th anniversary since its foundation to all work together earnestly, with enthusiasm and self-sacrifice to fully carry out our political, organisational and other duties.
4. The 20th Congress of AKEL underlines emphatically that the members and cadres of the Party and of the broader Popular Movement who were murdered unjustifiably during the years 1955-1962 are heroes and martyrs of Cypriot freedom. AKEL is committed to continuing the struggle until their names have been finally cleared and their memory rehabilitated.
The 20th Congress of AKEL and its importance
Each Congress of AKEL is of special importance for the further development of the Party itself and its militant activity and service to the people. Given the influence that our Party enjoys in Cypriot society and the role that it plays in the life of the country, every congress of AKEL by definition is at the same time also an important political event for Cyprus.
The importance of the 20th Congress of AKEL is defined by the political parameters in which the congress is held, by the issues which will be discussed and the decisions which it is called upon to adopt.
As far as the Cyprus problem is concerned we are going through a critical phase in which a difficult battle is being waged for the formulation of the preconditions leading to the resumption of the dialogue, which this time should present well-founded hopes that will lead to the desired solution to the problem. The 20th Congress is called upon to evaluate the developments on the Cyprus problem during the past five years, discuss and think about the present phase of the problem, to discuss our relations with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots. The 20th Congress is called upon to take decisions which will constitute a guiding force in our further struggle to achieve our permanent objective of the liberation from Turkish occupation and the reunification of our homeland under the cover of a bi-communal bi-zonal federation on the basis of the UN resolutions and the High-Level agreements.
Since the 1st of May 2004 Cyprus is a member state of the European Union (E.U). New developments are also taking place surrounding the Cyprus problem but also concerning the internal socio-economic situation. The 20th Congress has a duty to evaluate these new realities, the accession, its consequences and perspectives. It is also called upon to take decisions based as ever on the objective reality and not on the illusions which characterise other political forces.
For the last two and a half years we have in Cyprus a government which was elected through the co-operation of the democratic progressive forces and in which we participate in as the largest political force of the coalition forces. Our estimation concerning the course of the administration up till now, our evaluation of our own participation and aspirations should all find a place in the discussions, deliberations and decisions of the congress.
As with every congress we should seriously think about the situation of the Party and the Popular Movement in general. We should reflect on our successes but also on the problems, weaknesses and shortcomings which we have shown in our party work. Taking decisions which will aim at confronting the negative phenomena in our work and the further strengthening – political, ideological, organisational – of our party so that it can become even more capable of playing its pioneer and decisive role in Cypriot life. Through our work and the decisions of the Congress we should strengthen that climate of heartfelt unity and elation, which we all were so pleased to have felt during the Celebratory Congress for the 80th anniversary of C.C.C.-AKEL. We should strengthen comradeship and unity within our ranks. Set aside the grumblings, inwardness and wretchedness, which do not suit and honour us. We should cultivate the enthusiasm and optimism which have always characterised the members of AKEL.
We have to wage a series of election struggles, first and most important of which are the parliamentary elections. The congress should put all the forces of the Party and the Popular Movement on vigilant alert and give the signal to initiate the pre-election campaign, aiming to raise AKEL-Left-New Forces to an even higher standing for the good of Cyprus and our people.
Let us not forget that the 20th Congress is taking place at a time when we are celebrating with feelings of happiness, emotion and pride the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Party – AKEL. The greatest honour worthy of this historical anniversary would be to conduct a congress worthy of the history and sacrifice of our Party and lay out new foundations for even greater successes in the future.
International developments and the world progressive movement
International relations are an important arena of exercising politics, both for the promotion of our positions on the Cyprus problem, the promotion of broader common goals with the other Communist, Workers and Progressive parties of the Left abroad and for the defence of workers gains.
International developments since the previous congress are characterised by the continuation and consolidation of the so-called new world order. The position which holds that henceforth the violation of international law and imposition of “ the law of the powerful“ has been reaffirmed. The USA and their allies want to maintain and expand their political, economic and strategic hegemony in every corner of the world. The terrorist attacks of 11th of September 2001 in the USA offered the opportunity to strengthen their imperialist policy and gave the pretext for greater arbitrariness mainly through the dogma of preventive war. The most indicative examples of this policy are the two big wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Besides, by using the cloak of democratisation attempts are being made to overthrow by any means all those regimes that are not seen as friendly or to the liking of the USA. By using the cracking down on terrorism as an excuse, laws are being promoted and imposed – the notorious laws on terror – which curtail human rights and political freedoms and violate the personal data of citizens.
We condemn terrorism as a means of contesting national rights and waging national liberation and social struggles. Despite all this, we consider that the tackling of terrorism is a collective task which should be put under the aegis of the UN. The reasons which give birth to terrorism should first of all be tackled, such as poverty, social injustice, religious fanaticism, national oppression and every form of violation of international law. Democratisation cannot be achieved through the imposition and threat of force. The only road towards safeguarding world peace and stability is through supporting international law, the respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of independent states, the respect of cultural and religious particularities, relieving the UN from American guardianship and the strengthening of the role of the Organisation in tackling international problems.
The process of economic globalisation, in the way it is taking place today, serves the interests of big capital and especially of the multi-national companies of the developed countries. The absence of ´´ the opposite
Force of fear´´ and of an alternative economic model has led to the consolidation of capital and the imposition throughout the world of a conservative capitalist model, that is to say neo-liberalism. This capitalist model can only survive by attacking the gains of working people and the social welfare state and by increasing unemployment and poverty. As far as the developing and poor countries are concerned, they are facing the biggest consequences of neo-liberal globalisation. They are forced to adopt the demands and terms of western developed countries, which are also imposed through the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation and which condemn them to further exploitation and depravation. The injustice and inequality, the innate characteristics of the capitalist system are evident in the unequal development of states on an international level but also in the inequality between citizens on a national level.
The consequences of neo-liberal globalisation have led to various reactions and mainly to the creation of the first World Social Forum at Porto Alegre in Brazil 2001, demonstrations against the World Trade Organisation and the Group 8 countries and generally to what has been called ´´the movement against globalisation´´. The duty of the Left and progressive social forces is the further development of the co-operation with the Social Forums on an international, European and national level and for them to acquire a proper class-based orientation and to play an important role in the resistance against the imposition of a singular international economic model without the consent of the peoples and citizens.
The wars of the Americans and their allies in Afghanistan and Iraq led to the creation of a real international anti-war movement with intense activity also within American society itself. The movement against globalisation and the anti-war movement represent a hopeful perspective in challenging neo-liberalism and the new world order. However these movements are still in the early stages of their development.
The European Union remains an advanced form of capitalist political-economic integration, which stems from the need to widen internally the capabilities of big west European capital for more and greater field of action, but also from the need to strengthen as much as possible west European political and economic interests in facing the other powerful centres of the capitalist world- the USA and Japan.
The rejection of neo-liberalism has been clearly exemplified by the peoples of two member states of the E.U, the French and the Dutch people. We interpret the results of the referenda on the Constitutional Treaty of the E.U as a rejection of the neo-liberal socio-economic policies, which have been implemented during the past few years in these countries and of the efforts to institutionalise these policies within the Constitutional Treaty. Our duty now is the continuation of the struggle together with the other progressive forces in Europe for the formulation of another Treaty which will have as its main concern the interests of the peoples.
The strengthening of the co-ordination and co-operation of the Left and Progressive parties on a European and international level is necessary so that the Left can resist the new world order and neo-liberal globalisation and to gain changes in favour of the peoples of the world and especially in favour of the lower and middle income strata. AKEL will continue to work and take initiatives towards this direction.
After the accession of Cyprus to the European Union AKEL participates as a full member in the Group of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left in the European Parliament, whilst it also continues to participate in the United Left group of the Parliamentary Convention of the Council of Europe. Through our activity in these groups AKEL is aiming to contribute to the formulation of a more democratic and socially just Europe but also to the promotion of our positions concerning the Cyprus problem.
As regards the creation of the European Left Party, AKEL from the very beginning supported and participated in the efforts to form it and considers that the Party can respond to the need of a better co-ordination and unity between the parties of the Left in the E.U. Nevertheless, AKEL judges that hasty actions were made in the course of these efforts before the conditions really matured for the foundation of the Party. AKEL considers that there is a real need for the broad unity of the Left in Europe and that is why every action in this direction should be made in a measured and steady way.
AKEL utilised and will continue to utilise all of these forums for the promotion of the Cyprus problem.
The Cyprus problem
The Cyprus problem is a problem of invasion, occupation, foreign interventions and violation of human rights of the whole of the
Cypriot people. It is a question of the violation of the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus. It is a question of ethnic cleansing, which has been imposed through the force of weapons. The Cyprus problem is at the same time a problem of settling the relations between the two communities.
Since 1974 all the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem have come up against the intransigence of Turkey, its insistence on a solution based on two separate states and its struggle to secure rights of sovereignty over Cyprus. Whatever mistakes were made during all these years regarding the handling of the Cyprus problem by the Greek Cypriot side do not remove in any way the guilt from the shoulders of Turkey and the chauvinistic Turkish Cypriot leadership concerning their responsibilities for the perpetuation of the Cyprus problem.
The Turkish positions have always had a favourable response from the NATO partners of Ankara, who share a great responsibility for the creation as well as for the continuation of the problem. The situation on the Cyprus problem became even more difficult after 1990. On the one hand, Cyprus was deprived of traditional friends and supporters, such as the Soviet Union, the camp of socialist countries and the Non-Aligned Movement. On the other hand, within the framework of the so-called new world order, a gradual deviation from the letter and spirit of the United Nations resolutions on Cyprus took place, of which the Annan plan was also one of its consequents. The Rally government was also not spared of any share of the responsibilities regarding this deviation by its mistakes, shortcomings, concessions and contradictions.
The initiative to solve the Cyprus problem based on the Annan plan was the most concise effort to solve the problem. The Annan plan is the most comprehensive and detailed plan drawn up ever. However it is neither just nor balanced as those who formulated it support and continue to support. AKEL in judging that the Annan plan had both positive and negative elements accepted it as a basis for negotiation. It fought with all its strength for the necessary changes to be made which would have allowed the plan to be acceptable to both communities and lead to a viable and workable solution to the Cyprus problem. The suffocating timetables and the arbitration process of the General Secretary provided for did not allow a substantive dialogue of the two sides on the plan to take place and reach an agreed solution. The arbitration of the G.S was unfair and one-sided favouring the Turkish positions. AKEL did not fully agree with the evaluations of the President of the Republic, as they were expressed in his declaration, relating to provisions of the plan and especially as regards to his evaluation that this ´´does not abolish the de facto partition but on the contrary it legalises and deepens it´´. If such an evaluation existed then the plan should also not have been accepted not even as a basis for negotiation.
The Pancyprian Conference of the Party which took place on the 14th of April 2004 called for the postponement of the referenda so that time could be given for negotiation to take place on the points which caused concern amongst the Greek Cypriot community and so that the gaps of the plan could be filled. The proposal of AKEL unfortunately was not accepted by the Turkish side. That is why AKEL was forced to call on the people to vote against the Annan plan as it was put without any changes before the people to vote on. The result of the referendum is fully respected by AKEL. The position our Party took kept the perspective open for the resumption of the negotiation process and the solution of the Cyprus problem as a soon as possible. The position of AKEL is daily being vindicated by the developments themselves.
After the referenda the Republic of Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot side went through a very difficult period. America and Britain, circles of the Secretariat of the United Nations as well as circles within the European Union stepped up their efforts to punish the Greek Cypriot side. At the same time, on the pretext of ending the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, they worked towards the international upgrading of the regime of the occupied areas. The report of the G.S on May 2004 was unfair to the Greek Cypriot side and attempted to by-pass the 541 and 550 resolutions of the Security Council. The report of the G.S was not adopted by the Security Council. Our Party, co-operating with the President of the Republic and other forces, worked hard to repel the attacks for the defence of the legality of the Cyprus Republic – which represents the main weapon at the disposal of the Cypriot people in their struggle for survival – and so that the positions of the Greek Cypriot side would be understood.
At the same time our Party worked to repel the two extremist trends which manifested themselves on the domestic front. One trend, by exaggerating potential threats concerning the possible repercussions arising from the rejection of the plan, in essence came out in favour of its reintroduction in the form it was presented during the referenda, irrespective of the verdict of the people. The other trend, using the 75% “No“ vote of the referendum result as a pretext and in the name of some vague European solution, called for the complete rejection of the plan but also of the bi-zonal bi-communal federal solution itself. Both of these trends are catastrophic to the extent that they are maintained and reproduced.
As far as the current situation of the Cyprus problem is concerned, our Party continues to work hard, cooperating with the President of the Republic and the National Council for the creation of the preconditions for the resumption of negotiations within the framework of the United Nations. The creation of these preconditions is of huge importance, bearing in mind the fact that a new failure in finding a solution would be a powerful blow to the cause of Cyprus. We strive for the resumption of essential talks as soon as possible, avoiding any suffocating timetables, without of course this referring to endless talks and the finding of a solution in the course of time. We are aware that time is consolidating the fait accomplis of the occupation. We are aiming for the resumption of talks which will lead to an agreed solution without arbitration. We are working to convince for the need of those necessary changes to take place to the plan of the G.S which will also allow the Greek Cypriots themselves to accept it and open the road to a viable and workable solution. The changes we are aiming for do not alter the philosophy of the plan, nor do they take away rights from the Turkish Cypriot community. We have as a goal a solution which will serve the Cypriots, G/C and T/C and not serve the interests of any foreign forces.
The efforts made during the course of over a year seemed to be bearing fruit. This was also helped be the fact that the National Council has managed to agree on the areas of concern upon which we will strive to achieve changes to the Annan plan with the resumption of a new negotiating process. Despite the reactions which continue to be expressed mainly by the Americans and British, today it is becoming generally accepted that the persistence in bringing back the Annan plan to the negotiating table without any changes does not lead us anywhere. It is becoming accepted that changes should be discussed and made which will also satisfy the G/C community. It also seems that it is being accepted that the new initiative should be well prepared, suffocating timetables be avoided and that the goal should be the conclusion of an agreed solution avoiding arbitrator procedures.
The visit of the envoy of the President of the Republic to the seat of the United Nations in order to analyse the positions of the G/C side was both a correct move both on the substance and as regards clearing up any arguments from those who want to present the G/C side as being negative. The Prendergast mission followed, within the framework of the sounding out by the United Nations of the perspectives for the resumption of the talks. This visit inaugurated a process which potentially could have led to positive developments. AKEL will work in this direction with all its forces, hoping that we will have positive developments as soon as possible. The possible bringing back of last year’s report of the General Secretary to the Security Council aiming at its adoption by the body would have constituted a serious regression and damaged the efforts to resume talks.
The good intentions and political will of the G/C side alone cannot open up the road to the solution of the Cyprus problem. Ankara continues to hold the key to the solution. Both the Turkish government and the T/C leadership appear, for the moment at least, not to have the solution of the Cyprus problem on the top of their agenda, but instead the international upgrading of the regime in the occupied areas through direct trade, the bypassing of the Republic of Cyprus and international law. Turkey, through the formulation of the Annan plan and also through last years arbitratory process, managed to maintain and indeed gain advantages at the expense of Cyprus and the whole of the Cypriot people, G/C and T/C. If it insists on keeping these privileges it will not be possible to come to a proper and mutually acceptable solution to the problem. Turkey at some point must accept the idea that it is in its interest to begin to give and not just to demand and take.
If the international factor, and especially the Americans and the British, really want to help in the solution of the Cyprus problem they should terminate their policy of appeasing Ankara. It should be pointed out to the Turkish government and T/C leadership that there cannot be any possibility of upgrading the occupational regime and as a consequence their attention should be geared towards the search for the solution to the problem. The Cyprus problem continues to be an international problem within the framework of the UN. The G.S of the UN following the mandate given to him by the Security Council should in a collective manner, together with all the members of the Council, work towards the direction of solving the problem. The Cypriot government should utilise the interest expressed by Russia for a greater involvement in the activities surrounding the search for a solution to the Cyprus problem.
AKEL will continue to fight with all its forces for the peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem within the framework of the UN resolutions and on the basis of the UN resolutions and the High-Level agreements of 1977 and 1979, which provide for a bi-zonal bi-communal federation. The solution should be in keeping with international law, the international conventions on human rights and the acquis communautaire. The solution should provide for the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops and settlers. It should restore the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus without giving any rights of unilateral intervention to any foreign country. It should also restore and safeguard the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, including that of the right of return of the refugees to their homes and properties. AKEL will consistently support the political equality of the two communities within the framework of federation as this was itself outlined by the resolutions of the UN.
Cyprus and the European Union
In the Theses of the Central Committee for the 19th Congress of AKEL it was stated that : “ There is still hope that the accession process will help the solution of the Cyprus problem but this can only be achieved on two preconditions : Firstly that the European Union (…) accept Cyprus as full member regardless of the solution to its political problem. And secondly, accession should not relate only to the free areas but to the whole jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus ´´.
The accession of the Republic of Cyprus with all its territory is hence from the 1st of May a fact. This was also the main reason why such an intense activity concerning Cyprus took place before the accession, which also led even to the holding of separate referenda. As a consequence, the European perspective did indeed operate in a helpful way to the developments surrounding the solution of the Cyprus problem. It did not however operate in the same way regarding the content of the solution itself, something which AKEL had warned about long ago. As the introduction to the 18th Congress had characteristically mentioned regarding the review of the position of AKEL on the question of the accession process of Cyprus to the European Union : “the European Union will not aim at adapting the solution to the acquis communautaire , which in any case is open to important divergences – sometimes in violation of every notion of EU tradition and practise – but will continue to support the efforts taken each time by the UN and the agreement which will result from these efforts´´.
