«THESES» OF THE C.C. OF AKEL
TO THE 23rd CONGRESS OF AKEL
SECTION 1: AKEL AND ITS INTERVENTION IN SOCIETY
CHAPTER A: Organization and Functioning of the Party structure
- The PBO, its functioning and role in the local community
- The guiding bodies of the Party, their functioning and role
- ‘Paragontismos’ and the Party Code of Conduct
- AKEL Branches abroad
- Auxiliary Bureaus of the C.C. of AKEL
- Party Organised Sections
- “New Forces”
- International Relations of AKEL
- The ideological front in contemporary conditions
CHAPTER B: AKEL and the mass organisations of the Left (People’s Movement of the Left)
- Trade Union Movement
- Farmer’s Movement
- Youth Movement
- Women’s Movement
CHAPTER C: The Party’s activity in state institutions
- Parliamentary Group of AKEL – Left – New Forces
- European Parliament Group of AKEL
- AKEL’s intervention in Local Government
CHAPTER D: AKEL and Mass Organizations – Social Movements
- The participation of AKEL members in mass agencies/organisations and social movements
- Pensioner’s Movement
- Peace Movement
SECTION 2: AKEL’S PROPOSALS TO SOCIETY FOR A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE
CHAPTER A: The Economy and labour
- The state of the global economy
- The Cyprus economy today
- For a sustainable economy
- Reshaping the economy
III. The banking system
- Energy policy
- Public Utility Organisations of General Interest
- Working people and labour rights
- Working people’s assertions for regulated labour relations
- Work and wages
III. Social insurance
- Quality jobs with rights
CHAPTER B: State and society
- Modern, progressive state
- Welfare State
- Housing social policy
III. Combatting poverty and social inequality
- People with disabilities
- Pensioners – the elderly
- Family support
- Structures exercising social policy
- Support to the refugees (1974 invasion in Cyprus)
- A society without discriminations and with equal rights
- Combatting discrimination
- Gender equality
Fighting racism and xenophobia
- For a human-centred Education system
- Health: Human-centred, quality service and universal access
- Modernization of institutions. Combatting corruption
- Justice and security
- The justice system
- The security system
CHAPTER C: For a better quality of life
- The Environment: For a new model of sustainable development
- Town planning and development
- Traffic – Urban transport system
- Culture and cultural development
- The struggle against addictive substances
SECTION 3: INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMEMNTS AND THE CYPRUS PROBLEM
CHAPTER A: The international situation
CHAPTER B: European Union
CHAPTER C: The situation in Turkey
CHAPTER D: How International and Regional Developments affect the Cyprus problem
CHAPTER E: Cyprus problem
CHAPTER F: Turkish Cypriot Community and Rapprochement
CHAPTER G: Enclaved people in the occupied areas
CHAPTER H: Missing persons
FOR THE CYPRUS WE DESERVE
The 23rd Congress of AKEL is taking place at a critical time in every respect. The whole world, Europe, but also our own neighborhood in the Eastern Mediterranean are plagued by contradictions and conflicts, at the same time as an unprecedented militarization of the world is being promoted. Neoliberal policies have resulted in the wealth humanity produces being channeled to the privileged few, while millions of people are living in conditions of hunger, destitution and poverty. The climate crisis is now a real threat to the very survival of our planet and humanity. Religious fanaticism, nationalism, fascism and racism are being fostered to be used as instruments to control every political and popular reaction.
Turkey continues to occupy 37% of the territory of Cyprus and violate the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus. The negotiating procedure is at a stalemate and the final partition is upon us. Our country is in danger of being dragged into new dangerous adventures. The struggle for the termination of the occupation, reunification is at a crucial point and is at a crossroads.
In Cyprus, a brutal neoliberal restructuring of the economy and society is being attempted, resulting in a shift of resources from the many to the privileged few. Workers, and in particular young people, are suffering an unprecedented decline in their standard of living, working conditions and quality of life in general. Popular gains and rights, which were won through sacrifices and struggles, are being abolished by the DISY-Anastasiades government. The welfare state has been dismantled and public wealth and property are being sold off. Society is suffocating from the corruption, conservatism, authoritarianism of the establishment, as well as the arrogance of the ruling power.
The contribution of the Left marks all the struggles waged by our people from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. These struggles, which changed the lives of the people, ensured political and social rights and gave a voice and dignity to the weak and underprivileged of society.
Today, we feel this responsibility even more heavily.
In the long history of the Communist Party of Cyprus – AKEL, our Party Congresses have represented historic and decisive milestones for its path of struggle. The “Theses” to the Congress, approved by the plenary of the Central Committee of AKEL on 25th January 2020, seek to open a broad, lively and creative dialogue on all of the above issues.
Through this collective reflection and dialogue we will emerge stronger to wage the struggles ahead of us. With our struggles our strength is steeled. Hope lies in the Left. The Left is struggle. It is the belied in the power of the people. The Left projects the perspective for our working people and country.
SECTION 1: AKEL AND ITS INTERVENTION IN SOCIETY
Studying the timely decisions of AKEL Party Congresses, one can easily distinguish the attempt to identify a more coherent way of creating preconditions for a more effective intervention by the Party in society. This is now a necessity, bearing in mind society’s development and the rapid pace at which it is evolving, in combination with the volatile international and local political environment in which we are active in recent years.
Possibilities for the Party’s intervention in society exist and could be made use of in various ways. The chapters and sub-chapters that have been selected, as a reference, are the most important ones and through them we have sought to highlight AKEL’s possibilities for its intervention.
Consequently, the functioning of AKEL’s Party Base Organisations (PBO) and bodies of the Party are considered as an essential axis of this pursuit. This functioning of the PBO’s on its own, let alone their improvement, provided that the proposals that have been submitted are implemented, represents an immediate intervention.
The section on the ideological struggle is of particular importance today, as the depreciation and denigration of political parties has literally reached unprecedented levels.
AKEL’s Parliamentary action, our activity in the European Parliament and intervention in local government are all areas that demand further analysis for their better and more substantive and effective utilisation.
The presence of the Party, through the activity and participation of Party members and militants in mass organisations and social movements, continues to be a key way of opening up new perspectives and bridges of contact with people, so that we can win their hearts and minds, their trust.
AKEL’s relationship with the mass Organisations of the Left (i.e. the People’s Movement of the Left) remains significant. Through this relationship and without affecting the autonomy of these Organizations, the Party has the opportunity to carry out mass political and ideological work, among working people, farmers, young people, women, pensioners and in general all social groups struggling for the particular economic and social problems affecting them.
The Party’s interactive communication with society is the means through which our political and ideological identity, positions and proposals are transmitted. These are elements which, by definition, demand the stamping out of social injustice, leading to the fulfillment of the Party’s strategic goals of solving the Cyprus problem and the socialist transformation of Cypriot society.
CHAPTER A: Organization and Functioning of the Party structure
- The PBO, its functioning and role in the local community
The Party Base Organisations (PBO) remain the backbone of AKEL. The systematic and effective operation of the PBO’s is one of the major challenges the Party faces today.
It is a fact that many PBO’s are either not functioning on a regular basis or are operating with several weaknesses and problems. This assessment does not mean that we disregard the fact that numerous PBO’s are functioning well, developing manifold activities, producing work and make a decisive intervention in their local community.
The role of Party members must not be limited to carrying out organizational tasks, such as, for example, raising funds and issuing membership cards or organising events/meetings, but should also extend to their active participation in charting policy. For the Party to play a leading role in various areas – local government, organized bodies and local associations of the People’s Movement and anywhere else where policies affecting people’s quality of life are decided – we must first ensure we have the necessary organizational capability.
Problems in the functioning of PBO’s appear with the following characteristics:
- Limited or selective participation in PBO meetings and its day-to-day actions, resulting in a high volume of work being carried out by a small number of militants, Local Party Secretaries in particular, often leading to the formal and sluggish fulfillment of party tasks.
- Lack of planning and targeted implementation of an action plan and a reluctance to take initiatives and assume responsibilities.
- Refusal of a respectable number of party members to settle their membership dues or other obligations.
- Fragmented intervention in local government issues and inadequate participation in other local movement/groups, such as parents’ associations, etc.
- Weaknesses in reaching out broadly to ordinary people.
- Difficulties in reaching out to and organising new members, but also in assimilating them into the Party’s day-to-day work, a fact which contributes to the weakness noted in promoting new cadres.
All of the above are a continuation of many and various parameters that we have been called upon to analyze, draw conclusions and elaborate feasible proposals to improve our work over the past five years.
Our Congress must, first and foremost, answer two key questions concerning the functioning of the PBO’s. What are these questions?
The first concerns the conclusions referred to above. Correct findings, which indeed portray a grim picture as regards the functioning of PBO’s. The main thing, however, is not just to identify the causes of problems and weaknesses, but to provide an answer as to how we should act to improve the current situation.
The second question concerns the steady decline in member’s attendance. Does the member feel that he or she has a say and a role to play in decision-making, especially on serious issues that affect society?
The proposal, which could change the situation for the better, lies in changing the way we work and the issues that PBO’s are currently dealing with.
The main focus of a PBO’s activity
There are key parameters that need to be taken into account for upgrading the actions of PBO’s and thus member’s participation in them.
- In times when there was no other way of being informed, the main topic of the meeting was to brief the members of the Party. In today’s conditions, party meetings should not focus primarily on briefings on current developments, but on explaining thoroughly the positions and stance of the Party towards them. More time should be given for questions to be submitted and a reflection. Where and whenever the subject matter so permits, PBO’s must also organize open meetings to give voters and friends of the Party the opportunity to be informed.
- On the question of whether Party members feel they have a real say and role in the decision-making process on serious issues affecting society, it should be noted that many discussions have taken place on this issue and a relevant provision has been made in the Party Statutes, but we still have a long way to go. For example, the Central Committee’s engagement with the party grass roots membership, when serious issues are discussed, as the rules of the Party themselves otherwise provide for, is in that direction.