Thus, as AKEL had exactly forecasted, our European accession course had a decisive effect on generating mobility, but not however also in relation to the content of the solution of the Cyprus problem. The result was that we were forced to reject the Annan plan as it had been presented without any changes and that Cyprus was not unified at the time of accession.
Despite the fact that our efforts to achieve a solution before the accession were not successful, AKEL remains firmly dedicated to the cause of the
solution of the Cyprus problem. As the Declaration of the Central Committee states on the occasion of the accession : “ the latter cannot in any way replace our strategic goal which is none other than the peaceful reunification of our country and people within the framework of a bi-zonal bi-communal federation“.
The participation of Cyprus as a full member of the European Union should continue to be used as a driving force for the solution. The dynamics of the solution, which developed in the period before the accession, should not be stopped and must also be safeguarded in the events to follow. Any possible attempts made which tend to cultivate a climate of relaxation and phenomena characterised by arrogance on the occasion of the completion of the accession process are damaging and should be avoided. The arguments put forward by some circles that accession makes the reversal of the strategic goal of a bi-zonal bi-communal federal solution feasible, weaken the dynamics for the solution. AKEL will resolutely oppose any such attempts, which do not serve the cause of the solution and reunification.
The accession course of Turkey should also continue to be utilised in the direction of the solution to the Cyprus problem. In the light of the start of the accession negotiations, Turkey already has the obligation to sign the Protocol for the extension of the Customs Union with the ten new member states, including the Republic of Cyprus. It is true that such a development does not constitute a formal recognition. Nor however does it simply have to do with a trade agreement but an advanced relationship which in the course of time will develop the dynamics of de facto recognition. It is important to continuously use the European course of Turkey in the direction of the solution to the Cyprus problem, even if this course will face problems after the difficulties which emerged as regards the approval of the Constitutional Treaty.
Despite the fact that accession did not coincide with the reunification of our country and people, the dynamics which this development as well as the accession course of Turkey creates can, if it is correctly utilised, decisively contribute to the main goal, which is none other than the solution of the Cyprus problem.
The European Constitutional Treaty
Our Party after a broad inter-party dialogue voted against the proposed European Constitutional Treaty in the House of Representatives. We rejected the Constitutional Treaty because we disagree with:
1. The constitutional imposition of neo-conservatism and all that entails for the working people.
2. The dismantling of the social state.
3. The restriction of the political rights of the ordinary citizen in the name supposedly of security.
4. The restriction of individual freedoms in the name of the so-called suppression of terrorism.
5. The dependence of the foreign and defence policy of the European Union on NATO.
6. The militarisation of international relations in contradiction to international law.
7. The indirect subjugation of Europe to American influence.
8. The continuation of the degrading of the legislative role of the European parliament, the only democratically elected body in the EU.
9. The continuation of the existence of the democratic deficit, which is also expressed by the fact that the Charter of Fundamental Rights is not binding.
10.The undemocratic behaviour of the leading circles in the EU after the ´´NO“ vote, who by refusing to accept the renegotiation of the Treaty, have reaffirmed in essence that they do not represent the peoples.
At the same time we reaffirm our commitment to the goal of a different kind of Europe, a Europe of peace, democracy and social justice, a Europe of the peoples. We shall continue to struggle to achieve this different kind of Europe, which is feasible, together with the forces of the Left throughout Europe.
Rapprochement holds an important place in the policy of our Party for the solution of the Cyprus problem and the construction of a common
homeland for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Through the policy of rapprochement in the difficult years of tensions, bi-communal conflicts and division, our Party vigorously and resolutely fought nationalism-chauvinism, and managed to keep the channels of contact open between the two communities and keep the will and desire for reunification and cohabitation alive.
Our Party always considered rapprochement as a component part of the anti-occupation struggle of our people and as a consequence it
lent a political and social content to it. We reject those positions which limit rapprochement simply to the level of mere psychological contact and certainly we are against any attempts being made by foreign circles to overtake the movement for rapprochement. Rapprochement is a matter for Cypriots themselves, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and of the organisations which express them.
With the passing of time and despite the fierce attacks conducted by various quarters, especially from the nationalist Right, AKEL managed to promote the policy of rapprochement as a decisive factor for the achievement of a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem. Gradually the policy of rapprochement was recognised and adopted – at least in a verbal sense – by all the political forces, something which at the previous Congress we had evaluated as a significant success for our Party with positive repercussions for the struggle to solve the Cyprus problem.
From the previous Congress up till today, important events have taken place, which have undoubtedly also influenced the policy of rapprochement. Three events have greatly left their mark:
a) The opening of the barricades/gates and the partial removal of the obstacles to the movement to and from the partitionist barbwire. This development offered the opportunity for the mass and peaceful coming together of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, which totally discredited the myth that cohabitation is impossible. At the same time, this development created more favourable conditions for the construction of a common front of struggle against the occupation and partition.
b) The change in the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community with the removal of Rauf Denktas and the undertaking of the leadership of the community by forces that had traditionally fought for a federal solution to the Cyprus problem.
c) The holding of the referenda with the well-known results, which caused feelings of disappointment and damaged the trust between the two communities but also the expectation for a quick solution. In this climate and as a result of an orchestrated attack, the high regard and trust that the Turkish Cypriots had traditionally held towards our Party was dealt a blow.
Bearing in mind all of these events, some are suggesting that the role of rapprochement has declined and that this policy has nothing substantive to offer to the solution of the Cyprus problem.
AKEL totally disagrees with such views. Today the role and importance of rapprochement is even more important than ever before. First of all, rapprochement as a political act can also contribute a lot in many other fields.
Rapprochement should continue to represent the counter-force to nationalism and chauvinism, which appears either with a detestable and extremist mask by hauling enosis, anti-Turkish and anti-communist slogans from the past, either through the rejection of the federal solution, either through becoming accustomed with the structures of the pseudo-state and by the defending of these structures even by the progressive forces of the Turkish Cypriot community, either by the acceptance of ethnic cleansing which has been carried out in our country.
AKEL and the organisations of the Popular Movement, basing themselves on the ideology and long historical traditions of the movement, continue to be the pioneers of rapprochement. The Cypriot Left, in adhering to an unwavering position that Cyprus belongs to its people, is leading the way in formulating and practically implementing the policy of rapprochement. It translates its declarations into practise through unity in action with the Turkish Cypriots.
The Turkish Cypriot community
AKEL, without neglecting the decisive role played by Turkey in the occupied part of Cyprus, attaches great importance to the T/C community and to the role it can play. G/C and T/C are objectively strategic allies in the struggle for the reunification of our homeland. In the period since the 19th Congress of AKEL serious developments have taken place inside the T/C community. The will of the T/C community for a solution to the Cyprus problem and for accession to the EU was expressed by mass demonstrations. The Parties which declare that they are in favour of the federal solution – especially the Republican Turkish Party CTP – have strengthened their positions and votes in recent years.
As AKEL we have greeted the removal of Denktas – the main voice of partition – from the leadership of the T/C. The change which took place, at least up till now, does not vindicate the aspirations of the Cypriot people, G/C and T/C. For some time we have ascertained that the leadership of CTP has moved away from the common positions on the Cyprus problem, which we had elaborated together in the past. Whilst the present T/C leadership states that it does not call for the international recognition of the pseudo-state, at the same time it shows an excessive identification with the structures of this occupational formation. The effort to internationally upgrade the pseudo-state, the attempt being made to gain political capital to the detriment of the Republic of Cyprus by the movements being made for the economical development of the T/C community and more especially the continued increased rates in creating new fait accomplis on the land – especially those relating to the property issue – do not help the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.
The Turkish Cypriot leadership, fully in line with Ankara, seems to see as its foremost priority, at least for now, not the solution of the Cyprus problem but the lifting of the so-called embargo of the T/C and through this policy to achieve the international recognition of the pseudo-state.
In order to create the preconditions for the resumption of talks, the T/C leadership must put the solution of the Cyprus problem once again as its first priority. At the same time the T/C leadership must be willing to understand the concerns of the G/C community and the issues it puts forth to be discussed.
We maintain the channels of communication and dialogue open with the T/C political parties including CTP, in an effort to help in the mutual understanding and the creation of better preconditions for the resumption of talks. The unfair attacks which AKEL faces from time to time from the T/C leadership do not help the promotion of this goal and has begun provoking reactions also amongst the T/C.
AKEL from the very beginning stood in favour of the development of the economic and living standards of the T/C, provided that this would be done on the basis of international and EU legality and would not aim at bypassing the Republic of Cyprus. Within this framework AKEL greets all those measures which the government of Change has taken to support the T/C and broaden the relations, also including economic relations, between the two communities.
Around seven thousand T/C are working unobstructed in the free areas of the Republic. Through the decisive intervention also of PEO, the aim is for the T/C to enjoy all the rights and benefits which their G/C colleagues enjoy. The T/C due to the fact that they pay a reduced contribution to the Social Security Fund do not receive a pension, today receive a lump sum. Tens of thousands of T/C have acquired travelling and other documents of the Republic of Cyprus, which helps towards their integration into the European Union and the rest of the world. All T/C receive free medical treatment from state hospitals. The institution of scholarships and the economic support to T/C studying at the University and in primary, secondary and higher education has been broadened.
AKEL by lending its support to these measures calls on the government to be even more determined in the implementation of the policy it has announced concerning the T/C.
Some people are trying to create a negative climate against the T/C in view of problems that arise in the implementation of some measures in favour of the T/C. We shall strongly combat such efforts.
nternal administration and the domestic front
The 19th Congress of AKEL had put as a goal the increase in the percentage of AKEL-Left – New Forces in relation to the percentage we received in the parliamentary elections of 1996. The May 2001 parliamentary elections saw us achieving this goal and we managed as AKEL-Left-New Forces to become after sixteen years once again the first political force of the country. As the first political force, as a party with many years of struggle and priceless service to Cyprus and our people and within the spirit of the decisions of the 19th Congress, we put forth the G.S of the C.C of AKEL Dimitris Christofias as a candidate for the post of the President of the House of Representatives. With the support of DIKO and EDEK, Dimitris Christofias was elected President of the House of Representatives. The election of the G.S of the C.C of AKEL to the second highest post of the Republic of Cyprus is a fact of historical importance for the political scene in Cyprus. It ushered in a new period in which AKEL not only supports, within the framework of alliances, the election to the highest posts of the Republic of personalities from other political fields, but also rightfully contests these posts for its own.
In implementing the decisions of the 19th Congress, our Party worked hard so that the co-operation of the democratic and progressive forces could be achieved, aiming at the democratic change in the governing of the country. This attempt was certainly not at all easy and despite the ups and downs it had a successful conclusion. The presidential elections of 16th of February 2003 represented a turning point in the political life of Cyprus. The democratic and progressive forces allied together managed to elect Tassos Papadopoulos as President of the Republic of Cyprus from the first round. Hence an end was put to the ten year anti-popular government of the Rally party, which had accumulated huge problems in the majority of the sectors of political and socio-economic life and had led the Cyprus problem to adventures. As a result of the election victory, AKEL is participating for the first time in the Ministerial Council with party cadres. AKEL also has an essential participation in the wider administration of government.
The people have put a lot of hope and expectations in the government of Change and are especially looking towards AKEL as that primary pro-popular political and social force for the implementation of the programme of governing. From the very beginning, as the leading component part of the new government, we set the goal of focussing on the success of its work and to implement the programme on which it had won the vote of the people. AKEL believes that the implementation of the government programme was and is of the up most political importance. AKEL remains committed to work until the end for the implementation of the programme despite whatever difficulties arise.
From the very start of the new administration we stressed that in the course of the implementation of the programme we would face difficulties and obstacles. The bad situation the public finances were in and the other problems which the Rally decade had left, the consequences of the accession to the European Union felt by various strata of the population and especially as a result of the improper pre-accession negotiation process, the fact that the state machinery in its great majority is filled with people from the Right, the bureaucratic mentality and the perceptions of the state machinery, are some of the basic factors which we had estimated would cause problems and obstacles, as is the case. The problems are also being intensified by the effect external factors have, such as the war in Iraq and the huge rise in the price of petrol on the international market we are witnessing today.
Despite the problems and the difficulties, the assessment made of the Papadopoulos government up till now is positive. The government has given concrete examples which show a different mentality and approach to the socio-economic affairs of the country, the tidying up of public life, the promotion of meritocracy and honest administration. Whatever deviations are taking place by some people in the field of meritocracy and honest administration are not acceptable, are reprehensible and AKEL demands that their instigators should be dealt with. A number of commitments of the pre-election programme have already been carried out and on many other issues decisions and actions are in place for their implementation.
Despite all that has been done the rates of implementation of the government programme are not those we expect, the result being that there is dissatisfaction among strata of the population, especially among the people of the Left who have great expectations from the present government. This dissatisfaction concerns either problems of specific groups of the population, either problems of a personal nature, sometimes they are justified and as such the government should show the necessary sensitivity. Of course sometimes this dissatisfaction is unjustified because it does not take into account the conditions in which the government programme is being put into practise or it is characterised by an impatience for all the commitments outlined in the programme to be immediately implemented.
AKEL expects that the successful implementation of the convergence programme in the economy, which the government is putting into practise, will allow it to implement the government programme at a faster rate and to tackle in a more decisive and pro-popular way the problems which exist and concern the popular strata. Even now the government should follow a policy of anticipating various situations which follow as a result of the consequences of accession, as AKEL has proposed from the very beginning. The consequences should be forecasted at the right time and a satisfactory therapy should be proposed before conflicts and confusion amongst specific strata of the population are created.
The participation of AKEL in the government is on a daily level proven to be substantive and productive. There are many examples where the intervention of the Party in the tackling of problems of various strata of the population is a decisive factor. The Ministers of AKEL are considered as some of the most capable cadres which the present government has. This does not mean that there is not any room for improving our intervention in government policy. The Party calls on its Ministers to contribute more decisively to the formulation of pro-popular policies of the government, to handle in a more determined way the issues put before them, to be more resolute in standing up to the government bureaucratic mechanism and to have a greater and more immediate contact with the people and their problems.
Despite the importance of the contribution that ministers have in the implementation of the programme, especially in the ministries that concern them, this is not just up to them. The bodies and the cadres of the Party, at whatever level they carry out their duties, the Parliamentary Group of AKEL- Left- New Forces play and are called upon to play also in the future an even more determined role in helping towards and in exercising pressure for the implementation of various aspects of the government programme. They have a special role to play in the organisation and mobilisation of the people where this is necessary in order to correctly tackle the problems that arise or to prevent wrong decisions and policies.
The co-operation of AKEL with the government, and especially with President Papadopoulos, is very good. This co-operation is characterised by sincerity and mutual respect. The good climate in the relations of our co-operation should continuously be enhanced for the good of the country and the people. The co-operation and climate which also exists between the political forces that support the government is in general terms good, despite the broadness and diversity of these forces and despite the different approaches coming to the fore from time to time, which create tension. That is why we ascertain the need for further co-ordination and understanding between the parties that support the government and with the government itself.
Participation in the government does not imply a levelling of political forces and the negation of their autonomy and independence. We support the government but on decisions and policies that we disagree with, we will state our difference of opinion and make our opposition or our different approaches known to the people. We will continue to do this always in a responsible way because our aim is not to undermine but to help the government. At the same time, as AKEL, we are not prepared to tolerate populist phenomena and demagogy when leading cadres from parties that support the government criticise in the easiest possible way the government itself, in essence identifying themselves on the one hand with the completely negative opposition carried out by the Rally party and whilst on the other hand they consider it self-evident that AKEL as a responsible Party has a duty to support the government. Nor will we tolerate phenomena of anyone trying to win votes by exploiting their position in the administration of government, a phenomenon which was observed during the euro-elections.
When AKEL was in opposition it resolutely defended popular interests. It severely criticised the administration of the Rally party and its neo-liberal policies. It projected its own constructive proposals to tackle the problems of the country. It never resorted to populism and demagogy. The policy of the Democratic Rally party is completely different now that it is in opposition. It conducts a totally negative and non-constructive form of opposition. It often resorts to demagogy and populism. It provokes confrontations inside parliament. It exploits in the easiest possible way acute problems, the majority of which were created during its own period of government and does not hesitate in instigating unnecessary mobilisations aiming to cause damage to the government and parties that support the government. This stand of the Rally party creates tensions and undermines the unity on the domestic front. AKEL will continue to expose the totally negative and unconstructive opposition of the leadership of the Rally party. This duty should be conducted in a more decisive way and no oppositionist action of DISY should remain unanswered.
Parliamentary elections and other elections
The coming parliamentary elections, as with every other similar process, are a major political event. An event which defines the composition of the legislative body, allows the projection and comparison between the positions of the parties in front of the people and records the strength of parties. It determines the balance of political forces for 5 years, hence the possibilities of political influence on political and social matters.
AKEL has established since 1990 the policy of broadening and renewal of the electoral lists and it’s Parliamentary Group. This broadening covers personalities from the broader left political space, from the non-partisan left and centre democratic space which AKEL has always embraced and represented.
The coming parliamentary elections will take place in very different conditions from any previous ones and with entirely particular characteristics.
1. They are held in conditions where the new world order is being imposed and of course with the American administration even more blusterous due to the re-election of President Bush.
2. They are held with Cyprus a member of the Europe of 25 with all the negative and positive consequences that entails. Especially in conditions characterised by a crucial confrontation within the Union concerning issues of economic and social policy and budget and mainly surrounding the fundamental question of the European Treaty. A Treaty which is trying to institutionalise the unjust and anti-popular economic model of neo-conservative and anti-popular development for decades to come. The struggle concerning the Treaty has opened up the possibility to activate and mobilise large sections of the popular masses headed by the left and progressive forces. In two countries the ´´NO“ vote of the peoples led to very serious developments throughout the EU. This experience should be utilised. The issues concerning the EU will be put on the agenda of the pre-election struggle.
3. For the first time our Party is participating with 4 ministers in the government of the collaborating parties under the Presidency of Tassos Papadopoulos. The efficiency and record of the government, the effectiveness of our participation and the whole administration in general will all be at the centre of attention of the pre-election campaign.
4. The parliamentary elections of 2006 will be waged in the aftermath of last year’s referenda and European elections. At the same time they will be influenced by a new political landscape being shaped, due to the withdrawal of a group of cadres and members of parliament from the DISY Rally party and the creation of a new political formation but also of new alliances.
5. These elections as never before will be characterised by the involvement of the mass media, public relations and research offices, polls and political advertisement. Without doubt they will also be characterised by the biggest economic budgets spent in parliamentary elections ever.
6. All of the parties will strive to broaden their election lists through the inclusion of personalities from different fields and social groups.
7. An unprecedented explosion of populism headed by the leadership of DISY but also from other political forces is to be expected.
8. All the political moves up to and after the elections will be geared towards the presidential elections.
On the basis of the facts outlined above we should:
1. Formulate an effective strategy and tactics and an original and innovative pre-election campaign.
II. Formulate the broadest possible lists representative of the strength and prestige of AKEL and the Left.
III. Repeat and reiterate the policy of broadness with New Forces and of renewal, with the inclusion of even more respected and capable people from the broader political space but also new and capable people from our own political space.
IV. Immediately after the congress all the forces of the Party and the Popular Movement should be mobilised and put at the service of the election struggle. The necessary organisational, economic and technical preparation should be made in time.
Local community elections
The election of municipal authorities in today’s world is constantly attracting the interest of citizens and local communities. This is the natural result of the need and demand for the upgrading of the quality in our life. An upgrading which can be achieved through the actions of local authorities themselves but also through their enhanced role and position as a result of legislative and government decisions.
At the level of the local municipal authorities themselves, as well as at the level of the legislative and executive power, the role and presence of AKEL was and is a decisive factor. It is not by chance that today the position of the President of the Union of Municipalities is held by the elected AKEL cadre Mayor of Limassol.
Today we have the opportunity to reaffirm and strengthen the recognised role of AKEL in Local Administration by our contribution in solving the new problems and needs of local society.
Apart from the daily concerns of citizens, which local societies are interested in, our services and decisive interventions on questions relating to infrastructure and development create the preconditions to distinguish our own decisive role.
These questions include:
– Social Security and solidarity
– Culture and sports
– Environment and ecology
– The grouping of services
– Quality and effectiveness of the services provided
– Equal and balanced development
– Support of residents living in the countryside
Bearing in mind all the above-mentioned, we remain firm in the policy of promoting our most capable party cadres as well as of broader forces at local administration level. The objective of broader election lists still remains, also during these elections, so that they can express the whole amplitude of AKEL-Left-New Forces.
The policy of co-operation and alliances will again be at the centre of our electoral tactics, also bearing local conditions in mind.
Without doubt the presidential elections represent the culmination of the struggle for power. Their results determine which forces and on the basis of what programme these forces will exercise power for 5 years and which interests they will serve.
The elections of 2008 take on a new importance, which is determined by the realities which have resulted in the following new factors:
– The phase of the Cyprus problem as a result of the referenda of the 24th of April 2004, the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU, the new state of affairs in the occupied areas and the concrete new government alliance in the Republic of Cyprus.
– Our presence in the EU and the course of the relations between Turkey and the EU as well as the developments in the EU itself, especially concerning matters relating to enlargement.
– The presence in the administration of the country of a President who has also been elected by the votes of AKEL, which is the main partner of the government through its direct participation in it for the first time since the foundation of the Republic.
The strategic goal for the 2008 elections remains the election of a pro-popular, progressive and democratic government. An administration which will have as its first policy priority the solution of the Cyprus problem or the implementation of a solution if by then a workable and viable solution has been found. And at the same time the further promotion of modernisation of Cypriot society in a pro-popular direction.
How this goal can be achieved is a matter for the Party to examine at the right time taking into serious account the experience of its present participation in the administration of the country and the conditions as they will have been formulated by the developments on the Cyprus problem and the internal administration.
The organisational state of affairs
In the period under review the party mechanism, voluntary and professional, was called upon to fulfil a number of tasks which stem from the decisions of the 19th Congress and other guiding bodies of the Party and from the political developments.
We had successes on many fronts. The party structure worked hard and persistently. In the crucial period of the parliamentary, local administration and Presidential elections, the party mechanism managed to positively fully carry out its tasks, despite all the difficulties and problems.
Positive steps were taken in the functioning of party bodies and Auxiliary Boards, the achievement of the goals of the yearly organisational plan, the mobilisation of the members and supporters of the Party and the Popular Movement.
There were however serious weaknesses and obvious shortcomings. “The weaknesses in our organisational state of affairs, which where expressed more intensely through a reduction in voluntary work in the electoral and other mobilisations of the Party were even more evident“ in the European elections, as the Plenum of the C.C and the C.C.C of 9th of September 2004 had ascertained.
The same Plenum had stated that there was a relaxation, numbness, a lack of planning and an unsatisfactory mobilisation for informing the people on the doorstep, ´´ our party mechanism, professional and voluntary, was slow in beginning work´´. The subjective factor could not play its role.
The duties of our organisational mechanism as they are expressed throughout the 80 year historical course of the C.C.C-AKEL, the needs of modern times, the increased duties due to the participation of our Party in the government of Change, mean that the ´´long standing´´ and ´´newer´´ problems and phenomena should be faced urgently and tackled in order to solve the problems.
The 19th Congress through an objective and dialectic analysis gave an interpretation as to the appearance of the phenomena of slackness, tiredness, reduction in voluntary work and self-motivated promotion, stressing that ´´the character of AKEL does not allow for compromise´´ with these phenomena and that the Party must ´´fight them and find ways of strengthening its organisational capability“.
In the period under review, whilst efforts were made to tackle these phenomena and the problems which they reproduce, we did not achieve any particular successes. Unfortunately concerning some of these phenomena a relative worsening has even been observed.
The need to study in depth all of the above-mentioned issues and the methodical implementation of measures and actions for the improvement of the situation remain.
The trend towards preferring public posts, as time goes by is being strengthened and widening, for various reasons, which often ends up however being at the expense of the strengthening of the party mechanism.
Organisational work, especially among the people, at the base level is difficult, hard and often stressful. That is why all of those comrades who work in this field must feel that their activity is appreciated. Our organisational structure, voluntary and full-time professional, as the soul of the Party, amongst other things, should be correspondingly strengthened without any hesitation and scepticism. The issue is important and must be promoted simultaneously with other aspects of Party activity such as those dealing with the new members, their correct assimilation, the strengthening of the political and ideological level of members and cadres at all party levels.
The Party Base Group (PBG) – which is the foundation of the Party, the link connecting it to the working people and more widely to our people, the means of implementing Party decisions – must be given more attention not only by the guiding bodies, but also by the cadres themselves, at all levels, whether they be party cadres who work in the mechanism of the Party or whether they also hold public posts.
The attempt to combat the negative phenomena, the need to solve the problems which these phenomena cause, goes hand in hand with the gradual and multifaceted qualitative improvement in the functioning and effectiveness of the Party. Bearing this in mind it would be useful to hold, between the periods of two congresses, a Pancyprian Organisational Conference, which could play a positive and important role, as a landmark but also as a starting point for the 21st Congress of our Party.
The use of various polls, which the Party has at its disposal, will help in the direction of the further improvement of our organisational situation. They can also help the Party in its discussions and concrete efforts and in other internal party activities concerning vitally important issues.
It should be made clear to all that the most important task is the existence, functioning and the continued all-round strengthening of the Party. As long as the Party exists, there will be struggles and gains and public posts. Let us be guided by this and let us give the proper importance to the need of a continuous organisational readiness and a correct assessment of the importance of a post in the party.
AKEL´s intervention in the mass groups of specialized interest
The 19th Congress having evaluated positively the intervention of the Party in the various mass groups of special interest, beyond the Popular Movement, also noted ´´ shortcomings, weaknesses, omissions which must be tackled by planning, methodology and co-ordination from the top to the base level.´´
There are quite a lot of mass groups, their role is wide-ranging and important and deal with all aspects of life and activity of contemporary Cypriot society. The organised party factions in professional-trade union areas have achieved important worthy successes. However, there are still grounds for further improvement in their activity. At the same time because needs and capabilities have grown, there is a need to set up organised party factions in new places.
In relation to the Party representatives in institutional organs, whilst a positive contribution and a corresponding interest have been observed, the need also arises here to establish a better understanding and co-ordination.
A significant contribution by cadres, members and even friends of the Party and the Popular Movement is also being observed in broader and specialised mass groups on a local, regional and national level.
There are of course weaknesses and shortcomings and in some cases compromises, which we should look at and overcome by taking concrete measures. However there are also fields of activity where for various reasons we do participate in. The numbers of these areas where we do not have any participation are being reduced all the time. But the rate is not that which is required and not that which AKEL can develop. A greater and better organised intervention of the members of the Party in the various mass groups is needed.
To achieve this we need the de-centralisation, co-ordination and regulation in the way we establish contact between our comrades and friends who participate in various mass groups with the relative guiding body or auxiliary Board of the Party, because unfortunately a lack of co-ordination and an ignorance of the necessary elements and data are observed. That is why the question of establishing contact and functioning should work both ways: we should have this at the centre of our attention and our efforts should be followed through.
The unity of the Party
The unity of the Party is our greatest gain and the most powerful weapon we have at our disposal. In the five years since the 19th Congress up till today the phenomena relating to the violation of the collective decisions of the Party have unfortunately intensified. We witnessed such phenomena in various electoral struggles and especially during the referenda of April 2004. The violations of collective decisions have shown a gap in our ideological and political education, which we must tackle. During the difficult times, during hours of ordeal when we were called upon to take a position on fundamental questions, we did not all rise to the occasion. Some comrades put their own personal conscience above that of the collective conscience of the Party, thus creating a problem of cohesion and effectiveness in the policy and struggle of the Party.
We paid a price for all these negative phenomena. We have made our criticism and self-criticism. We took measures to combat these phenomena. We decided to leave our bad side behind us, to strengthen the comradeship, mutual respect and solidarity between us. Above all we decided to consolidate the unity of our Party and to rally even more our forces around the decisions and principles which define it. The painful experience which we went through must have made as all wiser and more responsible. It must have made us more aware of how damaging it is to put personal opinion, however strong it may be, over and above the collective decision.
We must continue combating this negative phenomenon, as well as whatever other negative phenomena come up in our work, struggle and behaviour. Only in this way will the Party be continuously rendered more capable of putting into practise its decisions, implementing its policy, promoting its unity and facing the difficulties ahead. The devotion of all of us to the organisational principles of the Party and to the virtues of communist morality is necessary and imperative.
The bodies of the Party should not exhibit any tolerance towards negative phenomena. Through comradeship and persuasion but also through the taking of measures, where that is deemed necessary, we must protect the unity, policy and principles of the Party, as they are defined by our constitution and interpreted by the collective bodies.
Our ideological work
The ideological education of party members and cadres remains one of our most fundamental duties.
At a time when the ruling ideology is attempting to appear as the allegedly contemporary way of thinking, which supposedly extends over and above narrow class interests, the ideological instruction of the members and cadres of the Party is a necessary precondition for maintaining the ideological-class based character of the Party, its militancy and efficiency.
The ruling ideology, imperialist ´´new world order“ and globalisation of the multinational companies promote the concept of the end of ideologies and erasing of the borders between the Left and the Right, distancing from politics, cosmopolitanism and the indifference towards organised struggle. This situation also affects our party life creating phenomena of slackening, a reduction of voluntary work, indifference and self-promoting individualism. The intensification of our ideological work is a main factor in fighting these negative phenomena successfully.
The basic principles of our Marxist-Leninist outlook, our concept of socialism, internationalism, and the contemporary reflections within the world progressive movement should always be at the centre of our ideological work. The organisational principles which set out the functioning of our Party should also be at the centre of our ideological work. The displacement or violation of these principles has proved how damaging in practise this can be for the Party and its activity. At the same time the militant defence of our ideology, the uncovering of the deadlocks, the contradictions and illusions of the ruling ideology, the well-documented disclosure of the anti-popular character of neo-liberalism, the struggle against nationalism and chauvinism, the struggle against sub-culture and cosmopolitanism, in the particular conditions of Cyprus are not just of ideological but also of great political importance.
Life itself proves our ideology, free of dogmatisms and outdated concepts, is daily being verified by life itself. It constitutes the solid basis on which we base our policy on and operates as a beacon of guidance in the major daily struggles, as well as those struggles of smaller importance, waged by our Party.
Despite all the efforts which have been made it is a fact that we have not managed to upgrade our ideological work as much as we would like and which the conditions themselves demand. Therefore the task remains of upgrading our ideological work, to put it on a more organised and planned basis in combination with the better use of the possibilities that modern technology has to offer. The greater involvement of the organizing mechanism in the planning and implementation of education work is a necessary precondition for success. The greater and better use of our international relations, in particular concerning contemporary reflections within the Left internationally, is imperative.
The struggle on the ideological front is not something which only concerns the cadres and members of the Party, but embraces the whole of society. Consequently our work in the ideological field should be characterised by a greater openness and should aim at conveying our own messages to the broad strata of the people.
The 80th anniversary of C.C.C-AKEL should also be used in our ideological work. The many years of struggle, priceless service and the great sacrifices of our Party contain lessons at all times, which should be assimilated by every member of AKEL and passed on broadly to every progressive person in Cyprus.
The 19th Congress of our Party had noted that ´´Neos Democrates´´, the theoretical and political journal of the Central Committee, in recent years has in essence become inactive. It is sad because, apart from making this evaluation, we did not manage to take some steps in changing this situation. The issue of the role, regular publication and upgrading of the content of our theoretical and political voice, has to be looked at by the new Central Committee in a very serious and specific way.
Vigilance is part of our daily Party work. Vigilance is not something removed from the rest of the work of the Party. It is part of it. AKEL is the Party of the working class and the working people in general. It is a big national political force. As a big political force, AKEL needs to be continuously informed about the different developments and machinations so that it can be in a position to correctly formulate its policy and tactics. On the other hand it should be in a position to avert possible actions against the party itself and its cadres.
A constitutive part of Vigilance is the duty to protect the leadership of the Party and the Popular Movement, the events of the Party and the Popular Movement, as well as our property – buildings our offices are housed in where daily work is carried out as well as the buildings of the Left clubs which were all acquired through economic contributions and the voluntary work of our members and cadres. We should always remember that there were many hostile actions carried out in the past against the Party and our cadres by various quarters. That is why we need to be vigilant.
At the same time, being a Party that carries out its activity in a semi-occupied and threatened by many dangers country, we consider it also our duty to be vigilant on matters that have to do with the security of the state. The assistance given to the competent state authorities from AKEL on information issues both before and after 1974 has proven to be very important.
For all these reasons and bearing in mind the crucial phase that Cyprus is going through, the two aspects of party and political vigilance – the information and protection which is the duty of the whole party membership as well as of the friends of the Party – must be intensified and upgraded.
The Parliamentary Group
It is widely believed that the new role of the Party, as the biggest political component of the government of Change, is in a real sense changing our work and activity in various fields. Within this framework the Parliamentary Group and the work carried out by its members, both inside and outside of parliament, is of crucial importance, given the reflection and the positive role which it can have on the implementation
of the government programme but mainly on the whole presence and work of the Party to the people.
The content of the activity of the members of the Parliamentary Group is essentially divided in to two equally important fields: the work carried out inside and outside of parliament.
The whole presence of our Parliamentary Group inside Parliament is viewed as expressing all those elements which should characterise the activity of the Party. The earnestness, responsibility, well-argued documentation of positions, respect of other political forces and the collective spirit are all elements which are also witnessed in the parliamentary work of the Party. Of course in a place such as Parliament it is accepted that mistakes will be also be made and that there are shortcomings in our work. It is granted that clear margins for improvement exist. However as a whole the assessment of our work is positive.
In the period under review, the members of the Parliamentary Group played a leading part in the modernisation and promotion of legislation in various fields concerning the living standard, quality of life and prosperity of the people and above all of the working people. Such fields include education, health, culture, welfare state, housing, the problems of refugees etc. At the same time significant initiatives were taken relating to the institutionalisation of faultless and meritocratic procedures in the hiring and promotion of people in the public service sector, army and police.
The participation of our Members of Parliament in the House committees, in the international delegations of the House of Representatives and the initial strengthening of the work of the Presidency of the House, which we have the honour but also the great responsibility in holding, was productive and many times was of decisive importance.
From the moment we as a Party put the issue of contacts with the people very high on our priorities, the extra-parliamentary role of our Parliamentary Group is considered to be of special importance.
The members of the Parliamentary Group of AKEL – Left – New Forces during the whole period of their terms developed substantial and all-round extra-parliamentary activity, especially in relation to the bringing up and solution of hundreds of problems. Problems faced by cities and communities, professional groups, employees, self-employed individuals, women, peasants, refugees, people affected by the 1974 war, young people, students, civil servants and other specialised sectors of the population.
The contact with neighbourhoods, communities and organised associations but also with the ordinary people was in general terms satisfactory. There were however cases where the people expected a greater amount of contact. An area where a clear improvement was noted, despite the fact that there is still a lot of room for achieving better results, is that of the communication of the Members of Parliament with the District Committees of the Party and the mass organisations of the Popular Movement.
The vindication of the efforts of the Party concerning the scientific support of parliamentary work should imply the use of the Parliamentary Assistants to the greatest possible degree, an institution which we view as being positive, noting at the same time the broader possibilities which are offered and should be used.