- The main responsibility of PBO’s activities must be transferred to Party member participation in the local community, more specifically through Local Community or Municipal Councils, School Boards, Parents’ Associations, volunteer organizations, Associations and other local bodies. We have to be at the forefront of the struggles to improve people’s daily lives at all times and deal with everything that is of concern to local communities. This activity raises the awareness of Party members because it deals with issues that, in one way or another, affect each and every member and may stimulate greater interest in PBO meetings. We need to take the lead in raising issues, engaging in campaigning work to exercise pressure, as well as in volunteer work. We should be distinguished by our outward-looking approach and contact with our fellow citizens. Our actions should aim to open doors and involve not just party members, but the local community as a whole.
- During election campaigns, we often fail to work on multiple thematic issues and to combine tasks. The end of election campaigns must leave us with political, but also organisational results and gains.
- As regards issues concerning electoral cooperation or the nomination of candidates, the PBO’s should organize open mass meetings. This ensures the effective participation of the grass roots membership in the whole process and the right of Party members to submit their views in a timely manner, provided that this procedure will not replace our PBO General Assemblies. It is also important to make an early assessment of election campaigns. An initial assessment can be made in the PBO, even in the days following an election battle.
The smooth operation of PBO’s presupposes, in combination with the above, a series of actions. In this regard we should:
(a) The Annual PBO General Meetings should discuss and approve annual action plans, including actions that address both the general and specific needs of a local community. The annual organizational plan should be on numerous levels so as to offer an arena of activity and a broader covering of our member’s interests.
- b) We should systematically seek to organize more general discussions in PBO’s, something that will deepen our understanding of current issues (for example, on realignments and alliances, the crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean, the environmental crisis on a global but also local level, the history of the common worker’s struggles of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus, various aspects of our Party’s history, etc.), aimed at raising the ideological and, in general, theoretical level of our PBO militants and members. Furthermore, a list of speakers on specific topics should be drawn up, that can be delivered by the Party Central Organisational bureau to PBO’s, for a 15 minute introductory briefing and discussion.
- c) The Organisational Plan must be part of our meetings, without however overshadowing the rest of the agenda. Local Party Secretaries must inform party members about the course and results of the plan, as it is important that everyone becomes involved in the work to fulfill our tasks. The allocation of tasks, as well as the monitoring of the progress of the organizational plan, must concern the Local Party Bureau, which has the responsibility of implementing the plan and guiding PBO members towards this end.
- d) Each PBO should ensure that its members participate in all organized agencies that are active in its area of responsibility – namely, Municipal and Community Councils, Parents’ Associations, School Boards, Community Volunteer Councils and where there are organized bodies or groups.
- e) The recruitment of new members to the Party must concern systematically PBO’s all year round. The aging of party members is one of the most worrying issues facing us. Before proceeding with the organisation of new members, we must be sure that the candidate new member agrees and adopts AKEL’s Party Statutes and Rules of Procedure and that he/she is fully aware of his/her rights and obligations as a Party member.
- f) We should approach inactive members in every way possible to persistently raise with them the need to mobilize our daily struggles on a mass level in all areas and that everyone can make their own contribution. Provided that substantial contact has been made, we can then proceed to decisively remove from the register of members those members who, for a long time and unjustifiably, refuse to fulfill their obligations and those who have deliberately put themselves outside of the Party because of their political differences or anti-party activities.
- g) The education and promotion of cadres must be a daily goal. The renewal and strengthening our PBO’s and leadership bodies must be done in a planned and organised way – with the involvement of our members – in day-to-day work, by assigning responsibilities and delegating duties, with guidance and continuous monitoring. This presupposes that leading cadres must be sufficiently qualified, politically armed and able to lead by example.
- h) Education/ideological work must remain one of our top priorities. We have to counter the ideological attacks of the ruling class, which promotes anti-communism, propaganda campaigns against our party, depreciation and depoliticisation. To be able to confront these attacks there must be an ongoing process of political and ideological education, a thorough knowledge of current political developments, as well as of AKEL’s short and long-term goals and objectives. An integral part of our work must be the study, utilization and promotion of our representative voice, namely “Haravgi” daily newspaper.
- i) The modernization and improvement of the infrastructures of our Local Clubs of the People’s Movement of the Left must be of great concern to us. Our Clubs are aging dangerously and are in serious decline, as they are often restricted to operating as cafes. We need to modernize the services our Clubs provide, aim at establishing cultural groups (dance, music, theatre groups and other), sports teams, as well as creating spaces that can be used by children and youth.
Towards this end, each Party District Committee should discuss the problems and weaknesses each PBO faces separately.
Making use of Technology
The environment in which we are called upon to develop our activities has changed dramatically over the last decade due to technological developments, particularly in the field of communication and storage and transfer of data. It is therefore to be expected that the need to use technology, both in our organizational actions, as well as in the policy and transmission of Party positions and policies to members, and to society as a whole, will intensify in the years ahead.
We have taken steps to develop the use of electronic applications so that everyone can be informed in real time about the Party’s activities, positions, events, mobilisations and much more. We have also implemented technology programs for more effective contact with the people. However, we must further upgrade our work in this field and set targets, but also safety measures in the event of possible abuse.
Proper and safe storage of information should set as a goal, as well as the use of search systems. This will easily enable militants to download information that will help them better communicate with Party members and friends, correctly transmitting Party positions/policies – especially in a hostile media environment – and in the immediacy in promoting the communication between the party grassroots and leadership, always taking into account the structures of the Party.
Towards this end, we need to look at establishing a New Technologies Bureau of the Party.
Making use of Social Media
The proliferation of social media networks has changed the way people, organized groups and others communicate and interact.
The Party, as well as the mass organisations of the People’s Movement, have stepped up their intervention in NGO’s by transmitting our positions on a daily basis. We need to evaluate, however, who and how many are receiving our messages and how we can increase our influence in NGO’s.
We need to improve our presence, make use of and engage specialized trained staff, upgrade our work far from any amateur or fragmented solutions (election periods etc.), so that we can have a systematic and effective intervention. Above all, we are called upon to find the balance between harnessing the potential of technology and its correct use, avoiding the misrepresentation of positions or/and personal views of militants, which are often mistaken as positions of the Party. The positions of Party militants and members in NGO’s are an important parameter. Unfortunately, in several cases factionalism, unnecessary debate and self-promotion phenomena are observed, which obscures the Party’s positions. A framework must be put in place for members, and in particular party cadres in NGO’s, so that these phenomena can be examined in order to check and prevent these phenomena.
- The leadership bodies of the Party, their functioning and role
The Party’s guiding leadership bodies, despite the positive steps that have been taken, need to improve their presence and work at all levels. They need to keep in touch with the PBO’s, party members and the broader grass roots of the people, to understand and listen to the needs and problems of society and to seek practical solutions. Daily control of their area of responsibility must be exercised, and they should contribute towards the development of actions and improvement in our work and intervention.
It is essential that the leadership bodies accept and respect the views expressed by the grassroots membership, focusing on the various issues they are called upon to take decisions on. Constructively, self-critically and collectively, each guiding body should aim to improve its work and efficiency. There can be no complacency, but only the demand to become more and more effective every day.
Unfortunately, Party District Committees, because of their objective needs, are engaged in a daily struggle for financial self-preservation. This complicates the carrying out of their political and organizational tasks.
To strengthen the role of leadership bodies, we must in addition:
- a) Insist on the drawing up of an annual action plan for PBO’s, focusing on actions responding to the needs of the given local community.
- b) Insist on the functioning of the practice of the party organizer, where and whenever necessary. Party supervisors must not under any circumstances replace local party leaderships. Instead, they should guide and provide practical support to Local Party Secretaries and members of Party Bureaus. They should forge personal contact with our members, know the particularities of the specific area which they follow, and participate systematically in party actions. It goes without saying that militants who have increased duties in their PBO’s should not be seconded to monitor other party groups.
(c) The definition of a permanent cadre Responsible in each Region should be promoted in all districts. The goal is for the Responsible cadre to forge a permanent link, who over time will have an overall picture of the potential of the region, establish close relationships with the Party as a whole, deal directly with the general and specific problems of the local community and contribute to the further decentralization and better monitoring of our work.
- d) As far as members of Party guiding bodies are concerned, they must respond to and participate in the day-to-day work of the Party, and not limit their presence to participating in sessions. It is forbidden for leadership members to carry out their tasks in a selective manner, but must all be involved in providing guidance to PBO’s, Auxiliary Bureaus and whatever other needs arise. They must participate decisively not only in formulating decisions, but also in the practical implementation of decisions. They should be at the forefront of our political and organizational struggles and by setting an example they will have a positive impact on upgrading the voluntary work of militants and members. Leadership cadres need to be fully qualified and able to answer questions that come before them.
(e) The Party guiding bodies are obliged to assess the activity of their members and to be informed with transparency of their individual work.
- ‘Paragontismos” and the Code of Conduct
The amendment to the existing Code of Conduct cannot, without additional measures, address the growing problem of ‘paragontismos’, which is increasingly being observed, especially during election campaigns. The phenomenon of ‘paragontismos’ began to preoccupy the Party since 2001, in view of parliamentary elections, when a Code of Conduct was approved by the Central Committee. Since then, this phenomenon has concerned us in every electoral battle. It is important that we all without exception realize that ‘paragontismos’ is ideologically alien to our own operating principles and that it endangers the foundations of the party’s structure. It is extremely difficult to halt, given the extent to which it is assuming, and cannot be solved purely by taking administrative measures. However, this phenomenon may have been gone astray due to the tolerance shown over time by the Party statutory bodies.