In general terms, the Parliamentary Group has constituted a well-prepared team that has contributed significantly, among other things, to the presentation of the positions of the Party. Capabilities and perspectives exist. However, the general assessment is that a lot of work has been done in the period under review and that in general there has been a positive general response to the duties which the capacity of a member of the Parliamentary Group of AKEL-Left-New Forces entails.
Certainly, as in every field of public life, it is appreciated that the renewal of our presence in Parliament, the freshening up and the use of new people in connection with the entrusting of new party duties to older members of the Parliamentary group can contribute positively to the continued effort to modernise the Party.
Our presence in the presidency of the House
The election to the Presidency of the House of Representatives of the G.S of the C.C. of AKEL is a vindication for our Party and its many years of struggle. With the election of the G.S of the C.C of AKEL to the post of the President of the House of Representatives we aspire to give a qualitatively different dimension to the institution.
The presidency functioned in a consensus manner and promoted the approach of achieving a common conception. It developed and cultivated the excellent relations with parliaments abroad. It developed parliamentary diplomacy even more, putting it at the service of the cause of Cyprus at a time of great difficulty for our country. The House through a number of initiatives established the communication with the ordinary citizen and carried out wide ranging activities in various fields such as in the field of culture. Work conditions in the House have been improved. The custom of the scientific parliamentary assistants has been introduced. A series of innovative institutions have been supported such as the Old People’s Parliament and the Parliament of Young People.
According to the constitution the President of the House of Representatives is called upon many times to deputise for the President of the Republic. In the period under review and irrespective of who leads the Republic of Cyprus the President of the House of Representatives executed his duties in a public spirit and with full respect to the institutions.
Our Party has shown that it is capable not only of holding leading institutions of Cypriot society but also through its work to bring them to the fore of Cypriot society.
Our presence in the European parliament
AKEL, since June 2004, is participating in the European Parliament (EP) and in the Political Group of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE / NGL) with two European members of parliament and our cadres who are employed in the Left Group and the Bureau of the European Parliament.
For AKEL, the participation in the EP represents another bastion of struggle for the promotion of the Cyprus problem, the combating of neo-liberal policies and those decisions of the EU that limit democracy. It represents the bastion for the promotion of pro-popular militant policies in favour of the broad strata of the working people.
Our own participation is even a means of co-ordinating and achieving agreement between our forces in the European United Left, the most progressive group of the European Parliament.
Taking as a fact that the long-term goal of transforming the European Union into a Europe of the peoples, social justice, true equality between men and women, democratic functioning, participation and socialism always remains topical, our parliamentary group actively participates in the institutionalised Parliamentary Committees and Delegations of the European Parliament fully undertaking the duties that derive from our participation in the EP.
At the same time AKEL participates in all the meetings and mobilisations of GUE/NGL which take place in Belgium and in the other countries of Europe.
Our Party, aiming to highlight the great issues of the EU in our country, has organised seminars on Terrorism and Political Rights in the EU and the Lisbon Strategy and its consequences for working people, bringing the issues closer to the Cypriot people and projecting its own critical opinion and comprehensive position.
As far as Cyprus is concerned the firm consistency of GUE/NGL on positions of principle relating to the solution as well as its correct stand on important aspects of developments on the Cyprus problem, such as the regulation for the funding of the T/C community and the issue of the regulation of “direct´´ trade, has been safeguarded. At the same time, efforts are continuing so that the EP can demonstrate a positive stand on the efforts of the Cypriot people and the political leadership for a viable and workable solution to the Cyprus problem.
The hosting by AKEL in Cyprus of the seminar that the Group holds every 6 months last June on the problem of Cyprus and the Middle East question was another example of the respect that GUE/NGL continues to show towards our Party.
In assessing and using the experiences of the one year we have functioned both in the EP and the political group of GUE/NGL and bearing in mind our size and the difficulties, our Party can further improve its functioning and effectiveness at this level.
The daily newspaper “Haravgi“
´´Haravgi`, as the daily voice of AKEL, is always at the centre of attention of the leading bodies and of the Party in general. The constant improvement of the paper’s content and presentation on the one hand, and the steady increase in its circulation on the other, are permanent goals.
The circulation and study of “Haravgi“, particularly by the party members and cadres, is at the same time an ideological, political and organizational issue.
The content, quality and appearance of the newspaper certainly play a serious role regarding its circulation. In the period under review the newspaper has made serious and essential changes both in the content and form and the new format has helped the newspaper attain a new modern look. However the improvement in the look and content of the newspaper was not accompanied by an increase in the circulation.
The negative phenomenon of a general slackness also influences the issue of ´´Haravgi“. Besides, we are called upon to tackle problems which are being created by the loss of newspaper sellers. In addition to that, the great number of Mass Media, and especially the electronic media, with the many information programmes and debates shown, creates the wrong impression that people can be fully informed, and consequently cultivates the wrong deceptive notion that the regular buying and studying of “Haravgi“ is in some way superfluous. However, for the Party member, even for the friend of the Party, reading “Haravgi“ on a daily basis cannot be substituted by the following of any other mass media. Only by reading ´´Haravgi“ can the member of AKEL and every citizen be informed comprehensively, fully and correctly about the positions of the Party on all the issues affecting Cypriot society and the struggle to promote these positions. The AKEL member needs to receive this daily information in order to be able to play his or her role in society. Even people in the immediate surrounding of party members also need this briefing, since it is from the AKEL members immediate surroundings where the broader circle of the Left and of the democratic people who stand by us are situated.
Becoming aware of the need to buy and study “Haravgi“ on a daily basis is a permanent ideological and political duty, which should be cultivated by the Party bodies, starting from the C.C and going down to the party base groups. The spreading of our voice and the increase of its circulation is an organisational task which has however a significant political and organisational content. The circulation of “Haravgi“ by a press agency should not and cannot substitute our own duty to convey wherever possible the voice of the Party. The organising of campaigns to increase the circulation of “Haravgi“, the participation of the whole of the party membership and the personal example of cadres in these campaigns, the specific and planed work to secure regular subscriptions, the solution of circulation problems should constantly be at the centre of the attention of all party bodies, on a central, district and local level.
The need to continuously upgrade the content and presentation of “Haravgi“ so that it can correspond to social development and to the contemporary demands of information, and analysis of the policy, positions and proposals of the Party are imperative. The management and all the contributors of the newspaper should work continuously, taking seriously into consideration the views of the members and friends of the Party, in order to achieve the further improvement in the content, quality and presentation of “Haravgi“.
The Cypriot economy
The Cypriot economy, with its peculiarities, is in addition developing within the environment of Europe and globalisation. A globalisation that is attempting to impose the ´´neo – liberal´´ neo-conservative model of development as an exemplary model of socio-economic development. A model that is today unfortunately dominant in the European Union.
Neo-liberalism promotes the unaccountability of the market in the name of “free-competition“ by implementing its basic policy principles through the undermining of the state as the strategic agency for exercising economic and social policy, the promotion of privatisation and liberalisations on a mass scale, the deregulation of labour relations and in general the further unjust distribution of wealth in favour of multi-national companies and big capital at the expense of labour and the weaker strata of the people.
Cypriot society as a constituent part of the world socio-economic capitalist system could not but be influenced by all these developments.
AKEL attaches great importance to the chapter called Cypriot economy. A vigorous economy on a healthy basis and with a strong infrastructure is an important prop in the struggle which our people are waging for the reunification of our homeland.
We are working for a modern economy in which we want the social and private sector to co-exist, complement and co-operate with each other. We want an economy which will have the people at the centre if its attention and which will conform to the needs of the broad popular strata.
The economic philosophy of AKEL, which has the people at the centre of its attention and their all-round development, is based on the following principles:
– On a modern, dynamic, flexible and socially-oriented mixed economy.
– The promotion of a more just distribution and redistribution of the wealth produced by society.
– The allocation of economic burdens according to each person’s income and on the basis of taxing wealth.
– The construction of a socially aware state sensitive to the needs of people that will protect and support the economically weak strata of society.
– The regulation of the unrestrained operation of laws of the capitalist market in such a way so that their operation will not be to the detriment of the economically vulnerable strata of society.
The decade in which the Clerides government was in power was characterised by neo-liberal conservative approaches and an economic policy which in general terms coincided with the goals and priorities of big capital.
Within this framework an attempt was made to weaken the economic and social role of the state, undermine the role of organisations of social benefit aiming at their privatisation as well as to promote anti-popular measures in the field of taxation policy and labour relations.
The negotiations regarding the harmonisation with the acquis communautaire took place within the framework of this policy, hence lessening the possibility of a more decisive and determined negotiation, which could have protected in a more effective way both the interests of the popular strata and the vitally important sectors of the economy within the bounds of a more smooth and controlled adaptation procedure.
Despite the socio-economic policy of the previous administration, the Party and the Popular Movement, through their strength and influence on the popular strata, waged fierce political and social struggles which resulted in preventing to a satisfactory degree the phenomena of social backwardness and in effectively protecting the economic and social gains of the people.
The change in the administration of the country creates the preconditions for a different economic and social philosophy and approach with a pro-popular and progressive content as this is expressed within the programme of the government of Change.
The new government has inherited an economy in a state of recession with growth rates almost next to nothing, a huge public deficit unheard of since the post-war phase of development of the Cypriot economy, a significant worsening of public debt and with productivity levels at their lowest level since 1974. However, today the economy has began a path of recovery with growth rates evidently higher and with significant progress in budgetary discipline given that the deficit has been drastically reduced and public debt has shown signs of improvement.
It is important to note that this improvement is being achieved without taking measures which would hurt especially the popular strata and reduce the growth effort.
However it is also a fact that under these conditions those economic and social measures which fully correspond to the aspirations of the popular strata which have supported change and are included in the government programme, have not yet become as noticeable as AKEL is striving and campaigning for.
The improvement in the economic situation of the economy, as it is being witnessed today, is in a position and imposes the need for the implementation of more radical social policy measures for which our Party, as the main constituent both of the front of forces which elected President Papadopoulos and of the government itself, will systematically and insistently work towards, based on the commitment to fully implement the spirit and letter of the government programme.
Economic and social problems
1. The one-sided development of the economy in the direction of the services sector and especially towards the tourist sector. The Cypriot economy is following the trend of the developed capitalist countries which wants the service sector to play the major role in development. The basic priorities in our development strategy should be:
– The breaking of the dependence of economic development on the tourist sector, without this leading to its degrading. On the contrary what is needed is to put tourism on a different basis and improve its quality.
– The development of new service sectors in combination with the high level of training of the labour force.
– The parallel development of the productive sectors, through the use of modern technology, new methods of management and research.
2. The continued shrinking of the productive sectors and the need to modernise the material base of the manufacturing industry. The customs union and harmonisation process with the acquis communautaire were accompanied by the abolition of the restrictions in the movement of goods. This procedure led to the loss and closing of many manufacturing units of traditional industry.
What is needed is the modernisation and technological upgrading of the manufacturing sector by concrete support programmes for small middle businesses whilst at the same time using the relevant programmes of the European Union. The improvement in efficiency and the increase in productivity are the tests which the Cypriot economy is called upon to pass.
3. The public deficit and debt are structural problems which require radical therapy. Despite the positive steps which are being made, permanent solutions should be found which will lead to their permanent control and management. The modernisation of the state machine, increase in productivity of the public sector, rationalism in employment, tidying up of the expenses, further modernisation of the tax system and the stamping out of tax evasion are all measures which will lead to the curbing of the deficits. The steps taken in this direction are certainly encouraging.
4. The phenomenon of poverty which leads to social exclusion needs to be fully tackled. Despite the positive steps which have been made in this direction and which have reduced the number of people facing this danger, such as the noticeable rise in the minimum wage which is specified by a decree and the extension of social benefits and subsidies, nonetheless a significant number of people continue to live in conditions below the socially defined level of poverty. Despite the fact that the gradual development of the Social Insurance system will restrict this problem, especially among the pensioners, nevertheless a further modernisation and improvement in the system of public benefits for the tackling of this phenomenon is needed.
5. The continued rise in the value of land and the cost of buying a house is making the housing problem even more acute. The significant preparatory work carried out by the Ministry of Internal Affairs after the election of the new government through a wide-ranging social dialogue in which both AKEL and PEO had a substantive participation and the preparation of a comprehensive housing policy plan for the refugees and non-refugee citizens should be noted. This policy should immediately be implemented within the framework of the social priorities of the state. Particular attention should be given to the implementation of specialised housing programmes for poor families and young couples.
6. Despite the fact that unemployment in Cyprus continues to remain at comparatively satisfactory low levels, nevertheless constant vigilance and attention is required. The mechanisms of the state which deal with this sector need to be upgraded and modernised so that they do not just constitute mechanisms of recording unemployment but mechanisms that implement a modern and effective employment policy.
7. One of the major issues affecting society in general but also the labour movement in particular, is the employment of immigrant workers which is taking on mass dimensions. The problem was made more acute due to the great demand for working people in mainly manual jobs and the free movement of working people mainly from the new member states of the EU. Cypriot society is called upon to manage a mass phenomenon of legal but also illegal employment. Immigrant workers make up around 14% of the economically active population, the highest percentage throughout the whole of Europe.
The pressure put on the gains of a section of Cypriot workers who are turned into victims of blackmail by Cypriot employers, the phenomena of severe and in many cases of inhuman exploitation of immigrant workers, who are used as cheap labour but also as a tool to undermine the gains regarding the terms of employment and collective agreements and the illegal employment of thousands of immigrant workers, who suffer the most fierce exploitation, project the reality of immigrant workers in Cyprus.
It is a serious socio-economic phenomenon which the state and society are called upon to manage.
Illegal employment is a matter that concerns the state. The state should take immediate action concerning the implementation of the legislation and severely punish those employers breaking the law and who have created the problem for profit.
On the other hand, the granting of work permits for immigrant labour force should be suspended where there is a need for local labour force, in conjunction with the revision of the criteria in relation to the granting of work permits for the employment of immigrant workers.
AKEL will work together with the labour movement so that the terms and conditions of employment of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, but also of immigrant workers who are employed legally in the country (members or non-members of the EU), should be the same as those provided for by the collective agreements without no discrimination whatsoever on behalf of their Cypriot colleagues.
AKEL as an internationalist Party will stand against the exploitation efforts and against any racist and xenophobic phenomena which seem to be appearing in Cypriot society.
Working people and the labour movement
As the 19th Congress had noted, during the period of the ten-year Rally administration the movement of the working people had faced all-round attacks given that the priorities and the socio-economic policy of the government and the aims of big capital were identical.
This policy was mainly characterised by the efforts to shift the burden of harmonisation with the acquis communautaire on the shoulders of working people and the popular strata basically through the systematic efforts to privatise the institutions of public interest, impose heavy taxes, the attempt to change the Cost of Living Allowance and the toleration and support of the efforts of the employers to deregulate labour relations and undermine the right to organise and attain collective agreements.
The change in the administration of the country and the fact that the progressive, democratic forces of the country headed by Tassos Papadopoulos came to power has put a brake on this neo-liberal attack, creating a more favourable climate for working people and the labour movement.
The content of the government programme in general corresponds to the demands and aspirations of the working people and its implementation is the basic goal of our Party.
The change in government has put a stop to the policy of privatisation, and imposition of new taxes, defended the Cost of Living Allowance -considering it as a blessing and not as a curse for our labour relations system – and promoted at the same time, in so far as the situation of public finances allows, social policy measures such as the substantial increase in the minimum wage which has been defined by a Ministerial decree, the solution of problems relating to the extraordinary allowances for pensioners and others.
There has also been a noticeable difference in the general approach of the government towards the labour movement as regards the issues relating to the procedures of solving differences, the renewal of collective agreements and the respect of the procedures of social dialogue and tripartite co-operation as well as of collective bargaining. The withdrawal by the government of the bill which provided for the legislative regulation of the right to strike in essential services and the incorporation of this procedure into the Code of Industrial Relations sent a positive message in this direction.
The full accession of Cyprus to the European Union – despite the fact that it represents a success for the government and the Cypriot people since it constituted a basic political priority for Cyprus – has created new realities in the social and economic sector, which have affected working people and their gains, just as AKEL had predicted and warned about.
The policies of the European Union, whether they are expressed through directives or recommendations or through European strategies and guidelines, reflect the negative balance of forces within the decision -making centres of the European Union and the neo-liberal philosophy, which unfortunately is dominant throughout Europe.
The employers and big capital, helped by the policies of the European Union, are intensifying their attacks against the rights of working people, aiming at the depreciation of labour, the undermining of full employment, which is regulated by collective agreements as well as the downgrading of the role of the labour movement.
The main goals of this policy are the efforts to deregulate labour relations, stemming from the Lisbon strategy, through the promotion of so-called flexible forms of employment, the attempt to increase working hours as well as the attacks on the character of the social security systems and the rights of those insured.
Bearing all this in mind the role of the class-based labour movement is even more necessary and essential, the coming together of working people, their organisation and resistance against the attacks of the employers constitute a basic precondition for the defence of their economic, social and labour gains and for the campaign to gain their just and logical share within the framework of economic growth.
It is a fact that the present government has inherited a very bad economic and social situation with huge public deficits, an economy characterised by especially disappointing records, with productivity at its lowest level since the invasion and a number of serious structural problems.
Taking into account this situation our Party and the movement of the Left in general has shown an understanding and has supported the effort to reduce the public deficit without of course giving its consent to any kind of measures which would in a one-sided way seek to harm the interests of working people.
We note with satisfaction that the public deficit is drastically being reduced and that the economy seems to be on the road to recovery. For us it is clear that the improvement in the situation creates the preconditions for a more effective social policy which aims at the alleviation of the weaker strata of the population and the improvement in the position of working people.
The Pancyprian Federation of Labour PEO, the leading class-based labour organisation of the working people, in the period under review has enhanced its role and influence within the labour movement, strengthened its identity as a contemporary, effective, class-based labour organisation and has enhanced its ties and contacts with the working people.
The intervention of the Party has also been substantially strengthened in other areas of labour union activity, in the civil service and in the education sector.
Bearing in mind the anti-popular climate in general which exists inside the European Union, the intensity in the aggressiveness of big capital as well as the aspirations and demands that working people have from the government of Change, AKEL will resolutely support the labour movement in its struggles and campaigns based on the following axes :
1. The insistence on the full implementation of the election programme that the government was elected on.
2. The resolute resistance to the attacks by employers and the efforts to undermine the system of collective bargaining and collective agreements.
3. The promotion of institutional and legislative measures for the strengthening of the right to organise working people and their protection from the arbitrariness of employers.
4. The defence of the social character of the state and the protection of the social security system. The tackling of whatever problems the long-term viability of the Social Security Fund is facing should not be done through the restriction of the insured persons, nor of course through the abolition of the right to early retirement at 63 or the extension of the retirement age limit beyond 65.
5. The promotion of a more just distribution of the results of economic growth and the protection of the weaker strata of the population as well as of women and young people.
6. The co-ordination with the other Left progressive forces in Europe for the strengthening of the struggle against neo-liberalism, against the anti-popular policies followed by the ruling circles of the EU and for the promotion of positions regarding a different Europe characterised by social sensitivity and the respect of the rights of working people.
AKEL and the Popular Movement should continue to exercise their influence so that Cyprus as a member state of the EU promotes and supports policies within the centres of decision – making policies, which correspond to the demands and aspirations of working people and are in keeping with the programme and character of the government.
A basic and elementary duty of the members of AKEL is to play a leading and guiding role in their mass labour organisations. Both within the ranks of PEO and other labour organisations and factions, which are active in sectors and occupations such as civil servants, teachers, bank employees and others, the members of AKEL should consider it their duty to be leading cadres in labour organisations and through their activity and example inspire and guide working people.
Farmers and the farmer’s movement
Farmers went through a very difficult five year period, which was marked not only by the harmonisation with theacquis communautaire but even more so by the consequences of Cyprus` accession to the EU.
The weaknesses, shortcomings, mistakes and policies of expediency (mainly for pre-election reasons) of the Rally government, which was promoting harmonisation with the acquis communautaire and conducting the accession negotiations, were paid and continue to be paid by farmers and cattle-breeders. Also the fact that the majority of Cypriot farmers at the time of the accession of Cyprus to the EU and the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy were not informed and unprepared led quite a number of sectors of the broader agricultural sector on the road to extinction.
The Rally administration, by keeping the development budgets for the agricultural economy at a low level, did not promote the modernisation and restructuring of agricultural sectors, nor did it strengthen the competition of agricultural goods through the reduction of the production cost and increase in productivity.
The election to power of Tassos Papadopoulos by the forces of Change raised well-founded hopes of farmers for reversing the negative climate. Since 2003 a fundamental objective of AKEL has been the implementation of the agricultural Programme of the government of Change, contributing in this way to the solution of the structural problems of the broader agricultural sector, paying at the same time attention also to issues concerning the development of the countryside, aiming first of all at the absorption of the tremors caused by the consequences of accession to the EU.
In the 14 month period since the election of Tassos Papadopoulos to the presidency up to the accession of Cyprus to the EU everything possible was done with the continued support of AKEL to tackle omissions and weaknesses such as:
– The voting of legislation, the timely creation and accreditation of the Pancyprian Agency of Agricultural Payments, so that from the first year of accession the European outlay of funds could be used in time.
– The solution to an extent of a number of land-planning problems of sheep and goat industry units,
– The settlement of matters regarding the monopolistic regime of the Trade Councils,
– The regulation of the monopolistic regime of the Grain Council and settlement of the issue concerning the collection of wheat,
– The settlement of harmonisation issues regarding poultry farm slaughterhouses, slaughterhouses and of a big group of industries and manufacturing artisans of agricultural goods in a more rationalist way according to the circumstances.
Despite all of these efforts, the accession of Cyprus to the EU created quite a number of problems for the agricultural economy and had a negative effect on agricultural income. Nonetheless the Government managed to find compatible ways and supported a series of agricultural sectors, strengthening the income of producers. AKEL and the Union of Cypriot Farmers EKA played a key role in this effort by putting forth positions, opinions, proposals but also by suggesting practical means of providing help and support to farmers.
The support and provision of aid to farmers and countryside citizens remains a constant goal of AKEL, especially in view of their new multifunctional role stemming from the growth directions of EU agriculture, which regards them as agencies for the management and protection of the environment and supporting the countryside through sustainable development procedures. We should fully exploit towards this end the two basic self-supplementary pillars of agricultural development:
Pillar A – Development expenses in the State Budgets of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment so that among other things:
– To pursue an agricultural growth policy.
– To build strategically important infrastructure works for the broader agricultural sector.
– To further strengthen and develop agricultural research for the promotion of new varieties in vegetable production and the improvement of races in animal production.
– To promote the education of producers in the implementation of modern methods of organisation and management of agricultural units and to train producers on a permanent and planned basis regarding technological developments and the contemporary implementation of agricultural and stock farm practise.
– To follow the developments and trends on the European and international market so that the necessary and relevant measures could be timely made to re-orientate Cypriot production.
– To secure a continuous flow of information to farmers and people living in the countryside.
Pillar B – Agricultural Growth Plan so that among other things:
– To diversely support the applicants so that they can fully outlay the amounts provided for.
– To comprehensively inform Local Authorities and people living in the countryside about the agro-environmental measures so that they can be fully utilised.
– To support and upgrade the dialogue which has began with the agencies involved, mainly with the Farmers Movement, for the preparation of the Cypriot positions on the Agricultural Growth Plan 2007-2013, aiming amongst other things at:
1. To boost agricultural growth.
2. To further support the modernisation and restructuring of the agricultural economy.
3. To promote development on a community level, combined with agro-tourism.
4. To provide improved and pioneer Plans especially for woman farmers and the young people living in the countryside.
5. To give priority to measures supporting the social structure of the countryside, especially of the mountainous, semi-mountainous and isolated regions, creating new employment positions and ensuring a satisfactory income.
AKEL is working for the implementation of the government programme in relation to the agricultural economy, values the progress which has been achieved and will continue to make its contribution so that this programme will be fully implemented, including the positions concerning:
i) The settling of agricultural debts, without also excluding their cancellation,
ii) The endowment of young farmers with a lump sum,
iii) The creation of an independent Water Board for the rational regulation and better use of the water wealth and
iv) The foundation of a post – lyceum Agricultural School.
AKEL continues to support the positions both for the full protection of the farmer from the consequences of the adverse weather conditions and extreme climate phenomena, by also taking seriously into account the warm dry weather of Cyprus, through the upgrading and improvement of agricultural insurance, as well as the full insurance covering of vegetable and animal production. The Agency of Agricultural Payments should be transformed into a real shield protecting the farmer and cattle-breeder from any kind of damage, fully compensating for any damage caused.
AKEL, bearing in mind the changes in the Cypriot countryside but also the need for continuous information and briefing of its citizens, adopts the proposal of the Union of Cypriot Farmers (UCF) for the creation of a Pancyprian Information Centre properly connected to the regions.
AKEL in close co-operation with the UCF and the organised Farmers Movement will continue the efforts to create all those preconditions for the promotion of progressive agricultural reforms, which will have the farmer, the countryside citizen in general, and their anxieties and concerns, at the centre of their attention.
Women and the women’s movement
AKEL for over 80 years has been fighting together with the organised Women’s Progressive Movement of POGO, and more broadly with the Popular Movement, for Equality between men and women, substantive social breakthroughs and changes in the mentality and outlook, so that equality can overcome the level of legislations or political declarations and become a living experience and reality.
The position of AKEL is that the equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of democracy and respect to the human being. It is not a human right that should not depend on anything nor should any kind of dilemmas cloud the issue.
AKEL considers that the recognition of women as equal members of society and equal citizens, their promotion, recognition and elevation in the family, at work, in social life and public posts, has never been a matter concerning only women themselves. It was and always remains a cause and responsibility of society as a whole. It was and always remains a cause of those broader forces that are struggling for social progress and justice.
The woman’s issue is not a matter of competition between the two sexes. It is a question of social inequality whose roots lie in the exploitation and oppression which the ruling capitalist system reproduces. This system in essence leaves the social problem of double exploitation and discrimination against women unsolved.
AKEL is continuing to struggle so that the conservative position stating that every woman can struggle on an individual basis to achieve her rights and have her voice heard should be abandoned. Its many years of militant activity have shown that whatever rights have been gained today are a result and the fruit of hard and difficult struggles. The upgraded position today of women was gained through the organised activity of AKEL and the organised Woman’s Movement of POGO and the campaigns being waged today and in the future can only succeed in the same way.
AKEL holds firm on the position that woman’s rights in all areas of social life need to continue to be the subject of organised campaigning by the Party and the Progressive Woman’s movement of POGO, which must be given more support and help to continue to play its pioneering role, as well as to the new struggles which will also be unfolding due to the accession of Cyprus to the European Union.
AKEL will continue its efforts aiming at the upgrading of the presence and participation of women within the Party and Cypriot society as a whole.
AKEL will continue to consider as a fundamental precondition for the fulfilment of the above – mentioned goals the formulation of a comprehensive strategy for the implementation of its positions and proposals so that women can reach the position they deserve in Cypriot society. It will continue to work for:
– The readjustment of society’s attitude as regards the roles of the two sexes.
– Making many more women join the Party and participating on a broader scale in the life of the Party.
– The elaboration and discussion of party positions for the projection of the policies of AKEL concerning issues relating and regarding the female population.
– The exercise of parliamentary control concerning the practical implementation of the laws which have been passed.
– The upgrading of the role of AKEL in observing the implementation and integration of the principle of equality between the sexes in all policies.
The correct dimension in approaching the woman’s issue and her problems by AKEL, its 80 year militant path is the guarantee that it will continue even more vigorously to support and stand at the side of the Democratic Woman’s Movement of POGO, so that it can strengthen even more its role, service and voice in the new conditions prevailing.
Young people and the youth movement
The social and political environment, in which young people continue to live and carry out their activity, is characterised by acute negative phenomena which are connected to the stage of development of the capitalist system in our country, as well as the great influence exercised by the international environment as this is being shaped in the era of the imperialist ´´new world order´´ and neo-liberal globalisation.
The establishment and ruling ideology are pushing young people towards apathy and submission, individualism and to the search for ´´personal happiness´´, disorientation from the severe problems of our times, their distancing from collective participation and activity in social affairs.
The system formulates ´´false consciousness´´, cultivating illusions and often manages to succeed in achieving the social demobilisation of young people, which as a social group is more vulnerable to influences. Through these manifold mechanisms and structures the system reproduces these phenomena, it maintains and strengthens them. The mass media play a key role in this direction.
As a result of this reality, a section of young people express feelings of resentment towards politics and the political parties. This is a worrying trend for our society and dangerous for the Left, because the phenomena of resentment, disappointment and withdrawal from the political process function as a mechanism of self-defence, conservatism and reproduction of the establishment and the ruling class.
The Left, in order to fulfil its goals and especially the goal for the building of a society of justice, solidarity and equality with people at its centre of attention, needs active and not distanced people. The struggle, which the Left is waging on this level, is not only against the Right-wing conservative policy but also against this very attitude to life, of distancing and resentment to politics, which at the end of the day serves the policy of the Right-wing. At the same time however, particularly encouraging tendencies have been highlighted among young people, as election results within the youth movement, scientific research and polls have shown.
Trends, which show that young people are resisting the ruling logic of the system, maintaining their questioning and radicalism and that a very high percentage of them adopt the proposals and attitude to life of the Left, the collective way of organisation and organised struggle for the solution of the problems they face and for the formulation of a different perspective to the one which the system has in store for them.
The Youth Movement of the Left, EDON, maintains a strong relationship, presence and intervention among the young people. This relationship is based on the historical ties which the Left has built with the young generation in the struggles for the defence of the independence, freedom and democracy of our homeland, for the defence and broadening of the rights and gains of the young generation and is extended to the contemporary struggles and campaigns of young people.
In examining the current socio-political framework it is also important to record the great differentiation on the political scene which took place through the achievement of the goal of changing the administration of the country.
For a decade the young generation had to face a hostile environment which the right-wing, neo-liberal, anti-youth policy of the previous government of DISY had created. During this period the social role of the state was drastically undermined, unemployment and work insecurity had increased, the phenomena of meritocracy and favouritism but also the phenomena of social inequality and social exclusion had grown. Furthermore, the inconsistent policy of the Right-wing administration on the one hand forged nationalism to new levels and on the other hand it cultivated the logic of submission and subjugation to the ´´new world order´´ supposedly in the name of “the national interest“.
The battles and struggles of the Left, headed by EDON, serving the interests of young people are today being waged in a favourable climate, which has been created by the coming to power of the government of Change.
The present administration since coming to power two years ago has already implemented a significant part of the government programme concerning young people, of which the following stand out:
– The upgrading of the social role of young people and their participation in the decision-making centres which concern them, a field in which a real step forward has taken place, given that the time when young people were neglected has ended due to the practise of the present administration. Henceforth the institutional representation of the Youth Agency of Cyprus, POFEN (the united student mass organisation), PSEM (the united school students organisation) and in general of the organised youth movement in various permanent or ad-hoc committees are from now on an undisputable reality.
– In the field of meritocracy significant progress has also been recorded, as shown by the noticeable fall in the appeals made against the decisions of the Education Service Commission (EEY) and the Public Service Commission (EDY), the implementation of the legislation and the introduction of objective criteria in the employment of casual civil servants in the Public Service, the maintaining of the teacher appointment list etc.
– As far as the creative use of recreation time is concerned, the first Cultural Multi-centre in Ekali is functioning whilst the creation of such centres is being promoted in Limassol and Paphos. Also the Festival grounds at the Famagusta Gate in Nicosia and the establishment of children’s playrooms are functioning, whilst the establishment of open sports spaces for children is being actively promoted.
– Regarding juvenile delinquency, a permanent committee has been set up, the custom of parent counsellors has been introduced whilst the support services to prisoners in the central prison has been upgraded.
– In an effort to tackle the great problem of the use of various dangerous drug substances, the restructuring of the Anti-Drug Council has been completed, for the first time a five-year strategy to tackle the problem has been formulated, two drug-addiction care units called “Compass“ and “Looking Ahead“, a drug-prevention centre of ONEK in Limassol and a Documentation and Information Centre on drugs have also been created, along with the implementation of other preventative measures.
– With regard to young working people, the significant increase in the minimum wage, as well as the promotion and implementation of the support programme to tackle juvenile delinquency, stand out.
– In relation to students and education in general, one can single out the promotion of the plan for the reform of the education system, the creation of the Technical University which will enrol its first students in 2007, the introduction of the Student Card, the increase in the funds for the Institution of State Scholarships and especially the introduction of social criteria concerning scholarships as well as the consistent promotion of the University Halls of Residence and the expansion of the University itself.
In assessing the implementation of the government programme concerning young people, whilst we note our positive assessment of the progress which has been achieved so far, it is clear that many and important steps remain to be done and that is why the Party in co-operation with EDON will continue to exercise its influence so that the programme can be implemented at an even faster rate. Towards this direction we shall continue to support the just demands which are being projected by the mass youth movement and its organisations, whilst in the future we will not hesitate in disclosing our disagreement with government decisions or with decisions taken by other forces participating in the government, which may come into conflict with or are not even included in the government programme.
However, it is clear that despite the progress made, social phenomena such as concerning unequal opportunities, alienation, the intensification in the pace of life of young people, the marginalisation and the social exclusion of a section of young people, the increase in the use of dangerous substances and the cases of juvenile delinquency have not disappeared, even if today measures have began to be taken, which on a medium and long-term level will help in their alleviation.
The serious problems which all the categories of young people face have also not disappeared. The problems faced by working youth, students, school students and soldiers doing their military service.
At the same time today the phenomena of mass sub-culture being promoted by an entertainment show industry conceived by big capital are intensifying, which fully identifies with the aims and objectives of big capital, cultivating methodically the “values“ of the capitalist system on a systematic basis.
Consequently in making a correct and objective assessment of whatever positive but also negative facts characterise contemporary social reality, the continued and further intensification of the militant activity of EDON and the Party is imperative for the defence and broadening of the rights of young people.
It is through this militant activity that young people can become conscious of the fact that the system never ensures better conditions of life but this can be achieved only through a constant hard class struggle. It is this concrete activity which reveals to young people the objective close relationship which exists between the goals and perspectives of the positions, struggles, visions of the Left and of AKEL with the gains and rights of the youth. It is this activity which creates the preconditions to win over the consciousness of youth, it is this activity which helps them realise the need for organised struggle.
At the same time the consistent and militant defence of principled positions on the Cyprus problem, as well as the pioneering role of EDON and the Left in general for the promotion of the policy of rapprochement between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, a policy which has been vindicated by life itself, against nationalism – chauvinism and the imperialist designs against Cyprus, are all in the forefront of the effort to win over the hearts and minds of young people.
Given the close unbreakable bonds between AKEL and EDON and given the position that there is a dialectical relationship between the progress and the successes of EDON and the progress and successes of AKEL, a relationship which also formulates to a large degree the perspective of the Party, it is imperative that ways to make this relationship even closer, ways of making the co-ordination and co-operation better between AKEL-EDON should be discussed, having the further support and strengthening of EDON as the primary goal.
Special emphasis should be given to enhancing the role and intervention of the local EDON organisations, the development of their political, educational, labour trade union and cultural activity, by harmonising its content to the modern needs and demands of young people. Special reflection should be made concerning the content of the activity of local clubs of the popular movement and the presence of EDON in them, as well as on the creation of places for the youth, through which EDON will be able to reach out to young people.