Various social phenomena, characteristics of capitalist society, such as individualism, the drive to achieve “success” at any price and easy gain, have negative effects on our own behavior too. The democratic changes that have taken place in the Party in recent years and the deepening of inter-party democracy may have been exploited and created some side effects that hadn’t been expected. These side effects, instead of helping to expand democracy, on the contrary, lead to the constraining and marginalization of healthy forces, and particularly of the young generation.
Code of Conduct
The adoption of a Code of Conduct by the Central Committee is included in Regulation 29 of the Party Rules of Procedure. Rule 30 refers to the need to take measures, including non-exclusion from the ballot. The full abolition of the Code, because of the ineffective tackling of the phenomenon of ‘paragontismos’, is not an option. On the contrary, the political will needed to put an end to such behaviours that are not in line with the character and principles of our own Party must be demonstrated. If we function like the other political parties, then we will be no different to them. We must safeguard the positives that distinguish and set us apart from the rest and combat negative phenomena with the necessary political will.
So far – and even though the statutes include the obligation – there has not been the necessary attention given to assessing the work, especially of cadres/militants holding public or party positions/posts. Those responsible for this assessment/evaluation must exercise this responsibility as set out in the party statutes. Exercising this responsibility might also solve many problems relating to breaches of the Code, when they develop from the outset.
The existing Code needs improvement, updating and specialization. The problems that arise, as well as life itself, bring new issues to the fore that need to be incorporated into a new code of conduct. Such as:
- The code must not act as a barrier to contacts with the mass of our voters, given the size of the abstention of left voters.
- Asserting personal votes, voting only a single candidate, or even worse, defaming other candidates on our ballot is an unethical act. It goes without saying that asserting a personal vote from the political spectrum beyond ours is legitimate.
- The violation of the code by a candidate or party member must, provided that it is substantiated, be subject to consequences.
- The only existing consequence in the existing code in the event of a violation of the code is the candidate’s removal from the ballot. Although there have been confirmed findings of its violation, this has never been implemented.
- Penalties need to be graded as follows: Reprimand – Party membership should be informed – Public reprimand – Expulsion from the ballot.
- The evaluation and commenting on the pros and cons of the candidates, although enshrined in the Regulations and Statutes, isn’t implemented, resulting in a leveling of all candidates and in particular when their possible weaknesses and omissions are not mentioned.
- The right of leadership bodies to point out and stress the importance of electing candidates, who express the policies promoted by the Party through its collective decisions (participation of a Turkish Cypriot in the European elections ballot, election of women and other), as well as the presence of cadres from the leading political body in the House of Representatives is self-evident and constitutionally safeguarded.
The Central Control Committee must have the responsibility for the application of the code for Parliamentary and European elections, which, upon a complaint (verbal and written) and on its own initiative, should look into any violations. District Committees should have the responsibility for Local Government elections – due to their size and peculiarities – offering the possibility for anyone to appeal decisions, by taking recourse to the Central Control Committee.
The first two penalties (reprimand made to a candidate and informing the party membership) are enforced by the Central Control Committee, after briefing the respective body. As regards the issue of making the reprimand to a candidate public and his/her removal from the ballot, this requires the approval of the leadership bodies that have endorsed their nominations. District Committees are responsible for imposing penalties with regards local elections.
The penalty imposed must be imposed immediately, without delay, during the election campaign and not belatedly, as that would make the penalty pointless. The briefing of the whole party grass roots should be done, depending on the election campaign. If, for example, it is a municipal election, the members of the Municipality will be informed, if it is a parliamentary election then the members of the district will be informed. The briefing to be given to the members is that the specific candidate or even member of the Party has violated the Code of Conduct and has taken actions that breach the Party’s principles of operation and as a result, his/her conduct degrades both the Party, as well as the voters.
The same could also apply for a public reprimand, if he/she continues to refuse to comply and violates the code. As far as on-going violations for working solely to gain personal votes and engaging in slandering is concerned, but also for other serious violations included in the existing code, the final penalty must be the removal from the ballot paper.
The Code should be extended to cover social media too. While social media networks must be used as a means of communicating with voters, they should not be used for personal promotion, but for promoting positions/policies, events and generally should be identified with our election campaign. For this purpose, we need to elaborate a special code addressing various issues, such as whether or not there should be a right to funded accounts, what is transmitted, who has the responsibility to monitor and other issues. The Communications Bureau of the Party has prepared a relevant proposal.
- Party Branches abroad
Party Branches operate in Greece and Britain, which have the structure and leadership bodies of District Organizations. The actions of these Party Branches focuses on:
- Enlightening/briefing on the Cyprus problem at a state and Cypriot community level.
- Supporting the Cypriot community and solving specific problems.
- Supporting struggles waged to improve the living standards of the peoples in their countries of residence.
- Contact, support and engage new immigrants and students with the Cypriot community and the Party
- Active involvement in Cyprus election campaigns.
The conditions and peculiarities of our activity abroad demand:
- Our continuous involvement in the political and social affairs of the Cypriot community.
- The development of innovative forms of action depending on the specific conditions at an organizational level.
- Consistent raising of member’s ideological levels (in a variety of innovative ways) due to the absence of daily fermentation and,
- As a priority, the continuous renewal of cadres/militants and the recruitment of new members to the Party.
AKEL Branch in Britain
The UK AKEL Branch’s contribution to the promotion of the Party’s positions and the preservation of the cultural identity of Cypriots abroad, and therefore the very survival of the community itself as an entity, is crucial. The support and further development of Greek language schools is our heritage and duty. Because of the young generation of British-born Cypriots, whose politicization is to our advantage and responsibility, our activity must develop in English too. Maintaining and strengthening the weekly “Parikiaki” newspaper is an achievement in our social and political intervention in the community. The bi-communal character of the community must be stressed through our actions and initiatives, such as for example through the newly established platform “Movement for a United Cyprus”.
AKEL Branch in Greece
In Greece, the Cypriot community is mainly made up of refugees from 1974 and students who have remained there after their graduation. The issues that concern the community in particular are the rights of refugees and the question of the equal treatment of Cypriots abroad. The AKEL Branch, through its militants, publications and bulletins, is active in the community’s agencies/organisations and in the solidarity movement towards Cyprus, as well as in rapprochement platforms with other Cypriots abroad. Party members are active in the student body (particularly important and large in size) in cooperation with EDON Youth Organisation in the student movement, as well as cooperating with expatriate youth (second and third generation).
- Auxiliary Bureaus of the Central Committee
The current model of functioning of the Auxiliary Bureaus of the C.C. was established in the early 1990’s and has responded significantly to the demands we had set. The social and political life of Cyprus, however, has changed enormously. A new overall plan is required in relation to their structure, role and functioning.
The character of Party Auxiliary Bureaus is not the same in all cases. There are Bureaus dealing with the day-to-day work of the Party (organizational, ideological, security) and Bureaus with the task of monitoring specific areas of the administration/government and formulating policy/positions in fields such as: health, education, energy and others.
In the specific document, we will focus on the Auxiliary Bureaus dealing with internal governance.
The activity of these Bureaus does not correspond to the specific Ministries or Parliamentary Committees. There are issues where many Bureaus are involved and issues due to the fact that it isn’t clear which Bureau is responsible. This problem is compounded by the fact that there is no horizontal monitoring and coordination between various Bureaus.
Evaluations about the functioning of Bureaus vary also. There are Bureaus that function satisfactorily, others face some problems, while others function periodically and others do not function.
The role, activity and mission of Auxiliary Bodies
Auxiliary Bureaus are mechanisms that elaborate and produce policy/positions, ideas and proposals that continuously feed the Party’s leadership bodies. They must constantly follow developments in their specific field of responsibility and be able to timely take a critical stand and prepare the Party’s responses. They must know the problems that exist in their area of work and constantly put forward suggestions and proposals for overcoming these problems.
Each Auxiliary Bureau must maintain contact with organized groups and agencies, while at the same time through their public interventions, convey the Party’s positions and monitor Party Sections active in their field of interest.
Cooperation, decentralization, specialization
The fundamental principles that will facilitate our work are decentralization, specialization and the annual assessment of our activity. Everyone knowing what their specific duties, responsibilities and arena of activity are will make them more effective and efficient in their work. It will also enable better coordination, creative control, accountability and adequate monitoring and guidance.
To accomplish the above and achieve a better decentralization, without however any overlapping, the cooperation in areas where Bureaus have common characteristics or a common subject of study is useful. Ad-hoc Committees can also be set up to discuss specific topics on specialised issues.
The Head of a Bureau is the decisive factor in the functioning of an Auxiliary Bureau. The Head of each sector must be a political cadre who should act in providing leadership, undertake initiatives and promote issues. To adequately fulfill this role, the Head of a Bureau must constantly be informed and know about developments in his/her field and have a comprehensive and well-documented knowledge of the subject matter of his/her area of activity.
- Party organised Sections
In addition to their trade union role, mass agencies/organisations in a number of professional sectors also play a role that touch on political and ideological boundaries. The Party’s long-standing policy is that mass organizations and trade unions must assume a progressive character, expressing and serving the interests of working people and society and not the personal and self-interests of any particular group.
The participation of Party members and militants in these organisations is crucial so that they struggle to give them the character and role we as a Party seek to play. A crucial element is the institutionalization of a procedure by which the Party mechanism will facilitate the participation of Party members and militants and to subsequently ensure a continuous and reciprocal relationship with them.
Unfortunately, in some mass organisations, for some years now, our intervention has ranged from fragmented to non-existent. This is because we haven’t yet managed to create and operate a Party organised Section. In the past several attempts were made, but these didn’t yield results.
Apart from the distinct problems, in almost all cases, the reasons for the failure to do so lie in the inadequate monitoring and guidance given by the Party’s mechanism. To change this situation, the Party’s intervention is needed so as to establish and function Party organised Sections. A prerequisite for their success is the assignment of this task to a member of the party mechanism that will guide the above procedure.