The working people in this category are today facing as never before the pressure and competition of big capital. This category of working people includes craftsmen, shop owners, tradesmen, drivers and professionals in the technical sector and in other services. Because of their size and income, their economic and political interests coincide to a greater degree with those of the salaried employees rather than with those of big capital.
Since its foundation, our Party has embraced these strata and contributed greatly to their professional organisation, offering all-round help and support for the solution of their problems.
The way situations have developed and the development of our economy during the past few tears has contributed to the growth of the services sector to the detriment of the productive professions, which are constantly on the road to decline. The involvement of big capital in new sectors of activity of the low and middle strata creates and causes a conflict of interests to a greater extent than in the past, resulting in a greater need today for an organised and collective handling of the problems caused by this conflict.
Big capital, by exploiting the accession of our country to the EU and the course of Cyprus’s harmonisation with the acquis communautaire sought for everything to be regulated in such a way and degree so that their interests could be served.
The globalisation of the economy, as it is being planned and formulated by the group of rich countries and the neo-liberal policies of the EU, helps big capital in promoting their goals. The attempt to liberalise everything for implementing allegedly free competition between businessmen deprives the middle strata of gained rights and creates conditions for the invasion of multinational companies into our island in co-operation with the local big capital.
Currently an attempt is being made to extend the opening hours for shops through the abolition of half-holidays and the afternoon break. The Law on sales is not monitored, causing anarchy in our retail trade, putting the protection of the professional shelter of small businesses in danger, whilst the technical occupations are facing serious unfair competition by non-entitled and non-qualified persons offering their technical services. The Party will support the small and small-medium businesses in solving the serious problems they face.
The duty of the Party and the Popular Movement regarding the middle strata is:
1. Reaffirm the similarity and affinity of interests of the middle strata with those of the working class and the farmers.
2. Contribute, through the party members from these strata, to the further growth of the middle strata organisations and branches, as well as to the examination, classification and prioritisation of their problems.
3. Present these problems to the relevant authorities inside and outside Parliament and to struggle with the middle strata for their just demands.
4. Lead and fight together with these strata so that the course of our country inside the EU and the completion of the harmonisation process will not negatively influence their standard of living.
5. In the formulation of the more general policy and tactics of the Party, their interests should also be taken carefully into account.
THE REFUGEE MOVEMENT AND THE REFUGEE PROBLEMSMISSING PERSONS-ENCLAVED-PEOPLE WHO SUFFERED FROM THE 1974 WAR
The organised refugee movement of the Pancyprian Refugee Committee (PRC) was born out of the ashes of the experience of being refugees and with the members and cadres of AKEL playing a leading role in its foundation. Through the correct work carried out by our cadres in the refugee movement, the refugees were supported during those first difficult years, whose priorities were the settlement of the housing problem and the reactivation and education of the refugees.
The PRC functioned with admirable zeal and energy until 1989 when the petty party expediencies exhibited by other political parties led to a discussion in the House of Representatives concerning the so-called question of the anti-democratic functioning of the PRC and in the end a law was passed which set out the operational conditions of the PRC.
The unwillingness and the refusal of other political parties, apart from AKEL, to move forward to the holding of general, immediate and universal elections among the refugee people for the election of the leadership severely damaged the PRC, which basically functioned only on the level of a secretariat and professional functionaries.
The last change made in the Legislation relating to the PRC and the appointment of new members to the Secretariat and a new President, we hope and believe will lead at last to the holding of elections so that the refugees can play their role and as a consequence support the refugee people.
The refugees are continuing their struggle, together with the rest of the Cypriot people and its leadership, for the solution of the problem due to the fact that the Cyprus problem remains unsolved.
Our position was and continues to be that we should secure satisfactory living conditions for the refugees, which is why the problems relating to accommodation, activation, education and the balanced distribution of economic burdens are among the priorities set by AKEL, together with the tackling of the daily problems faced by refugees.
The fact that the previous administration had accumulated various problems means that today we need even more efforts in order to tackle the serious problems which have been accumulated.
We are of the view that the situation concerning refugee matters during the Clerides administration was not adequately addressed, which is why we ascertain the following:
1. The refugee housing estates are full of old people.
2. The criteria, on which the refugee housing policy is based on, have remained the same as those of previous levels.
3. The subsidising of rents has remained on the same level as the previous ones.
4. The sum granted for repairing low cost houses built by refugees themselves remained at the levels they were beforehand with a small increase and do not cover all those who have benefited from the system of self-housing, including those who have built on private land.
5. The Central Agency for the Equal Distribution of Economic Burdens (CAEDEB) has managed to function correctly despite the fact that what is being done through the CAEDEB only regards the granting of loans on a low interest – rate.
The government of Change, in which our Party participates in, on coming to power, has changed the way of thinking and handling of refugee problems, shown its humanist approach and among other things has managed to do the following relating to refugees:
1. Increased the sums offered by the CAEDEB by 6 million pounds a year.
2. Brought back the Plan for the maintenance and repair of the Refugee Housing Settlements and the services regarding this question today function regularly to tackle the pressing problems of refugees.
3. AKEL has made a proposal which is expected to increase the help provided for the acquisition of a house by refugees.
4. Services which are dealing with the matters relating to the refugees have been strengthened in such a way so as to make these services more effective to the benefit of refugees.
5. Under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior a Consultative Committee is functioning with the participation of all the parliamentary parties and has studied all the housing plan policies for refugees. The Committee has come to a decision which, if adopted by both the Ministry of Finance and the Ministerial Council, will mean that the majority of the problems stated below will be solved or tackled in more satisfactory way.
Our Party, by continually remaining in touch with the refugee people, is working to solve the problems they face. Through representations made to the government but also through the relevant Parliamentary Committee where it puts forth a whole number of issues to be discussed, the Party helps refugees so that their living standards can be improved.
We propose the following for the solution of the problems faced by refugees:
1. The construction of new state housing estates to cover the needs of poor refugee families and especially of young couples.
2. Radical reconstruction and restructuring of the existing state housing estates.
3. Issuing title deeds to all those who legally occupy houses in estates and in self-housing estates and tackling the question of the unfair treatment which the Clerides government had handled this matter.
4. Intensifying the pace in which new plots for self-housing estates are divided and offering new plots, where that is possible, near to existing estates so that the children of refugees who live in the estates can be accommodated so that they can help in the cohesion of the families.
5. Substantially differentiate the income criteria for providing a ready-made housing unit in state estates in such a way which will cover, if possible, the whole section of poor families, who cannot acquire accommodation by any other means.
6. The scales of subsidising rents should drastically be changed so that they correspond to the current situation.
7. The sums provided for the repairing of low-cost housing in self-housing estates should be substantially increased so that they can meet the present costs of materials etc. and be widened in such a way that they will also cover the self-housing built on privately-owned plots.
8. The space saved in the Estates, which are being restructured, should be used to build modern flats for young couples, medical centres etc.
9. Appropriate green space, pavements and parking lots should be created in the Estates and measures should be taken to generally renew their appearance.
10. The work-teams of the District Administration Offices should be strengthened even more, so that they can intervene more quickly and essentially to improve the Turkish Cypriot houses and villages, improving both the urban and land-planning image of the areas and the quality of the buildings.
11. Immediate measures should be taken so that asbestos should be removed from schools, public offices and the Turkish Cypriot houses in a proper technical and scientific way in order to protect the health of people.
12. The incentives for the refugees who live in estates should be readjusted and strengthened so that they can be transferred to another home, if they so chose, a fact which will help to satisfy the needs families have to find accommodation in estates.
13. The restoration programmes and the solution of daily technical problems in estates should be strengthened.
14. Suitable manufacturing areas should be created to meet their professional needs of the refugees.
Agency for the Equal Distribution of Economic Burdens
1. We consider that the plans of the Agency for the purpose of a) medical treatment b) studies c) household utensils and d) occupational mobility are operating satisfactorily and efficiently.
2. The plan of the Agency to provide housing loans is operating with delay and despite the increase in the sums by 6 million pounds approved by the current government, the waiting time for the endorsement of the applications to the concrete plan has not been reduced. That is why the government is called upon to find quicker solutions so that the demand for housing can be satisfied.
3. The government and the Agency must look at the introduction of new plans for the essential rehabilitation of the credibility of the refugees based on their properties in the occupied areas.
The most tragic aspect of the Cyprus problem is the question of the missing persons. Despite the fact that this is viewed as a clear humanitarian issue by the Greek Cypriot side, nevertheless due to the unacceptable position taken by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership and the lack of determination on behalf of the United Nations on the question of the missing persons, the resolutions of the U.N. concerning the missing persons continue to be ignored and have still not been implemented.
On various occasions positions have been forward for the introduction of practical evidence of death and the categorisation of the missing persons, something which was rejected because it came into conflict with the principles of international law concerning missing persons but also with the real aim of finding out the truth about each and every missing person.
The agreement reached on the 31st of July 1997 concerning the detection and exhumation of graves where missing persons have been located has not been implemented yet.
The part of the decision of the 4th interstate appeal regarding the missing persons and the obligations of Turkey have also not been put into force, which is why the Republic of Cyprus is taking various actions aiming at Turkey’s conformity.
The Missing Persons Investigation Committee had for quite a few years reached a stalemate and has witnessed in the past one or two years some mobility on the issue but not in the pace it should be working and without up till now being able to provide any answers to even one family.
The Republic of Cyprus has moved on, with the help of specialists from abroad, with the exhumation of graves and the identification of the remains of Turkish Cypriot missing persons given that the Turkish Cypriot side will co-operate and will give the DNA tests for the completion of the DNA data bank, which is indispensable.
In the past year the Turkish Cypriot side has attempted to use the issue to help its policy on questions relating to the upgrading of the pseudo-state but the firm stand of the Greek Cypriot that the issue is humanitarian seems to be standing up to this policy.
It is a positive development that an interest has been shown by the Turkish Cypriots concerning their own missing persons on the level of families.
Currently a procedure is in place for exhumations in the occupied and free areas with the help specialists form abroad and both sides must co-operate with each other so that this can be made possible.
The issue of the missing persons must remain among the priorities of the Cyprus Government and serve the goal of continuously internationalising the matter so that, coupled with the involvement of States, Parliaments and humanitarian Organisations and Agencies, such pressure will be exercised on Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership which will lead to the real examination and verification of the fate of each and every missing person.
The number of Greek Cypriots and Maronites is constantly declining as a consequence of the policy of national cleansing which was implemented and as a result of the violations of human rights of the enclaved for a number of years.
Basic human rights of the enclaved such as freedom of movement, the safety of their lives, education, medical care, health, exercise of religious rights and others are not being implemented as the agreements but also the principles of the Charter of the United Nations state.
After the present government came to power it was possible to reopen the secondary school of Karpasia but also to tackle, due to the partial lifting of the obstacles for movement, various other problems, which our enclaved people are facing.
It is imperative that we continue on matters relating to the enclaved our efforts to convince the occupational authorities and the administration of the occupied areas to respect the rights of the enclaved, the agreements that they have signed, the Constitutional Charter of the U.N. but also the international agreements on human rights.
The Government should effectively tackle the problems both of the enclaved and their children who live in the occupied or free areas, laying special emphasis on the question of the pensions and benefits provided, home-care attention, repair of the residences of the enclaved, the education and employment of the children of the enclaved.
War stricken people
The families of people who died in the war, of missing persons and of war invalids, are constantly at the centre of AKEL’s attention. The Party took concrete and important initiatives inside and outside of parliament for the solution of the daily problems of war stricken people, but also for rendering the relevant moral and special honours which they deserve.
However various matters need to be addressed. As a consequence we propose and shall work for the following:
1. Society and the state have a duty to fully support the families of war stricken people and the invalids themselves. The question of the employment of the war stricken people should be viewed as a priority.
2. The Government should proceed to handing honorary distinctions and moral rewards to those who deserve it as the relative legislation stipulates. AKEL greets the actions of the Papadopoulos government in recognising the Resistance against fascism, the Junta and EOKA B and the bestowal of promotions and moral rewards to the resistance fighters. We call on the government to solve the problems which arose during the implementation of this creditable political decision.
3. The policy of supporting economically the war stricken people and the allowances granted should receive the proportional increase as in other cases where the state helps people.
4. Conveniences should be provided in education up till university level, for health care, home-care attention of those who have a need and generally there should be a continuous humane and social support of war stricken people.
5. The decision of the Government to create a monument for the heroes of the Resistance and Democracy as well as a monument in honour of those who gave their lives in the struggles of the Cypriot people should be implemented.
Large families are an important section of Cypriot society, especially in the effort to maintain demographic balances. AKEL throughout the years has shown a great sensitivity and contributed significantly in providing every possible assistance in tackling the many serious problems they face.
It has mainly contributed to put right a serious injustice concerning large families, which was imposed within the framework of the Tax Reform implemented by the previous government. The new regulation includes:
– The reintroduction of the age limit for the granting of child benefit to 25th and 23rd year for young men and women respectively.
– The granting of the large family benefit to those families that has reached or will reach the status of a large family after the 1st of January 2003.
– The revision of the ceiling of the basic child allowance and the keeping of the principle of income criteria for reasons of social justice.
Apart from the above AKEL has contributed to the further improvement of important gains such as the housing plan for lower income strata, which is functioning through the Land Development Agency, and other actions, that also are to the benefit of large families.
Quite a number of serious issues still remain unsolved. We will continue working towards their solution consistently. These are:
1. The broadening of the allowance for mothers. We welcome the government declaration that this right will also be granted to mothers of large families who receive social pension as a positive step forward. However we ascertain that by this specific decision, inequalities between mothers of large families are becoming even more acute, which is why we shall continue our efforts until the eradication of any injustices.
2. The increase in the allowance for children of large families who are serving in the National Guard.
3. The increase of the allowance for the purchase of a car.
4. The elaboration of a new price policy concerning electricity so as to take into account the increased needs of large families.
AKEL is working so that families with three children are granted the status of a large family, taking into account the fact that a family with three children is the basic family unit in our country.
At the same time AKEL, in evaluating that the demographic problem is currently one of the most serious issues in Cypriot society, supports and proposes the creation of a Unified Agency aiming at the formulation and the implementation of an all-round programme regarding Demographic Policy.
The Cooperative Movement
The Cooperative Movement is a great social gain of the people which has offered a lot to the country. AKEL not only led the way in the foundation of the movement, but also from the very first moment of its existence stood firmly by it’s the side, supporting its activity and development.
AKEL believes that the Cooperative Movement – despite the decades since its foundation- continues to play a very serious role, both in the economy and in Cypriot society in general.
We consider the Cooperative Movement as a social gain for the Cypriot people, which must be defended and strengthened even more.
AKEL ascertains that the Cooperative Movement in its effort to safeguard its gains and the interests of its members during the great stock exchange upheaval, but also to counter the great provocations of private capital, made moves and took decisions which, bearing in mind the financial-economic situation at that time, were correct and imperative but which subsequently it seems that the course taken did not manage to come under complete control.
It is imperative that measures should be taken as soon as possible to heal the wounds which have been created. We are sure that through the proper management and correct actions in the new conditions which have arisen, whatever values have perhaps been weakened can be reclaimed.
Today the Cooperative Movement is going through a new historical stage, due to the obligation to harmonise with the situation in the E.U. The full liberalisation and the credit sector, by removing at the same time the protective provisions which were related to the Cooperative Movement, has created a totally new situation in which the movement is called upon to carry out its activity. These new conditions are creating the need for serious structural changes, which we should think about very seriously.
The Cooperative Movement with its broadness, but also through its economic amplitude, needs to be very strict on matters concerning management, good governance and timely preventative control. It also needs a long-term plan so that it can create itself the indispensable protection from whatever attacks private capital and its representatives carry out against it.
Peace and Solidarity Movement
The question of defending peace is the most basic and burning duty of our times. The safeguarding of peace is not only a struggle against wars but also a struggle against the causes which provoke them. Peace is threatened and undermined by poverty, inequality, exploitation, the huge deficits in democracy, the aim of world supremacy for the promotion of the egoistical interests of the multinational monopolies, which in our times are being promoted by neo-liberal globalisation.
Barbarity and the logic of war, on which the American-inspired ´´new world order“ is based on, should be challenged so that human civilisation can have a future. The struggle of the peoples was always the most effective weapon against war. Today, at a time when imperialism seems to be unbeatable, the struggle of the peoples represents the counter-balance.
Today the world anti-war movement is on the upsurge. The mass anti-war upheaval which took place throughout the whole world and in the U.S.A and Great Britain itself against the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq is an example of this. This upheaval alarmed the war-mongers and at the same time showed the great possibilities the anti-war movement has to grow.
The world anti-war movement acts in parallel together with the world movement against neo-liberal globalisation and to a large degree co-exist within the framework of the World Social Forum. The slogans ´´No more blood for oil“, “People over profits“ and “Another world is possible“, which dominated many anti-war demonstrations, expressed the need to tackle the social causes, but also the social system itself which gives birth to wars.
The World Peace Council also represents a component part of the anti-war movement, which in the past few years has began to reconstruct itself and slowly but surely recovering its forces and developing notable activity.
The peace movement is broad and contains within it many different voices. The Left supports and participates in it, contributing to the better organisation and proper orientation in its goals and content of activity. AKEL fulfils this task in practise, leading the struggle for peace and anti-imperialist solidarity. The anti-imperialist and anti-war element of AKEL`s activity emanates from its ideology and is a major part of its policy as a whole.
AKEL participates and supports the activity of the Pancyprian Peace Council which it has built strong relations with, forged in many years of common struggles and mobilisations for the triumph of peace in Cyprus and the world, the abolition of the foreign military bases and the complete demilitarisation of the island and for the development of solidarity with the fighting peoples for national independence, freedom, freedom and social progress.