- New Forces
Three decades after the creation of the custom of ‘New Forces’, the goals that had originally been set and concerned the Party’s opening up to forces friendly towards its policies and ideology have to a large extent been fulfilled.
- The inclusion of personalities on our election ballot, under the umbrella of the ‘New Forces’ (NF), contributed towards avoiding the picture or attempt to isolate the Party. This broadening of our ballots was at the same time also a response to the attempts made by our political opponents to portray AKEL as a dogmatic, entrenched and introvert Party. The custom of the NF represents a mechanism that is and indeed is perceived by the people as representing an opening to society and tangible evidence of self-confidence and an outward looking approach.
- The NF have also contributed to expanding our electoral base, more to do with the momentum it created rather the personal votes transferred to the Party, without of course underestimating these as well.
- The evolution of the custom of NF by establishing a group of cooperating personalities, who do not necessarily campaign as candidates of the Party in elections campaigns, helped to forge a two-way channel of communication with them, which allowed on the one hand the Party to convey the Party’s positions and policies to this group and, on the other hand, their own positions and concerns with regards the Party’s policy and overall course.
Throughout all these years, problems and weaknesses have undoubtedly not disappeared. More specifically:
- As to the selection of personalities from the spectrum of the NF to be included in our ballots, judging from the results, wrong choices have been made.
- The connection, coordination and utilization of the NF by the Party remains at a low level. This, on the one hand, does not permit the Party to get the greatest possible benefit, and on the other hand, it negatively affects the appeal of the custom of the New Forces themselves.
- In addition, it is evident that the NF’s image over the thirty years of its existence has actually weakened in society and among the party membership.
Taking into account the positives and negatives of the NF’s 30-year course, we believe that the goals that were set at its formation haven’t disappeared. On the contrary, these goals are still relevant in today’s political and social conditions. However, based on our findings on the weaknesses of the custom, we need to discuss ways to improve and make more effective use of it.
More specifically, we should seek the following:
- a) The selection of personalities to be included in our ballots should be done with the required caution, taking into account, first and foremost, their general social activity, the qualitative characteristics of individuals and of secondary importance their potential electoral resonance. We should reflect on whether the candidates of the New Forces could be directly nominated by the highest leadership bodies.
- b) The Party’s leading bodies, at a central and district level, should be more systematically engaged in the efforts to strengthen the NF custom. The list of New Forces should be enriched constantly in all districts.
- d) NF can be made use of in Auxiliary Bureaus of District Committees and the C.C. or in ad-hoc research/study committees, where such a possibility is provided.
- e) The NF should be involved in the procedures for nominating candidates as provided for in the Party Statutes and Rules of Procedure.
- f) Establish a systematic separate contact with NF personalities, in order to keep them constantly informed about our positions and for them to participate in the main activities of the Party and the People’s Movement and to give them the possibility to convey their concerns and priorities.
- The International Relations of the Party
In the difficult international environment and with the ever-increasing challenges we have to face, the Party’s international relations represent a channel for bilateral and multilateral contacts and exchanges of information and experiences. These relations are based on the development of mutual international and practical solidarity with the struggling peoples, an indispensable element in our struggle. All international forums and organizations (for example, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) and organizations in which we participate as AKEL and as the People’s Movement (WFDY, WFDW, WFTU, WPC) are all utilized for this purpose. Our presence and contribution in all of them to the benefit of our struggle and common struggles is assessed as positive. The goal must remain the best coordination and effectiveness of our actions.
AKEL’s bilateral relations are based on mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of parties. These are principles necessary for the development of healthy bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Respecting diversity, and fully aware of the absence of ideological cohesion, we aim for joint action through the assumption of common initiatives and actions. As a member of the Working Group of the International Meetings of Communist and Workers Parties (IMCWP), AKEL continues to work on this bases for the broadest cooperation between Communist and Workers parties. The IMCWP is a useful custom, which needs however to take steps to respond to the contemporary challenges the international movement faces.
AKEL must maintain and strengthen the cooperation with political forces and movements of the broader left around specific issues and initiatives. This is also applies to the Party of the European Left, where we participate as observers, despite our reservations. At the same time, AKEL should continue to develop contacts with political forces and institutional bodies that are in a position to make a positive contribution towards the solution of the Cyprus problem.
The development of AKEL’s international relations is crucial for obtaining correct information and in making an evaluation of what is happening internationally and therefore constitutes a useful tool in formulating policies in relation to international issues. Knowledge of international developments must be transmitted more systematically to the Party as it can enhance the Party’s ideological and educational work, especially in the conditions of the far-right’s growth. Furthermore, through our international relations, we have deepened the interaction we have with fraternal parties as regards the overall stance of the Left on international issues. Our enduring engagement with international relations also represents a particularly important means of disseminating and conveying the necessary information with regards our long-standing assertions and developments on the Cyprus problem.
In view of the further escalation of the imperialist attacks against the peoples of our region and the respect AKEL enjoys among the fraternal parties of the region, our Party must intensify its initiatives. These must primarily concern the struggle against the militarization of international relations and nuclear weapons, as well as the expression of anti-imperialist solidarity towards our fraternal parties, through organizations we participate.
- The ideological front in modern conditions
Ideology plays a pivotal role in the functioning of any political or social system of power for the fulfillment of its sought goals. The ruling class exercises its hegemony in a given society, sustaining a coalition, often composed of heterogeneous social and political forces, but with a specific ideology as a binding link.
In today’s Cypriot conditions, this ideological narrative is expressed as a combination of neoliberalism, individualism, nationalism, chauvinism and xenophobia, which is reproduced in numerous ways and promoted by a variety of establishment and ruling mass media serving interwoven interests, manipulating popular and small-medium strata. This ideological narrative is manifested on the simplest of issues affecting socio-economic life up to issues related to broader goals and orientations, including the Cyprus problem as well, by having as its spearhead, the activity of the ultra-right and authoritarian establishment in particular.
At the same time, neoliberalism, with its onslaught in the economy and political life, is being promoted and penetrating all the areas of the ideological front, aiming at fostering such collective perceptions that will distract people from their main and fundamental problems, but also creating preconditions of indifference, depreciation, nihilism and the denial of collective struggle. At the same time, neither should the refined promotion of nationalism, nor the attempts to promote a supposedly revolutionary phraseology be underestimated. This “revolutionary” phraseology, addressing various sections of left-wing voters, essentially aims at isolating and marginalizing the Party and denigrating its long-standing policy and ideology, and by doing so facilitating the consolidation of the neoliberal ideological concept among the broader social consciousness.
For that reason, the ideological struggle is of great importance in our efforts to cultivate and continually raise class consciousness, the values of social solidarity, active participation, internationalism, patriotism far from any nationalist obsessions, the respect for all human beings, and the respect for every person regardless of gender, colour, religion or diversity. It is a difficult and complex task.
No matter how many gains may be achieved through the waging of economic, political and social struggles, so long as the broader masses are subservient to bourgeois ideology and dominant ideological concepts, no real preconditions can be created for the necessary political and social leap forward. It is important, therefore, to develop a cohesive ideological front that brings together social forces interested in promoting decisive policies to create the necessary structures and institutions in society. We need to revitalise our vision of socialism, a vision of a society without exploitation, which the international ruling class and its representatives, by every means, are trying in a targeted way to tarnish and annul, not through persuasion, but by blackmailing dilemmas, phobic syndromes, scaremongering public opinion, falsifying and distorting the historical truth.
Our own discourse to society must not be confined only to theoretical analysis and mere enlightenment – both of which have a place and a role to play. It must be accompanied by practical political action and assumption of initiatives (especially at grassroots level) that will reflect precisely our different outlook, educate with the values of our worldview and define roads of common daily struggle at the level of society.
The continued strengthening of our ideological-political work must be the subject of collective action. The separation of organizational work from our ideological-political intervention is to the detriment of the Party’s overall actions. The separation supposedly into organizational and theoretical cadres is a mistake in the current conditions of party work and action, where a central weapon in the hands of our political and ideological opponents is the image portrayed (in most cases false and artificial) and fake news – without this meaning that there shouldn’t specialization in the delegation and analysis of ideological issues.
The Party militant, today, is not, and should not be, a mere bearer of news or announcements to the party membership and as a consequence to society in general. On the contrary, he/she must be in a position to formulate an opinion, educate and enhance critical thinking and perception of the party grass roots membership so that they can distinguish and discern the multitude of news that are being channeled through the establishment mass media and reproduced on many online social media outlets.
To win the battle on the ideological front, organizational work must be linked with ideological work. Continuous ideological-political education and training of Party militants, at all levels, up to and including the party grass roots membership, is a prerequisite for more efficient organizational work, but also for the promotion of the Party’s immediate and long-term goals, serving the best interests of the broader popular strata and, at the end of the day, of the Cypriot people as a whole.
There is an urgent need to put our ideological-political work on a more systematic basis by formulating a long-term plan for the acquisition, understanding and consolidation of Marxist education aiming at both cadres, who make up leadership bodies, but also at the level of local cadres and militants. Particular attention must be given to young Party members by organising lectures, Party schools and seminars on a regular basis.
The efficiency of our ideological-political work must constantly concern party guiding bodies, while at the same time enriching its content, modernising methods and making full use of the potential provided by social media. Within this framework, the creation of an online platform for the reproduction of ideological and historical texts, that are published in the Party’s theoretical organ “New Democrat” or/and material that has been accumulated over decades, must also concern leadership bodies. This will enable the young generation, in particular, to engage in self-education from our own sources for a correct ideological orientation and education.
The media, through which we intervene as a Party and to which we must attach particular attention to, has an important role to play in shaping and strengthening our ideological front. The media are not just another voice, but a means of conveying the ideas and visions of the Left on a mass level, but also of educating and restoring historical truth.
CHAPTER B: AKEL and the Mass People’s Movement
- The Trade Union Movement
The onslaught and domination of neoliberalism on an international level over the last 30 years has obviously had a direct effect also on the socio-economic and trade union conditions of Cyprus, especially after the EU Customs Union and Cyprus’ eventual accession to the EU and Eurozone.
In Cyprus, at the height of the crisis and with the right-wing assuming power – with the imposition of neoliberal policies on labour and social issues – the depreciation of labour, privatization of public and cooperative social-economic activity and the severe fiscal austerity and dismantling of the social welfare state have been the key pillars in the promotion of a neoliberal restructuring of the Cyprus economy and society. The main lever of these restructurings is the deregulation of labour relations and the undermining of collective organization and collective forms of bargaining of worker’s rights.
Unity in action
Under Cyprus’ historically specific political context, a system has been formed where the two big worker’s Trade Union Federations, while maintaining and publicly expressing their different political and ideological orientations, are committed to a common handling of labour problems.
It is clear that this unity in action has made a decisive contribution towards strengthening the bargaining power of the trade union movement over the years and has been an important factor in winning labour and social rights for workers.
In today’s situation, where the attacks on workers’ rights are intensifying, the unity in action of the trade union movement should not only be continued, but be strengthened and expanded. Our Party, with its class criterion and orientation, seeks to unite all the exploited people in one common front, highlighting the real social contradictions between capital and labour.
The role of AKEL members and militants
AKEL, as the political expression of the working class, and the Pancyprian Federation of Labout (PEO), as the trade union expression, have the same historical origins. Their relationship is not just a relationship of an alliance and cooperation, but they serve, where every organization is active, the same goal and historical mission. We need to rekindle our attention and action, as the Party pf the Working People, in relation to the value and role of working people’s organization and trade union action. We must admit that, today, this priority isn’t self-evident.
The members and friends of the Party must realise the importance of trade union action and should stand out as vanguard fighters in the efforts to organize working people to assert their rights. This trade union action should help and strengthen the Party’s relationship with the trade union movement.
At the same time, phenomena have to be addressed, which, unfortunately, are constantly increasing, due to the changes in the Party’s social composition. Members or even militants, even of AKEL, behave on the issue of trade union activity in ways that are not at all compatible with their status as party members.
Trade Union Bureau of AKEL
It is evident that the Trade Union Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL must expand its role by coordinating and guiding AKEL members and militants, where and wherever they develop trade union activity, across the whole spectrum of sections of working people.
The composition of the Trade Union Bureau, its mandate and guidance mechanism by the Party’s leading bodies must respond to this need.
In the neoliberal socio-economic environment, issues of general concern to all working people, such as, for example, policies imposing austerity and cuts, the threat to trade union freedoms, the curbing of the role of collective bargaining and social dialogue, the “dismantling” of the welfare state, are assuming an increasingly greater significance. The need to strengthen the class-orientation of the trade union movement, at a time of significant realignments in the area of work, necessitates a more steadfast, more coordinated and strategically oriented intervention on the part of the Party, through its militants, in the wider trade union spectrum, both within the private, as well as the public sector.
- Farmers Movement
Climate change, the deep economic crisis of the capitalist system, the brutal exploitation of agricultural production by wholesalers, increased production costs, the fragmentation of agricultural land and 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus under occupation, demonstrate the need for a new radical policy in the primary sector of our country’s economy.
Problems, of course, existed beforehand. The agricultural sector was hit extremely hard as a result of Cyprus’ accession to the EU in 2004 and the liberalization of the market. Exports of agricultural products fell by 20% to just 5%. Government policy, however, is systematically undermining the productivity and sustainability of one of our economy’s most important productive sectors.
AKEL has always been at the forefront of farmer’s struggles, supporting, in practice, farmers both inside and outside parliament, taking further initiatives both within Cyprus and abroad, in the European Parliament and other EU institutions, precisely where the Common Agricultural Policy of EU member states is charted.
AKEL is in the frontline of the struggles to create a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector, which should provide support to farmers in the field, on the farm, through modified solutions, focused not on the procedure, but on results. At the same time, AKEL still leads the way in the efforts to include our traditional agricultural products, such as halloumi cheese, wines and other products in Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products. Small Cyprus can compete with European products only by producing quality products. It is therefore essential to focus on quality agriculture with the production of high quality certified agricultural products.
It is also imperative to elaborate and promote ecological programs to support agriculture/livestock, with incentives and practices to respect the climate and environment. Furthermore, AKEL will also be at the forefront of the efforts to establish a National and Community Biodiversity Bank in the Troodos mountain range area, thus contributing towards achieving the above objective.
Support towards young farmers and stock breeders is also important. Our aim is to increase employment in the economy’s primary sector, as well as to engage younger people in this sector. Young people, skilled and dynamic, can exploit the primary sector’s productive potential, based on innovation and new technologies.
AKEL strongly supports the efforts undertaken by the Union of Cypriot Farmers (EKA) and the rest of the Farmer’s Movement to protect the commercial sector of Cooperatives so that farmers can become the real managers of their own production.
AKEL, in full cooperation with the EKA and the organized Farmer’s Movement in general, will continue to make every possible effort so that farmers will take their rightful place in Cypriot society and in a prosperous countryside with the corresponding infrastructure, something that farmers deserve.
AKEL has to upgrade its key creative method, namely its daily contact in every local community, district and in cooperation with the EKA in every agricultural and livestock unit where our fellow citizens live and work. Towards this end, the following are demanded:
- Greater determination in tackling the problems plaguing people living in disadvantaged areas of Cyprus.
- Reciprocal briefing and correct planning.
- Upgraded reciprocal control, with timely feedback.
- Greater efficiency in fulfilling the goals set before us, with specific timetables for their implementation.
The conditions dictate that all cadres at all levels should upgrade their action both qualitatively and quantitatively, basically by setting an example. This is what will help us to be at the forefront of local communities, and by doing so0 winning the trust of the common people.
- Youth Movement
AKEL is the Party of youth in practice and this is being demonstrated by life itself. It is demonstrated by the long and ongoing struggles we have waged and the achievements we have won for the young generation. We continue together to assert for our young people.
The young generation of Cyprus lives and is active in a very difficult environment; in a system that is “killing” social solidarity and seeks to turn them into self-centred, marginalized and inward looking young people far from any collective participation and action.
As a result, a large section of young people is distancing themselves from political involvement, political parties and organized struggle, with the majority claiming that “You are all the same” as their main argument. This tendency is worrying for our society and dangerous for the Left, because the effects of depreciation, frustration and distancing from political engagement act as a means for perpetuating and reproducing the established order. Society and the country are hurt by apathy and indifference.
Great changes have also taken place in the conditions that have emerged as a result of Nikos Anastasiades and DISY assuming the country’s government and the attacks waged on popular rights, and in particular, against youth. Thousands of young people have been forced to leave Cyprus as immigrants, while others are suffering from unemployment and those who are working are paid meagre wages.
In spite of all the pressure Cypriot youth are under in general, they still retain the characteristics of questioning, spontaneity, and the tendency towards everything new and innovative. These features are radical and act as progressive agencies of social change.
A section of young people continue to be sensitive as regards the Cyprus problem, despite another significant part shifting towards accepting the status quo or even towards reactionary positions, together with the revival of ultra-right nationalist organizations. The vindication of our philosophy and positions on the Cyprus problem are the greatest guarantee for the correct orientation of youth on this crucial issue – the struggle against imperialism, for the reunification of our country and people.
Our alternative proposal on culture, the need for young people to join and participate in trade unions, sport and political struggle continues to resonate with a large section of young people beyond the spectrum of the Left as well.
At the same time, actions to defend and expand young people’s rights are connected to the struggle against neoliberalism and imperialism, as well as the struggle for social progress, something which helps young people comprehend that better living conditions can only come through waging constant struggles. It is this specific action that can reveal to young people the link that exists between AKEL’s goals, struggles and vision with young people’s rights. This is the way that helps towards young people realizing the necessity for engaging in organized struggle.
The involvement of young people within the ranks of the Youth Organization of the Left, EDON, is significant. The fact that EDON remains a leading and assertive force in youth affairs is the best proof that AKEL’s visions are the essential counterbalance to depreciation and depoliticisation. EDON is the Party’s reserve force and the key driver for the development of a broad, political, social and cultural movement among the young generation. AKEL supports EDON and provides it with the necessary resources to continue its activities unhindered.
This support should not be limited to a central and district level only. The Party Base Organisations must provide active and concrete support towards the functioning of EDON’s Local Organisations in their area of activity. Towards this end, they must seek to cooperate and communicate with EDON Local Organisations on a systematic basis, develop personal contacts with EDON members and seek to elaborate joint action plans. These plans, in combination with initiatives that can be taken locally, will also contribute towards the smooth transition of EDON members to the ranks of the Party. Unfortunately, it is a common finding that we haven’t been able to integrate our student militants into the Party ranks.
At the same time, we note that young people’s participation in mass youth organizations, such as student and school student organizations, is significant.
Pancyprian Children’s Movement of EDON
AKEL, and the People’s Movement of the Left in general, has always had children and their needs high among its priorities. Since its establishment in 1960, the activity of the Pancyprian Children’s Movement of EDON aims to help children develop a critical thinking and struggle against injustice and fascism and to give them opportunities to make creative use of their leisure time, getting to know our culture and develop social activity. Despite the fact that it has the character of a movement and addresses broader sections of Cypriot society, nevertheless the support and strengthening of the Movement’s mass character by the Party Base Organisations and mass organisations of the Left has never ceased being vitally important .
School Pupils Movement
The School Pupil’s Movement won in 1994, after waging struggles over many years, its legal expression at all levels and the legalisation of the Pancyprian and District Coordinating Committees of School Pupils (PSEM and ESEM respectively). We shall continue to wholeheartedly support PSEM, as representing the mass organisation of the School Pupil’s Movement, with the sole criterion being the development of an autonomous, united, mass and assertive School Pupil’s Movement that struggles with consistency for the interests of school pupils. We shall continue to support pupils in their struggle against the turning back in the educational reform and further promotion of conservatism in schools.