AKEL supports the Pancyprian Peace Council (PPC) in its efforts to upgrade its activity and values the upgrading which has been achieved the past few years. The Party shares the basic parameters of the struggle of the PPC, which are the resistance to the imperialist new world order, the struggle against war, for a peaceful and just solution to the international problems, for world disarmament. The safeguarding of world peace and the triumph of justice can be achieved through the consistent and determined support of the principles of international law and the international organisations which serve them and first of all of the United Nations.
AKEL participates and supports the activity of the Solidarity Committee (EPAL) for solidarity with the struggling peoples against the designs of imperialism and is marching together with this movement offering support and solidarity with the peoples of Palestine, Cuba, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and others.
AKEL, in striving to achieve the mass involvement of people through unity and broad co-operation of various forces against the war, has decisively contributed to the foundation of the Cypriot Social Forum in 2002 and is taking part in its actions.
Our homeland due to social, economic and political reasons should have as its goal the repatriation of a significant section of Cypriots abroad. We should turn our attention to the scientific personnel of Cypriots living abroad but also to the first generation of Cypriots abroad. The state must tackle the problems with interest and sensitivity and provide incentives for encouraging Cypriots abroad to return to Cyprus and settle permanently. Apart from the general problems of learning the language, education, military service, health care treatment where some steps have been made, the serious problems such as employment, quick procedures of obtaining naturalisation without bureaucratic obstacles remain, as well as issues regarding the distribution and special state subsidy for the first generation of Cypriots abroad, whose low pensions do not enable them to buy their own house.
The affection towards repatriated Cypriots, their acceptance and reintegration into Cypriot society in respectable living conditions is the duty of society and our people. Those who were forced during difficult times to immigrate need to be encouraged to return and contribute to the development of Cyprus.
AKEL knows the problems and will provide any help and support to our repatriated compatriots.
Cypriots abroad are a component part of the Cypriot people who have for many years been fighting for the rights of the struggle of our people and the projection of Cyprus throughout the world.
Despite the efforts which have been made, more briefing and a better co-ordination of Cypriots abroad is needed in order to use their services to a greater degree in the efforts to promote the Cyprus problem and the enlightenment of political forces, especially in the countries which represent important decision-making centres. The contribution of Cypriots abroad in the struggle we are waging at the present phase of the Cyprus problem is of particular importance, which is why they should be briefed on a more organised basis.
Our Party has branches in Britain and Greece and strives to maintain close relations with our brothers living abroad, especially in the countries where big Cypriot communities are to be found, such as America and Australia.
Consultant on questions relating to Cypriots abroad and repatriated Cypriots
The restructuring which has taken place in the Service for Cypriots Abroad whilst it has contributed to the improvement of the service, nevertheless there is a pressing need to appoint a Consultant on questions relating to Cypriots abroad and repatriated Cypriots. He or she should be a politically involved person and supervise the Service for Cypriots abroad. At the same time he or she should constitute the main link with the Consultative Committee.
The Consultant on questions of Cypriots abroad should give more effective time for a better co-ordination and the goal should be the better utilisation of Cypriots abroad and helping the solution of various problems which they face in their country of residence.
Consultative Committee for Cypriots Abroad
– The proposal of the President of the Republic for the establishment of a Consultative Committee for Cypriots Abroad should be implemented which will co-operate closely with the Ministry of Interior and will be in touch with the President of the Republic on a regular basis for the co-ordination, activity and utilisation of Cypriots Abroad and for the better projection and promotion of the enlightment on the Cyprus problem. It will co-operate with the organisations of Cypriots abroad and contribute so that they will operate at selective levels as a Lobby in support of the Cypriot positions.
– The Consultative Committee of Cypriots Abroad in co-operation with the Service for Cypriots Abroad should provide for the elaboration of programmes by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the development of educational and cultural activities, which will address themselves to Cypriots abroad and their communities for the teaching of the Greek and Turkish language and the struggle to maintain and project our Cultural Heritage.
– The strengthening of the ties between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots abroad needs to be promoted even more decisively. A special policy regarding the relations with Turkish Cypriots abroad and the tackling of their problems needs to be elaborated.
– The Turkish Cypriots abroad face the same and perhaps more problems than the rest of the Cypriots. The appointment of Turkish Cypriots in the Embassies and Consulates, as in the case of the High Commission in Britain, will help in the promotion and solution of their problems.
The young Cypriots Abroad
The first generation of the last wave of immigration was created by the tragic events of 1974 either directly (refugees) either indirectly (the search for work and education) is the one which is makes up the leadership of the organisations of Cypriots abroad, which have been formed during the past 30 years. Their participation in socio-political affairs is coming to an end and that is why the foundation of the Youth of the World Federation of Cypriots Abroad (P.O.M.A.K.), the Youth Branches of the Federations and the local club organisations represent a proper and creative outlet. However this is not enough because the young generation which was born and grew up in their second homelands do not have the same experiences and are not attracted by the same reflections and thoughts. The organisations of the Cypriots Abroad must acquire a more professional and scientifically organised character. They should function in close co-operation with the Youth Agency of Cyprus, with full-time staff and follow more well-studied programmes and activities which will reflect the wishes and profile of the young generation.
AKEL has supported on many occasions the position that the country needs a political, social and economic reformation as a starting point for the modernisation of our political and administrative system.
Within this framework an innovative decentralisation policy is imperative, coupled with the institutional integration of local self-government. This concept of ours does not limit itself to a simple transformation of competence and funds but has to do with a wide-ranging redistribution of political and economic power. Furthermore local self-government is called upon today to undertake new roles- political, social, development, cultural. It is called upon to contribute to the overcoming of the more general crisis of society, supporting people in their daily life, taking part in the social changes that are needed
Cyprus is called upon to adopt in practise the European Treaty of Local Self-Government and to adapt its structures to European standards, using the possibilities opened up by our accession to the European Union. It is called upon support Local Self-government so that it can become a mechanism for planning and programming of development and an agency for the implementation of projects and actions in the interest of the local society.
It is with satisfaction that we observe the Government of Change promoting in this direction a series of commitments, which had been outlined in the Programme such as the study of the institutional modernisation, beginning with the creation of a Joint Urban Planning Authority, the establishment of the custom of Public Hearings concerning a number of procedures, the creation of an infrastructure for the fully integrated management of solid waste and the acceleration of the creation of drainage systems, especially in communities, the introduction of the obligation to include bicycle roads in large urban projects and others. It is a cause of concern that a real redistribution of funds from central and local power has still not been promoted and as a consequence many local authorities find it impossible to fulfil their basic duties.
AKEL will continue to fight for:
– The modernisation and upgrading of the institution as well as the strengthening of the autonomy of Local Self-Government;
– The safeguarding and protection of its financial independence as a precondition of the drafting of technical infrastructure and development programmes on the basis of local needs and criteria;
– to institutionalise the co-operation of similar or neighbouring Municipalities and Communities in offering services but also in drafting development policies;
– The broadening of citizens´ participation in the procedures of local self-government and development as a precondition for democratic decentralisation.
At the same time we consistently support and encourage every effort for town planning restructuring, the protection and development of the environment and the creation of new terms of contribution to culture, sports, and social welfare.
To achieve these objectives we seek consensus and common action with the other political forces, as well as the direct participation of the people in the management of local affairs by different means and ways. As AKEL we would like to see Local self-government being transformed as the institution of power which is closest to the ordinary citizen.
For years the elected representatives of AKEL in local self-government have carried out a rich activity based on the logic that the town and its functions must serve the people themselves and not individual interests, that the main goal should be the building of cities geared towards the needs of people. We strive to continually improve our own intervention and presence in Local Self-Government, thus reaffirming on a daily basis the militant feature and people-orientated approach of our Party.
Education and the education system
The lack of vision and goals, absence of dialogue, improvisation, introduction of changes without planning and preparation, freezing of expenditures and the neo-liberal policies constituted the main elements of the ten year administration of DISY.
The social role of the state in education was limited due to the neo-liberal economic policy of holding down public expenditure which the government of the conservative Right was implementing.
At the same time the education system with regard to management, the methods and content of teaching, the assessment of teachers and school students has remained confined within conservative centralised structures and backward mentalities.
As a result this policy has led to the accumulation of dangerous deadlocks in the education system. The percentages of functional illiteracy and school failure, apart from leading to educational marginalisation, are also the cause of many other social problems. Substitute education has become a cancer which transfers the main focus of learning from school to the private tuition centre, burdening the family budget and vanishing the recreation time of school students. The material and technical infrastructure of schools is insufficient and the huge deficiencies are creating suffocating conditions for both teachers and students.
When the government of change came to power in 2003 this was the situation in general terms of public education in Cyprus.
AKEL has for many years set the aim of overcoming the impasses and crisis affecting the Cypriot Educational System. A radical reform of the educational system is needed through radical changes both in its structure and content so that it can meet the contemporary needs and challenges of our times. AKEL is striving for a reform that will challenge conservatism, anachronism and backwardness on all fronts, bringing in a new age and changing the system.
The government of change, by putting into practise its pre-election commitments, is promoting the vision and strategy for an extensive Educational Reform, which will embrace all the levels of education.
The report of the Committee of University Specialists on the educational reform aiming at a ´´democratic and human-centred education“, represents the first step in the implementation of the declaration of the government programme for an all-round and broad reform of the educational system.
We consider that the report in general terms corresponds to the positions and proposals which AKEL has put forward all of these years. It projects a comprehensive proposal for a progressive and radical educational reform. It deepens and elaborates in a scientific manner all the proposals which are contained in the programme of the government. It deals with crucial issues and proposals, setting out concrete suggestions which deal with every aspect of the education system. It formulates proposals for radical changes in the structure and content covering all levels of the educational system, but also for a more democratic and flexible administration. It expresses our vision for a public, democratic and human-centred education with a multi-cultural content, which will offer the same opportunities of education and enable everyone to have the same possibility to succeed.
Today an open, structured and social dialogue is taking place regarding the implementation of the educational reform through the Education Council, the Primary and Secondary School Council and the Higher Education Council, which for the first time have been institutionalised through legislation. The Parliamentary Parties, teachers and social organisations, and for the first time ever representatives of the school pupils´ and student movement, are participating in these Councils, which play an energetic role in the formulation of educational policy.
Significant steps have been taken by the government of change in the effort to implement pre-election commitments.
Public, free and obligatory Pre-school primary education has been institutionalised through legislation for all children and the state has undertaken the task of paying for the whole cost of repairing and functioning of public Nurseries.
The number of school students in every classroom in all forms of the Primary and 3rd Lyceum School has been reduced.
The establishment of Zones of Educational Priorities in 3 regions is being implemented to tackle school failure.
The institution of the ´´all-day school´´ has not only been extended quantitatively from 80 to 125 primary schools, but the programme has been qualitatively improved and is being implemented in a pilot probationary fashion in 12 schools for the children of all classes. Soon a study will be completed and the dialogue initiated is due to come to an end so that the “all-day school“ will be implemented throughout the primary school system and extended to the pre-school and secondary school system, as the government has declared in its programme.
In the Secondary Education system, apart from the changes which have been implemented, a debate is being conducted today on the promotion of a radical change at the lyceum level and in the examination system so that substitute education can be tackled and more outlets and prospects can be offered to school students.
The University of Cyprus is being expanded with new faculties, departments and new programmes, increasing the number of students and upgrading the quality its work.
As far as University Education is concerned a provisional Administrative Committee of the new Technological University has been appointed, which in a short period of time has prepared a comprehensive programme, employed its first personnel and is expected to begin construction so that by September 2007 it will be in a position to receive the first students.
The Student Card has been passed through legislation, a constant demand of the student movement through the years.
AKEL considers that the implementation of the programme in the field of education should be promoted more decisively and at a faster rate. The goals put for the implementation of the Educational Reform are quite ambitious. These are goals which AKEL should fight for on all fronts so that they can be put into practise.
These goals are:
1. The transformation of the Cypriot school, not into a school in the service of the market economy, but a democratic school that serves society as a whole, a democratic school of the citizen.
2. Public education should be viewed as a social and public possession.
3. A democratic school which functions for the social integration of all children and for combating the dropping-out of the system and social exclusion.
4. The removal of the narrow-minded ethnocentric, culturally one-dimensional and consequently nationalist elements.
5. The integration of the inter-cultural and multi-cultural education of the citizen into the general goals, which will combine the Cypriot traditions with the knowledge of the culture of other peoples.
6. The enhancement of human-centred education in the broader sense of the term where general education and technical vocational education represent an essential unified unit.
7. The expansion of public, free and obligatory education from the age of 10 to 12 years old.
8. The unification of the 10 year education period through the formulation of a 10 year general teaching unit.
9. The unification of General Education and Technical Vocational Education into a new form of Lyceum (the “Comprehensive Lyceum “, which offers the opportunity to choose individual subjects instead of a set programme of subjects), which will combine general and technical vocational education organically. The Comprehensive Lyceum will provide a sound general humanist education and at the same time a technical vocational education by offering a range of studies (humanitarian, natural sciences, technological, economic) and vocational guidance.
10. The establishment of a new type of school certificate and a new system of admission to Universities.
11. The extension of public University Education.
12. The establishment of academically high-level Private Universities with a non-profitable character, which will safeguard academic freedoms and the rights of students and academic staff.
13. The review and modernisation of the content of education (analytical programmes, books).
14. The introduction of new methods of teaching.
15. The creation of Public Post-Lyceum Centres for Vocational Specialisation and Training.
16. Strengthening the lesson of “educating” the citizen.
17. The cultivation of a critical outlook and humanitarian values.
18. The introduction of the Turkish Language into the Lyceum curriculum.
19. Programmes encouraging co-operation with schools of the Turkish Cypriot community.
20. Common education programmes for Greek and Turkish Cypriot teachers.
21. The review of history books, aiming at the teaching of the contemporary history of Cyprus in a comprehensive and objective way.
22. Continued (life-long) study programmes for teachers.
24. Implementation of anti-racist education programmes.
For AKEL the entire progressive reform of the educational system on the basis of the vision of a contemporary, democratic-public education and the free access to education for all to all levels of the education system, constitute the necessary preconditions for the modernisation of society, the upgrading in the quality of life, the evasion of educational-social marginalisation and the alleviation of social and educational inequalities.
Culture has a special place in the activity of the Party. Culture forms the spiritual, artistic, material and moral values of the people, develops their aesthetic criteria, formulates role-models and improves their quality of life.
All these processes taking place mould the human personality and result in the respect to everything that is important and worthy that culture has to offer on a local, national and universal level. At the same time, it formulates the attitude of people towards nature, their respect of other peoples and to people with a different tradition, history and culture.
All of the above-mentioned represent for the Party a serious parameter and a powerful weapon of resistance and action in confronting the continuing occupation and strong attack and pressure which our people are facing from the commercialisation of art, the extreme consumerism and the vulgarisation of human dignity, which have profit, the bending of human resistance and the attempt to disorientate people from the problems they face, as their primary goals.
In the period between the 19th and 20th Congresses, our cultural activity has continued and developed further through a rich, all-round activity on different levels of intellectual and artistic creation.
We took many initiatives and held many cultural events with a high artistic level. We have carried out a rich publishing activity in the field of study, literature and poetry through pioneering publications such as those that have recorded Cypriot poets (Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot) on compact discs. We have continued during this period to have a creative and on-going dialogue with the peoples of Letters and the Arts. Through this dialogue we have solved quite a number of problems with the help of our Parliamentary Group and Government Organisations. At the same time we had a substantive intervention promoting the interests of cultural creators and of the working people in various sectors of art (theatre, dance, music and others).
The election of Tassos Papadopoulos to the Presidency of the Republic created the preconditions for an essential cultural activity. Our Party by putting forward concrete proposals has contributed substantially to the formulation of the programme of the Government and to the area of Culture. After the election of the President we took many initiatives for the implementation of the government programme. We have ascertained that the Government is neglecting culture and displaying an immobility and indecisiveness in the implementation of the government programme.
AKEL will continue with the same determination and activity to project its positions in the area of Culture, on the basis of the programme which was agreed upon with the government but also on the basis of the congress and other decisions taken by the Party. That is why we should persist in our proposals which are the following:
1. The establishment of a Unified Cultural Authority;
2. Foundation of a Cultural Heritage Archive;
3. The participation of cultural artists in the decisions which concern culture;
4. The creation of a Pool of Cultural Contribution;
5. The establishment of a Cultural Council;
6. The reorganisation of the Cyprus Theatre Organisation and other.
AKEL believes that Culture should become one of the main priorities of the State and one of the major component parts of our defence but also of its development, against the occupation and sub-culture.
To achieve this aim more financial resources should be made available for cultural structure and development. Local self-government should be decisively helped in the field of culture and a Culture of education should be promoted, especially through educational programmes.
The accession of Cyprus to the European Union offers important opportunities for projecting our Culture to European countries and at the same time through correct political decisions and handlings we can turn Cyprus into a European cultural centre in the Eastern Mediterranean and a bridge of cultural activity with neighbouring countries of different cultures.
All the members and especially the cadres of the Party should be conscious of the great and defining role which the Arts, Letters, and Culture in general, can play in the struggle of our people for freedom, social justice and education.
The journal “Nea Epochi“ (New Era) is well respected among the people of arts and letters both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots but also more broadly.
An effort should be made to increase the circulation of the journal with more subscribers, especially among party members, laying emphasis on young people.
We ascertain that the newspaper “Haravgi“ (Dawn) has significantly improved its cultural pages, both in its form and content. This should be continued and enriched even more. At the same time the special offers relating to culture that the newspaper from time to time presents to its readers are also helpful to Culture.
After the partial lifting, by the occupational regime, of the ban to cross to and from the occupied areas, the Party has systematically created a basis for a dialogue with people involved in Culture within the Turkish Cypriot community, aiming to organise joint cultural meetings, discussions and various other events and the acquaintance with the cultural activity, mutual understanding and common action between the two communities.