Supporting the mass organisations of the student movement (POFEN – Student Unions) remains the primary goal of our forces in the student movement. With the best interests of the organized Cypriot student movement always at heart and with the sole aim of developing a healthy, autonomous, united and militant student movement, we support the Cyprus Federation of Student Unions. POFEN, with proper and democratic structures and functioning, and an assertive character, must represent the guarantee for a student movement that will struggle with consistency for the rights of our students and people.
- Women’s Movement
Despite the significant progress and steps that have been made in women’s social position in Cyprus and in the world, the truth is that gender equality still remains a vision, not a reality.
Contrary to supposedly new and superficial theories, which consider that the existence of women’s movements reproduce discrimination, we believe that so long as female inequality exists, the necessity for the existence of an autonomous Women’s Movement and militation in a class, progressive and democratic orientation is imperative.
The intervention of the Left, within the women’s movement in our country, is expressed for decades through the Women’s Movement of PDOG-POGO. In recent years, POGO has faced serious problems, both related to the shrinking of its full-time mechanism and the decline in the involvement of women volunteers in the Movement’s daily activities. A particular problem is present in the organization of young women in the ranks of POGO. Despite the difficulties over recent years, there has been deep changes in the further politicization of POGO’s activity with assertions based on elaborated positions, together with its significant intervention in institutions dealing with women’s issues.
However today, a more modern discourse and activity is demanded, more bold steps need to be taken and more effective efforts must be made to involve women of the younger generation in the Movement’s daily activity. This presupposes that the Party devotes forces and sets among its priorities the strengthening and renewal of the Women’s Movement of POGO, ensuring that Party Base Organisations have a more systematic involvement on issues affecting women, and to link the Women’s Movement’s activities with local communities and the Party’s actions.
Unity of action must also be continued and deepened with organisations and movements that – even if they may not share our ideological views on women’s issues – are active on specific areas of action, such as gender-based violence, trafficking, women’s health, provision of social support for maternity, women immigrants and on other issues.
At the same time, we conclude that there is room for improving and upgrading the work of the Equality Bureau of the C.C. The Bureau, since the previous Congress, examined and took a position on numerous policy issues concerning women, but a substantial scope exists for elaborating policy positions and practical proposals on equality and parity issues.
A key issue is the role and presence of women in the Party itself, their participation in the Party’s life, in the leadership guiding bodies and Party election ballots. AKEL may be more ahead on these issues than other political forces in our country, but our benchmark is parity rather than comparing ourselves with others.
The shrinking of working people’s leisure time objectively further restricts the possibilities of women today becoming politically active. The disproportionate gender composition of the Party as a whole and as a consequence of the guiding bodies is an expression of the objective problem. However, that does not negate the fact that the special work that needs to be carried out by the Party among women and for women has slackened.
As regards the issue of promoting women cadres, the Party has correctly not adopted the quota system. However, this cannot lead to the problem being ignored. Stereotypes and conservatism adversely affect perceptions and roles about women within our Party too. For that reason, special work is demanded among women. We should take care to promote women cadres, but also conduct systematic ideological and political work, among the party membership as a whole, on the women’s issue, its nature and manifestations, on the struggle for equality as a cause for both men and women.
The problems and weaknesses present in specific areas of the Women Movement’s presence and activity must concern the Party’s guiding bodies. The goal is the strengthening of the Women’s Movement and consequently its intervention in Cypriot society.
CHAPTER C: The Party’s activity in state institutions
- AKEL – Left – New Forces Parliamentary Group
Our Party, in the last parliamentary elections of 2016, recorded significant losses compared to the corresponding elections of 2011. In the new Parliament that emerged, for the first time, eight parties elected representatives, which, in the light of the negative balance of forces, made the formation of a parliamentary majority even harder. The entry of the neo-fascist ELAM party was a particularly negative development. The following must be added to these findings:
- In the early stages, we continued to be going through a period of political isolation and anti-AKEL frenzy, even though from 2011 to 2016, there has been a gradual improvement in the situation. As far as the last period is concerned, the situation has improved noticeably, a fact that has permitted on several issues, such as on the issue of privatizations, where, in coordination and cooperation with other opposition political forces too, we succeeded in overturning the Government’s decision.
- The phenomenon of the total depreciation of institutions, politics, political figures and forces remains at high levels, which certainly includes the House of Representatives too.
- Finally, the political environment remained conducive to the development of populism, demagogy, derision and destructive leveling, all elements which, inter alia, helped to strengthen the ultra-right, which managed to secure parliamentary representation with two Members of Parliament.
In adverse therefore conditions, we have sought to make full use of the opportunities arising from our participation in Parliament. As always, the AKEL Parliamentary Group aims to contribute towards highlighting and promoting the Party’s political positions, in view of the big challenges facing society, our people and workers, due to the anti-social, authoritarian policies pursued by the Anastasiades’ government.
Objectives – Tasks – Action
With the beginning of the current Parliamentary Session, specific goals and tasks to be implemented have been set, focusing on the assumption of legislative initiatives to solve issues, exercise parliamentary scrutiny over executive power, as well as developing continuous, quality and sincere relations with people, organized groups, institutions and other agencies of society.
The AKEL Parliamentary Group’s activity reflects the collective pursuit for a different contribution to our society and homeland – different in priorities, values and morals. Different, because through our efforts we sought to project a more positive outlook on the economy, society, working people, the middle class, the unemployed, those on low-incomes, the vulnerable groups of the population and youth. All of these efforts are reflected in the Annual Report on our Group’s Parliamentary Action that we, as an organisation, have launched since 2016, aiming to develop an ongoing reciprocal relationship with society and at the same time to provide an assessment about the work being produced.
As a rule, the AKEL-Left-NF MP’s are particularly active, while they are well prepared in their Parliamentary Committees and for the plenary sessions, with proper coordination, with due seriousness and responsibility. Objectively, there are also isolated negative cases that we are trying to address. More emphasis must be placed on promoting policy positions and legislative proposals, but also on projecting our parliamentary work in society itself.
Through the overall activity of the Parliamentary Group, our contacts with the people, as well as communication and cooperation with groups of citizens, bodies and organizations have been strengthened and improved. Through this vibrant, reciprocal relationship and collaboration, our MP’s are taking initiatives and we are always seeking to provide answers to those directly concerned about the actions our Group has taken. There is certainly room for improvement here, too. The fact that new bodies and organizations are constantly being formed, dealing with ever more specialized issues, demands the continuous improvement in our work. In this regard, the involvement of the Party as a whole through the PBO’s remains of paramount importance both in raising problems and in channeling our parliamentary work to society.
Coordination and cooperation with leadership bodies
The coordination and work being done jointly with the Party’s District Committees has created a fertile ground for many initiatives to be taken for highlighting issues, resolving matters of a district and local nature, while MP’s contribute to the day-to-day work of Party District Organizations. Furthermore, within the framework of systematic coordination, the annual monitoring of our parliamentary activity at a district level has been established through meetings of the Parliamentary Spokesperson with the Party Secretaries of District Committees and the MP’s and Parliamentary Assistants of a given District Committee. However, weaknesses have been identified on this specific aspect of our work, which is why an ongoing effort is underway to further improve the situation.
The utilization of and cooperation with the Auxiliary Bureaus of the C.C. has been strengthened, particularly with those Bureaus that function satisfactorily, on issues stemming from bills, for tabling questions to Ministries and government Services, as well as on proposals for tabling draft bills that need to be submitted by the Group. Through this cooperation, we have achieved substantial results. There is no doubt that there is room for improvement, especially as regards taking initiatives, but also because of the growing number of issues that the House must address every year. That is precisely why it is imperative that MP’s attend meetings of the Auxiliary Bureaus on a regular basis.
In spite of the recent improvement in the field of making our rich and varied parliamentary action known to people, especially with regards NGO’s, there is a need to take advantage of all the room for improvement, given the negative media situation against us. In any case, the popularization of our work, must be done by the Party in general. It mustn’t be aimed at self-promotion, nor should it lead to phenomena of dependency on the media and the enhancement of ‘paragontismos’ phenomena.
- The AKEL European Parliament Group
The AKEL Parliamentary Group in Brussels has been operating since 2004 with Cyprus’ accession to the EU and the election of two Members of our Party to the European Parliament and the Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) since then. Our work has become more difficult, both because of the rise of the ultra-right in the European Parliament, as well as the changes that have occurred in our Political Group itself.
The Group coordinates, formulates and decides together the promotion of our positions on a wide range of issues arising from the daily political agenda of the European institutions, and in particular of the European Parliament. At the same time, positions are elaborated on new issues, such as those stemming from the new EU operating conditions; conditions directly linked to the imposition of austerity policies, ongoing militarization, the deepening of the socio-economic crisis, within the framework of the further federalisation and concentration of powers in the Brussels “Directorate”.
Throughout all the years of AKEL’s presence in the EP, we have been actively participating and achieved a lot. We can achieve even more, always bearing in mind our objective size and the wider “EU context”. If anything, it is generally acknowledged that AKEL’s presence in the GUE/NGL has made the Left Group our main pillar of support in the European Parliament itself, especially with regards the Cyprus problem.
AKEL in the European Parliament
Despite weaknesses and problems, the AKEL Parliamentary Group, together with our MEP’s, have carried out a multifaceted work over the years, with the aim of effectively intervening for the benefit of society. This stems from both from the continuous promotion and defence of the positions upheld by the Party and Cyprus, as well as from the formulation and promotion of policies and actions.
The respect AKEL enjoys from all left-wing parties in Europe is such that it enables us to take the initiative and formulate a framework for the functioning of the GUE/NGL. Our presence has proven to be crucial in maintaining the fundamental principles of the Left, but also in the way decisions are made and the very content these decisions will have.