AKEL considers the co-operation with Turkish Cypriot artists an important asset for the unification of our island. That is why the cultural meetings and activities with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots should continue with a greater intensity for the common interest of our country.
The institutes in the health sector do not produce goods for consumption but provide precious services and are carrying out a social mission. The wider health sector should maintain a strong two-way relationship with society in order to adequately fulfil its work.
An effective and efficient health system should inevitably be socially just, be in a position to offer health care to the whole population, safeguard equal opportunities for access to health services to all citizens, be effective, make full use of the existing staff, limit the waste of resources and safeguard the quality of healthcare treatment by offering incentives to personnel.
The health sector does not rely on the unlimited use of economic resources.
The health sector in Cyprus is in a bad state. The public sector is facing a number of serious problems which have been caused by the conscious decisions of the previous government and also as a result of attacks made by those forces which always strove to undermine the public sector. At the same time the strategic development plan of the private sector is absent.
The state should cover in an organised way the existing gaps and decisively limit the admission of socially-uncontrollable and profit -orientated big capital in the health sector.
The National Health Plan (NHP) should provide free, high quality treatment to all citizens.
It should safeguard the right of the patient to be treated by the doctor and Clinic of their choice.
Until the beginning of the implementation of the NHP we should deal with the urgent matters relating to the smooth functioning and development of hospitals or set in motion solutions as preparatory measures for the implementation of the NHP.
We propose an all-round study and position on the possibility of operating trusts in the health sector as a form of socialised non-state nursing institutions based on purely non-profit objectives.
The agreement to establish the Cyprus Ontological Centre of the Bank of Cyprus represents an unbalanced settlement to the detriment of the state on the one hand and the parallel taking of responsibility to cover the operation and repair costs by the state on the other. Despite the covering of the operational costs of the establishment by the state resources, the administrative responsibility of the state is reduced and practically non-existent. The absence of support medical services at the Ontological Centre such as an operation clinic and laboratory infrastructure is creating dangerous deficiencies concerning the daily provision of medical care.
The unequal fee of employees in the sector in comparison with the established acceptable levels in the public sector is creating a hopeless and dangerous situation. The Institute of Neurology and Genetics is also facing similar problems regarding funding but also the control in the disposal and utilisation of economic resources and on administrative matters.
In the two years since the election of Tassos Papadopoulos to the Presidency and the participation of AKEL in the administration of the country many efforts have been made to improve the situation.
The fixing and control of prices of medicine, the restructuring of the Anti-Drugs Council, the acceleration in the pace of completion and functioning of the New Nicosia Hospital and others are characteristic examples of these efforts.
On the initiative of the Parliamentary Group of AKEL – Left – New Forces the income criteria for obtaining the hospital expenses card have been improved.
However one of our goals is still the acceleration of the procedures to start the implementation of a well-structured programme for the NHP. With the surpassing of the economic problems the NHP, as the biggest promise made to society as a whole, must finally be implemented.
The battle against drugs
The curse of drugs is a complex psycho-social problem. It is a simplification to view the problem as only a clear individual, psychological or medical problem, which in itself can lead to approaching the issue in a dangerous way.
The history and process of the use of drug substances is directly linked to the history and development of our social system and has a direct relationship with the economic, social and political framework in which the personalities of young people, their values and role-models are developing. We live in a social reality in which money is presented as the supreme value and its acquisition by any lawful and unlawful means is regarded as the supreme goal. We live in a social reality which is characterised by a crisis of values and institutions, by phenomena such as decay and corruption, where an intense and merciless competition in social relations is prevalent. We live in a social reality which is increasingly intensifying the phenomena of loneliness and a lack of communication.
On the other hand the squalor of entire countries in the international division of labour is transforming them into countries where drugs are produced and drug substances transported.
The spread and use of drug substances does not only concern some small marginal groups but it has already taken on broader social dimensions.
Our proposal is based on a web of measures for the prevention, therapy and suppression of drug trading, with the main emphasis on prevention:
1. The detection and acceptance of the social character of the problem.
2. Prevention policy should view the matter of correctly informing people as one of its constituent parts.
3. To shape mature personalities among young people we need to create the necessary preconditions. Our philosophy is based on the shielding of young people through values, ideals and visions capable of creating barriers of resistance so that they can stand up to drugs in such a way so as fewer young people as possible do not fall into the trap of drugs.
4. We are totally against those opinions that propose that a differentiation should be made between “soft´´ and hard drugs, but which also propose their legalisation.
5. Immediate measures must be taken for the upgrading of free public education for all and tackling of unemployment, especially among young people.
6. The development of amateur cultural activity with the creation of more general purpose recreation centres and the direct and dynamic involvement of local self-government should be seen as important tasks.
7. Special educational programmes for teachers, parents, judges and other interested parties in the entire effort should be formulated.
8. The creation and formulation of special therapeutic youth hostels and specialist individualised and group therapy and rehabilitation programmes must be continued so that no addict should be locked up in well known prisons.
9. A review of the legislation should be carried out so that the attention will be directed towards drugs dealers and not towards addicts.
10. The further intensification of the work of the Anti Drug Council by the continuous study, observation of the phenomenon through scientifically documented studies.
AKEL and the progressive forces in general, are in the forefront and will continue to be in the forefront of the struggle against drugs by mobilising its forces within local self-government, the agencies and youth organisations, organised parents and all the other voluntary social organisations.
The further promotion and development of Sport and its utilisation as a constituent part of the development of the individual, but also of society in general is an indisputable necessity in the current conditions that have been formulated in our country, where the intensification of social contradictions and problems, crime, drugs and sub-culture, the desire to make quick profit and become rich instantly, have all been rendered a regular feature of everyday life and have undermined principles, values and ideals.
AKEL, since its foundation and on a continuous and solid basis, attached and still attaches great importance to the role that Sport can play in the development of society in general and improvement in the living standard of people. This is the reason why its participation all of these years in the proper organisation, cultivation and development of Sports in our country has been and remains particularly important.
The establishment, on the initiative of the Popular Movement and our Party, of Cultural and Athletic Local Clubs was a landmark in the social development of our country and in the cultivation and promotion of Sport.
In the years that followed, sport achieved noticeable progress with the contribution of our Party and had significant successes on a local and European level.
However despite this progress the infrastructure and organisation of our Sports and its further promotion and development has important shortcomings and weaknesses.
The upgrading of our representation in the Cyprus Sports Federation (KOA) and the appointment of staff in many sub-committees of KOA, but also in other sports agencies of personalities from the political spectrum of the Left, have allowed us for the first time to have a greater role in the formulation and promotion of a policy concerning sport in our country but also at the same time puts very serious responsibilities and duties on our shoulders regarding the further progress of Sports in our country.
What are our goals and objectives?
1. Mass participation in Sports
Sport is an activity which aims to involve all people irrespective of their sex, age or social origin. That is why our Party has worked and is working towards the creation of the necessary and proper sport infrastructure and the promotion of the appropriate programmes, so that the broad masses of our people can have the possibility and the easy access to daily sport exercise.
At present the new Council of KOA is working towards this direction of expanding the “Sport for All“ programme and has announced its programme for Social Sport, which aims at the creation, through the energetic participation of Local Authorities, of small and simple sports grounds in neighbourhoods and communities that will have as an objective their transformation into small hives of sports activity for all the population.
2. Competitive Sports
The participation of our athletes in international sport meetings and the very good results which we have achieved the past few years, make the need for a better planning and organisation of High performance Sports even more imperative, which should be combined with the proper scientific and economic support so that even better results can be achieved which project our country internationally and at the same time functions as an incentive to attract more young people to Sports, with all the positive consequences this can have for our society.
3. School Sports and the National Guard
A continuous retreat is being observed in this field, a fact which is of particular concern, bearing in mind that tomorrows energetic citizens of the country are being brought up and educated in these places. Our children and young people in their great majority devote all of their recreation time to various other activities instead of becoming involved in Sports.
The Ministry of Education mainly, the National Guard and other competent agencies must study deeply the phenomenon and promote measures which will help in the effort to inject Sports dynamically into schools and army camps. It is necessary to prepare suitable sports programmes and closely follow their implementation. The organisation and promotion of school/college/university sports meetings and championships and similar activities in the National Guard should also be enhanced.
4. Club Sports
As it has already been mentioned, the Local Clubs were for many years and still are today, the organised places in which Sports were cultivated in an all-round way. However in the past few years a decrease in their sports activity is being noted. Many Clubs have dissolved their football teams and developed activity in other types of sport, whilst many others are not active any more in any sports activity whatsoever and are in decline.
Our Party is already conducting a relevant research in order to ascertain the reasons why our Clubs are to a large extent inactive and to study ways of reversing the phenomenon. Irrespective of the findings of the research there is no doubt that the survival of the Clubs will demand an increased economic support and help both from the State and the relevant Local Authorities, so that the alleviation of the problems they face will be possible.
However it must be noted that the Clubs taking part in the major football, basketball and volleyball championships have been transformed into professional clubs and have exceeded their budgets well beyond the economic capability of our country. Despite the fact that we support the state allocation of funds to Sport, we cannot agree that this state funding should be channelled to cover deficits which have been created by these expenditures, but that it should be channelled into Sport development programmes e.g. academies, sport grounds and premises etc.
5. Sports Federations and Gymnastic Clubs
For many years the Sports Federations and Gymnastics Clubs operated in a way that served personal ambitions, party or economic interests and not the great mass of athletes.
We believe that the time has finally come for the modernisation and complete democratisation of our Sports legislation, the adoption by all the Federations and Sports Agencies of modern democratic statutes governing their functioning and the introduction of a policy of total openness, both regarding the election of their guiding bodies and also the functioning of their economic management.
6. Sport Justice
Sports Justice must be upgraded in such a way so as it could be in a position to immediately and effectively deal with various issues which concern sports matters and to designate justly and objectively responsibilities and obligations to those who have broken sports legislation and rules.
The correct manning of the sport judicial bodies, the establishment of a sports court and the well-documented and uniform administration of justice, will add prestige to the institution and increase the trust of the public in the sports clubs which over the past few years has been undermined.
7. Economic management of Sports
The continually increasing state funding of Sports Clubs and their sport agencies, the investment of quite a few million pounds into infrastructure work and the allocation of important items in the budget to various programmes and plans for the development of Sport, demand the exercise of an essential and effective control over these budget items, so that extravagant and unnecessary expenditure can be avoided and that the economic resources which are provided should be channelled exclusively and only to the achievement of the goals which have been set.
8. The creation of a Sport infrastructure
We believe that the existence of the necessary sport infrastructure is an important precondition for the development of Sport. A significant amount of work has been done in this area and quite a few modern sports premises have been built which, together with the sports arenas in schools, satisfy a great part of our basic needs. It is however time to review our priorities on this matter and to promote a more just distribution of the sports premises on a pancyprian level, laying emphasis on the countryside where it is necessary to construct small but functional premises to serve a great number of athletes.
9. Sports Education and Adult-education
We consider that the complexity of sport issues and the rapid developments taking place daily in this field, together with the need to scientifically and medically support athletes, make the scientific proficiency of Sport officials and their continuous education absolutely imperative today, through the organisation of classes, seminars, lectures etc., which will at the same time also be directed to other people who are involved in Sport.
10. Struggle against drug-related substances
Doping during the last few years has taken on dangerous dimensions and the cases which are being traced in the field of Sport, competitive or otherwise, are increasing on a daily basis. Despite the fact that many efforts are being made in combating the phenomenon, a better organisation of the agencies involved on the matter, greater control in the distribution of substances and grounds where our young people are exercising, as well as a scientifically organised, preventative and educational campaign in stopping the use of these substances is needed.
11. Struggle against violence in sports grounds
Despite the efforts which have been made in the preventative tackling of violence in sports grounds, in which our Party had an energetic participation, this social phenomenon continuous to appear regularly in our sports grounds with all the bitter consequences.
The repressive measures, which the state has taken many times to face the phenomenon, have not yielded any effective results and that is why our position that a continuous preventative and multidimensional policy on the issue, which should also include proper sociological approaches, remains unchanged.
12. Sport and rapprochement
The developments on the political problem in our country make the need today to examine also in the field of Sport the possibilities which exist for the co-operation of the two communities and the holding of joint sports events even more pressing, which will bring the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots together again. A number of such joint events have already been organised, however Sport without doubt by its very nature unites people, can offer us a lot more and help significantly in the reunification of our island.
Ecology and the Environment
“We did not inherit our planet from our parents, we simply borrowed it from our children“. This quotation merely states that individual prosperity cannot be achieved as a result of the selfish exploitation of nature and of other people. Who can deny today that the process of building an environment “centred on man“ has been underestimated or that the relationship of the human race with the totality of the other species and the eco-system which surrounds them has been totally neglected? With the development especially of capitalism the competition between society and nature has been expressed in a devastating way.
The issues of ecological crisis are now at the top of the agenda throughout the world but also among societies in Europe. Unfortunately instead of witnessing a change in the way of thinking and action, the trend which is dominant today is the creation of market mechanisms for the management of the pollution rights which lead the poorest countries to use their environmental resources as their final exchangeable merchandise, dramatically damaging their future but also the future of the whole planet.
The development model which was also implemented in Cyprus after independence followed international trends. Environmental problems intensified as a result of the invasion and continued occupation, the unnatural separation of the Cypriot eco-system, uncontrollable growth but also as a result of the lack of a correct and comprehensive state policy for many years.
In Cyprus in the past few years there has been a notable sensitisation of public opinion concerning ecological issues. AKEL has contributed towards this direction through analyses, proposals, campaigns which did not end only with some general expression of wishes. They are based on an overall critical approach of the development procedure in alliance with the movements against neo-liberal globalisation, which are campaigning for ´´another world which is possible“ and with active citizens “who think globally and act locally“.
The actions of the government of Change are playing an important role in promoting a model of sustainable development in the direction of strengthening the legislative framework concerning the protection of the environment and the modernisation of the structures of environmental management but also in the promotion of specialised issues such as the elaboration of plans for a comprehensive management of solid and dangerous waste, the use of alternative forms of energy and others, despite the fact that progress has not been as fast as we would have liked due mainly to the accumulated problems, the time-consuming procedures and the high-costs involved.
The basic goals of our activity as AKEL are the following:
– The creation of effective mechanisms for the control and following of the implementation of environmental legislation and policy and the option to take financial measures which will serve this purpose.
– The establishment of credible procedures, comprehensive studies regarding the environmental consequences both during the planning and before the implementation of projects and the establishment of procedures which will encourage the participation of citizens in the formulation and implementation of environmental policy.
– The radical revision of our outlook on the character of cities as the first step in tackling the continued degrading in the quality of life in these areas. The cities are much more than the simple addition of people and space. They contain a unique aesthetic and culture which needs protection through the modernisation and application of the rules of urban development.
– The promotion of a policy of rejuvenating the countryside with the creation of suitable conditions for the development of the agricultural but also generally of the rural economy aiming at the protection of the natural environment. The recognition of the multi-functional role of the farmer and the taking of measures to consolidate this role will enhance this policy.
– Finally, the orientation of Education in the direction of making citizens sensitive about culture and our historical tradition, the understanding of the values of a different way of life and in general the encouragement of the participation of citizens in the formulation and exercise of environmental policy is another important goal.
AKEL appreciates in particular the development of an organised environmental movement in our country, expressed through the Federation of Environmental and Ecological Organisations. It considers the movement’s contribution and activity as being positive, and will seek also in the future to strengthen the co-operation with the Federation on the basis of common aims.
The 20th Pancyprian Congress of AKEL will take place at a time when we will be celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Communist Party of Cyprus-AKEL. This historical anniversary puts before us the duty to hold a congress worthy of the history, struggles and service of our Party. We are proud of our history and the current militant struggles of our Party. It is an honour for our Party and for every member of AKEL that the most noble ideals and visions of our people, their most noble aspirations about the future of the country and its prosperity – material and intellectual – are expressed by the Progressive Party of the Working People.
The “Theses for the 20th Congress“ constitutes a paper, a document, which expresses the approaches, policy, experience and activity of AKEL and at the same time projects the specialised work being carried out by the Auxiliary Bureaus, other sections of the Party and the Party as a whole.
The formulation of the guiding lines of our policy for the next five year period in view of the congress is one of the most important stages in party life, which vividly proves that it is the Party members who are the true masters in AKEL. The Central Committee of AKEL sets before the party membership the “Theses for the 20th Congress“, which was adopted by the Plenary Session of the C.C. on the 12th July 2005. It calls upon every member to study it carefully and participate in the discussion which will follow, both in the local Party group meetings and through the public dialogue in our daily newspaper “Haravgi“. The Central Committee is confident that the views expressed by the party members will enrich and strengthen the “Theses“.
The Central Committee presents at the same time the “Theses for the 20th Congress“ to the Cypriot people for consideration and judgement. We are ready to discuss the “Theses“ with society itself. We invite and seek this dialogue in an effort to contribute to the greatest possible extent to the two-way communication which should exist between the political parties and society and of course to the common effort of all Cypriots for a better future for our homeland.
The Central Committee expresses the conviction that the pre-congress dialogue and the work towards the Congress in general will lead to a truly successful Congress, which will put its mark on the further course of AKEL but on the Cypriot socio-political landscape.
AKEL looks to the future with confidence, optimism and sureness. Whatever problems and difficulties may arise, the Cypriot people have shown that they have the force to face the difficulties and solve the problems. AKEL, as the pioneering social and political force of the country will always be in the frontlines of the struggle for a better tomorrow, for the material and intellectual prosperity of our people, for the further upgrading of the quality of life of the working people. The Cypriot Left will continue to embody the best this country has to offer and to transform it into struggles for the people, the homeland and culture through the strength we gain from our 80 year old history, the value of our indomitable ideology and through the unity and rallying together of all of our forces.
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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