Our 15-year presence and activity as a Party inspires respect and prestige, both within and outside the GUE/NGL, as demonstrated by the support we achieve for our country, in many cases from officials who come from other political spectrums. It is not, after all, accidental that during the visits of the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL to Brussels he is welcomed and meets high-level European officials.
The AKEL EP Parliamentary Group also has the responsibility for organizing Party events/meetings, both in Brussels with Visitor Groups as well as in Cyprus on issues of political relevance. There is a relative homogeneity in the Visitor Groups, which also helps in carrying out political work. At the same time, in cooperation with the Party’s European Affairs Bureau, publications, press reports/statements/articles and other materials are prepared on issues related to the Bureau, our activity and the positions of the Party. Our AKEL Delegation in Brussels is also responsible for representing the Party at Group events and elsewhere.
AKEL – A force for assertion
Primarily focusing on promoting and defending our national cause, we are actively involved in the formulation of Turkey’s EU annual progress report. Due to our own perseverance it has been made possible to maintain an explicit reference to the solution of the Cyprus problem in the Report, that is to say, to a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as outlined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, as well as the reference to a single international personality, a single sovereignty and a single citizenship. At the same time, the fact that negative references to our country were avoided is also due to AKEL’s decisive contribution.
At the same time, we led the efforts for Cyprus’ inclusion in the EU energy map, given that on our own initiative a very important reference to Cyprus’ potential to become a regional energy hub in the Mediterranean region, as well as the need for the EU to support this effort, was incorporated in the Energy Union Report.
At a time when Cyprus is being afflicted by the neoliberal Memoranda policies of austerity, we have stepped up our work in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. Through specific amendments we have tabled, we have struggled to safeguards labour rights, strengthen collective bargaining and promote policies to create new quality and dignified jobs especially for young people.
AKEL and the Confederal Group of GUE/NGL are the clearest voices in the European Parliament against the EU’s militarization and aggressive foreign policy, against “Fortress Europe” and “hard borders”, for solidarity with the struggling peoples and for the peaceful resolution of disputes.
AKEL has fought and raised the issues of movements for the protection of gender equality and equal rights, for the protection of maternity and parental leave. We have highlighted the need to protect public services and goods, including education and health. We have been on the side of the movements fighting to protect the environment and tackle climate change and its impacts on animal welfare, with a view to safeguarding the future of the planet through sustainable development, always focusing on people’s interests and their needs.
Our Party’s wide range of activity in the European Parliament and its content can be considered to be satisfactory. This does not mean, at the same time, that there is no room for improvement and for problems and weaknesses to be overcome. There is a need to integrate to a greater extent our policy and action on the core issues concerning the European Union and any of their reflections in Cyprus into the Party’s overall work in Cyprus, so that AKEL’s work in Brussels is connected to Cypriot reality. On this basis, we consider that:
- There needs to be more public interventions by the Party and corresponding communication with our militants and members.
- Hearings/workshops, in cooperation with the Auxiliary Bureaus and experts, are not organized to a satisfactory level.
- There is a need to intensify already existing contacts more, as well as meetings with agencies and organized groups whose struggles and demands we have defended in the European Parliament, for example the semi-governmental Cyprus Electricity Authority and Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (EAC-CYTA), the Federation of Professional Shopkeepers (POVEK), Educational Organizations, Student Associations, Federation of Environmental Organizations, dock and port workers, as well as workers from services and trade union organisations.
- Better coordination is demanded between the AKEL European Parliament Group and AKEL’s Parliamentary Group in Cyprus, as most of the issues approved in Brussels, in particular the ones concerning harmonisation, are subsequently tabled in national parliaments.
- AKEL’s intervention in Local Government
Local Government has always had a deeply social character. Its partial autonomy vis-à-vis the central state gives it a more democratic character, while its more direct relation with citizens permits it to listen to people’s worries, problems and aspirations more easily. It can make better use of the resources and comparative advantages of each region. It can transform cities and communities into component parts of participatory democracy and social cohesion. Its decisions can make our lives better.
It is no coincidence, therefore, that our Party’s relationship with Local Government has never been opportunistic or circumstantial. For years now, AKEL’s elected representatives in local authorities have been carrying out noteworthy work based on the logic that the city and its functions must serve people and their quality of life on a daily basis.
Today, Local Government is called upon to assume new roles – political, social, developmental, and cultural. Unfortunately, the fragmentation of local government, the outdated legislative framework, centralization and austerity policies, the disparity in responsibilities and resources between Municipalities and Local Communities, and the resulting inequalities, without of course overlooking individual corruption cases, has led to the depreciation and downgrading of local government. This not only hinders the assumption of initiatives for development, but also the local authorities ability to tackle fundamental issues.
Reform of Local self-government
For AKEL the reform of Local Government, therefore, was and remains a necessary condition for releasing the creative forces of local communities and to rid them of the distortions of a state and political system that we all know to be counterproductive.
AKEL is struggling for a modern and progressive reform which, through a broad decentralization of powers, will strengthen t local authorities direct contact with citizens. With the reform of Local Government we want to put an end the degradation of the institution. We want to give a new impetus and assign new powers to Local Government and local communities, aiming at a broad redistribution of political and economic power between central government and local government to the benefit of local citizens.
Discussions on the reform of local government have been ongoing for some time. For the last ten or so years, there have been consecutive studies carried out, some of which have led to the submission of relevant bills too, but without leading to any positive conclusion. AKEL has been at the forefront of the campaign for its Reform and has always made a constructive contribution to this dialogue, focusing on the need for the sustainable and effective development of Local Government to serve people’s interests and needs.
Throughout these years, our contacts with citizens have been crucial for us. That is why we insist that any changes to the map of Local Government must secure the consent and support of local communities themselves and put to referendums.
Positions – Proposals – Contact
Regardless of the course the Reform will take, it is important to constantly make use of the characteristics of the institution to strengthen our contacts with the people.
The collective formulation of positions and proposals, the planning and organization of our AKEL Municipal/Community Groups, the briefing and consultation with Party Base Organisations and the undertaking of joint actions and initiatives to solve local problems are just some of the elements that must characterise our work.
Of paramount importance are the persons we choose to represent us in local authorities. The procedure of preparing our election ballots should not confine itself to just formulating the required number of candidates, even if we have been experiencing difficulties over recent years on this matter. Candidates should be selected who, especially in the development of the institution, do have the knowledge, meet the criteria and demonstrate a willingness to work and maintain close relations with the local community. In addition, there is a need for an ongoing coordination with the Party, ensure accountability to the Party and the electorate, and for an assessment of the work of our Party’s representatives.
Cooperation within the Municipal/Local Community Council itself and the assumption of initiatives for the establishment of institutionalised procedures and forms of social intervention, the effort to achieve convergences, without this compromising on our philosophy as regards the role of Local Government and the character of cities or of local communities, are also important elements. It is important for our work that local communities are kept informed with meetings, campaigns and door-to-door contact in neighborhoods, with the circulation of brochures or interventions in the mass media and social network outlets.
CHAPTER D: AKEL and Mass Organisations – Social Movements
- The participation of AKEL members in Mass Organisations and Social Movements
Modern voluntary work usually develops through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s). It is expressed both in traditional fields and methods (charity work, support for “vulnerable” groups, sports, culture), as well as in new areas of intervention, the product of new social needs (ecology, changing urbanization, anti-racism, feminism, equality issues, LGTBI etc.)
The key element in categorizing these organizations is their relationship with the state. For example, volunteer work viewed as a “charity for the most vulnerable” acts as a substitute for the role the welfare state should be playing. It is in fact an ineffective process, as it does not address the structural social problems. On the contrary, it facilitates the shifting of the state’s own responsibilities on to its citizens, on to private or individual initiatives. But it is also a fact that, in the short run, it helps alleviate some social problems, which is why they are usually viewed more sympathetically generally. Many social care and support programs for vulnerable groups of people have been established and operate thanks to voluntary work, through Community Volunteering Councils or Voluntary Social Organizations.
However, there are also a large number of organized groups that are assertive and critical towards state power. They act as social groups questioning, criticising and exerting pressure, with the main goal of reclaiming public space, defending public goods, expressing social solidarity and defending human rights.
Furthermore, it should be noted that, in this climate of the curbing of rights and democracy, scrutiny over institutions is being weakened, whether through the subordination and dependence of institutions, their inadequate staffing, or even their neglect.
The government’s main effort is to transform movements and agencies into “charity foundations” and to conceal the class dimension of poverty which we distinguish. For this purpose, we note the phenomenon being observed of the selective promotion/projection of non-governmental organizations and the complete depreciation and deprivation of financial resources from those organizations that criticize and demand social-collective solutions and the implementation of social policies.
Despite government policy and practice, there are movements, groups and initiatives that cover a variety of vital areas, with a desire to defend and fight for rights. We have seen, for example, such movements such as the movement to defend the public education system, the assertion of the right to housing, the right to health, the movements against social exclusion and dealing with immigration, environmental protection and others.
Developing initiatives and cooperation
AKEL needs to have a committed, long-standing and reciprocal relationship with social movements and mass organisations/agencies. Weaknesses in this relationship are evident. In several cases, we have left room for the Right, whether organized or at the level of personalities, to intervene and create impressions in this spectrum. In the majority of cases, AKEL doesn’t have a structured relationship with social movements.
Building AKEL’s relationship with social movements and mass organisations will be accomplished by ensuring the role and active involvement of AKEL members and militants inside them. Although many of our members and militants on their initiative are involved and are indeed active in numerous initiatives, nevertheless they don’t often have the required contact and support from AKEL so that they can achieve a more collective and effective intervention. In various cases, these comrades operate independently, without guidance, formulate policies, and take decisions.
However, where Party members manage to activate and mobilise movements/agencies, develop actions/assertions and intervene in society, our Party is credited with this work (for example, the Movement Against Foreclosures etc.). At the same time, policies and positions are being elaborated that in turn help and enrich the Party’s policies and actions and which broaden the Left’s social and political influence.
In conclusion, social movements and agencies are a vehicle that bring us into contact with large social groups from other spectrums, lifting us from an inward looking approach and broadening our political intervention. The presence of AKEL militants and members in these organisations must be characterised by ethos, honesty, respect, responsibility and a serious manner.
As noted above too, these organizations have their own peculiarities. Our activity therefore in this area must accordingly be flexible and diversified, and in no way should it replace their operation. Our relationship with these groups should be characterised by open-mindedness and seeking consensus. It cannot aim at “controlling” them, nor can it be viewed merely as an opportunity to expand our “audience”, but instead as a means of mobilizing society’s forces, broadening our relationship with them, and asserting social policies that are also Party positions.
There are areas where we must to take the initiative to establish NGO’s and through them we can channel our positions and proposals more widely.
Developing contacts and formulating proposals
Towards this end, it is imperative that the Party opens up its work in society through its involvement in mass organisations and social movements. The Party should also monitor and support Party members who are active within social organizations more coherently and consistently. This in turn will also enrich our Party’s policies. At the same time, it will help us to become more specialized and systematic in elaborating policies and developing our contacts with various agencies and social movements, with the ultimate aim of developing and strengthening social cohesion.
It is also important to link the work of our Parliamentary Group with our work among NGO’s, transforming society’s demands into our own demands, promoting them as draft bills in Parliament and providing practical support.
At the same time, we must discuss the modernization of the traditional organizations of the People’s Movement (trade unions, women, farmers) in order to understand in a timely fashion society’s contemporary needs, formulate policies and to have a direct and effective intervention in society, building relations, understanding and alliances and gaining appreciation and winning the people’s trust.
To fulfill all of the above in practice, organizational monitoring, ensuring regular meetings for the elaboration of positions and actions, encouraging our militants to participate in such movements and mass organizations are all necessary, giving clear priority, through the assumption of initiatives and actions, to strengthening employment, solidarity and social cohesion.
- Pensioners’ Movement
AKEL’s steadfast and enduring support towards the struggle to raise pensions, increase social benefits and pensioner’s quality of life are elements that have contributed to AKEL’s esteem among pensioners to particularly high levels.
Through the Union of Cypriot Pensioners (EKYSY, affiliated to the class-based trade union Federation of PEO), a mass, militant and assertive movement has been built, which today is struggling in difficult conditions as a result of the problems and frustration that have been accumulated because of the all-out attack on pensioners’ gains.
In addition to the decisive support that AKEL will continue to render to pensioner’s struggles to improve their standard of living and for a dignified quality of life, the Party must also offer practical assistance to EKYSY local grassroots movements to address organizational problems.
- Peace Movement
The defence of peace is the principal duty of our times. The struggle to maintain peace and its prevalence is not only a struggle against ongoing wars, but also a struggle against the systemic causes that cause them. Peace is being destroyed and undermined by poverty, inequality, exploitation and huge democratic deficits. These conditions highlight as never ever before the need for international solidarity and the peoples to wage struggles. The World Peace Council (WPC), of which the Cyprus Peace Council (CPC) constitutes an integral part of, plays an important role in the anti-imperialist struggle of the peoples, with a rich legacy for a militant continuation of the struggle.
AKEL is at the forefront of the struggle for peace and solidarity, the dismantling of the aggressive military alliances and for the termination of the EU’s aggressive military policies and interventions. The anti-imperialist element of its activity stems from its very ideology. That is precisely why the Party participates and supports the CPC’s actions, with which it maintains relations that have been forged during long joint struggles and mobilizations, to consolidate peace in Cyprus and in the world. Another very important timeless duty is the fostering of strong ties of friendship and the development of a common anti-imperialist struggle with the peace-loving forces within the Turkish Cypriot community.
The intensification of the war and military operations in our region, but also the interventions in the internal affairs of sovereign states resisting imperialism’s plans, demands that we enhance our anti-imperialist actions, the practical expression of solidarity and the joint action of all peace-loving and anti-imperialist forces all over the world. It is our duty to give a mass and broad character to the Peace Movement by developing rich and militant actions in all areas of society and life; to attach a rich content of action to members and friends of the CPC, so that they will become truly active fighters for peace.
SECTION 2: AKEL’S PROPOSALS TO SOCIETY FOR A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE
CHAPTER A: Economy and Labour
- The state of the global economy
The global economy has emerged from an unprecedented in scope crisis of the capitalist system by implementing austerity policies and shifting its burden on to working people’s backs. Austerity was presented as a necessary adjustment to address the economic crisis. However, it continues to be the dominant policy even after the economic crisis. It is the mechanism through which wages are driven downwards and working people’s aspirations are being attacked to serve neoliberal policies. This is a specific class policy that is presented as something natural and unavoidable.
Austerity policies have been institutionalised, adopted and enforced in the European Union as well by the ruling circles. These policies focus on the curbing of the public sector, the dismantling of the welfare state and sustained attacks on working people’s rights and gains. A more extreme expression of these policies is the Memoranda that were imposed on countries in southern Europe, including Cyprus too, which have led to the increase in social inequality. Such is the depth and impact of these austerity policies that the young generation today is the first after a century to live worse than their parents.
The policies pursued to address the crisis have put the burden on the most vulnerable groups of the population, resulting in wealth being concentrated in the hands of a select few, while more people are becoming poorer. Social inequalities have risen sharply. Characteristically we note that just 0.9% of the world’s adult population owns 44% of the world’s wealth. On the “opposite pole”, about three billion people, or over 55% of the world’s adult population, own 6.3 trillion dollars – that is to say, just 1.8% of world’s total wealth. About half of them live on less than $5.5 a day (October 2019 data).
At the same time, public debt has not only fallen, but in most countries it has actually increased, recalling Karl Marx’s remark that “the only piece of so-called national wealth, which in modern peoples truly belongs to the whole people, is their public debt.”
In addition, there are indications that the global economy is on a recession course with the danger of a new economic crisis breaking out visible. In the face of this danger, the various capitalist alliances and major economic powers are resorting to protectionism which they themselves have been demonizing for decades in the name of globalization and free trade or resorting to regulating the terms of trade of groups of states to the detriment of others.
As exploitation and imperialist wars, interventions and military conflicts are increasing, so have migration and the flow of refugees intensified.
Another characteristic of our era is the intensity of extreme weather phenomena stemming from the climate crisis. These are phenomena which are to a large extent related to the capitalist exploitation of the planet’s productive resources, without any concern and obligation to protect the environment. The changes that are demanded cannot be made by a system that puts profits above human life on the planet.
Another characteristic of our times is the pronounced development of technological capabilities. Technological progress, however, is controlled by a small number of technology giant companies, who are making billions in profits and controlling the flow of information and data for each and every one of us.
- The Cyprus economy today
After the period of the systemic crisis and imposition of the haircut on bank deposits that devastated the economy and drastically transferred wealth from the many to the few, as well as the Memoranda policies, the Cyprus economy is in a period of recovery.
Although economic activity is on the recovery, total production output is at an all-time high, unemployment is falling, and public finances are recording a surplus, nevertheless these developments aren’t having a significant positive impact on society and its prosperity. This is because the government remains dogmatically devoted to neoliberal policies, with their main features being the reduction of public investment, the deregulation of labour, the sale of public wealth and property and the dismantling of the welfare state.
The path the Cyprus economy is on cannot meet the needs of society and is creating significant dangers for the future. The growth being recorded directed towards serving big private interests, the structural deterioration in labour and disposable income of households together with the redistribution of wealth and income to the benefit of the privileged few, and the absence of an overall social policy, have loaded the brunt of the crisis on the people and continue to hold society down.
Since the previous Congress up to today the selling off of the Cyprus Cooperative Bank by the N. Anastasiades-DISY government has dealt a major economic and social blow, a fact which has fueled the immunity of the banks and exacerbated the difficulties Small and Medium-size Businesses (SME’s) and households are facing.
The majority of society continues to face significant difficulties, uncertainty and social insecurity. Income and social inequalities remain high, especially in comparison with the rest of the EU countries and a quarter of the population is on the brink of poverty and social exclusion. The cost of living has increased sharply, particularly with regards housing, while essential items and goods (electricity, bread, milk, etc.) are among the most expensive across the EU, also due to the direction the government has given to the developmental model.
In these conditions, the Cyprus economy needs a new vision that should aim at ensuring the fairer distribution of wealth, reducing social inequalities and improving the people’s living standards by creating conditions for bigger production, increased incomes and dignified work.
- For a sustainable economy
Our aim is to build an economy where economic growth, social prosperity and the sustainable use of natural resources will be in harmony.
This will be achieved through a multilevel and multifaceted economic development in which public, private and cooperative initiative will co-exist, co-operate and complement each other. With actions that will challenge the ruling neoliberal policy and place people and their needs at the centre of economic policy.
AKEL’s economic philosophy is based on the following principles:
- Sustainable, balanced and socially-oriented economic growth.
- The fairer distribution of wealth created by society and the sharing of economic burdens, according to the income and economic capability of each and every one.
- Ensuring quality jobs, creating green jobs and improving worker’s rights.
- Respect of the environment and protection of the natural resources from reckless development.
- Control and regulation – to the extent possible – of the functioning of the market for the protection of the economically vulnerable sections of society.
- Establishment of equity, justice and good governance at all levels of economic activity, both in the private, as well as public sectors.
- Reshaping the economy
- Creation of an effective and socially sensitive State that protects and provides support to the economically weaker sections of society.
- Reform of the tax system with a view to establishing a fairer sharing of tax burdens through the taxation of wealth, adoption of incentives for sustainable development and the effective stamping out of tax evasion and corruption.
- Public finances that will support sustainable development and infrastructures, the fairer distribution of wealth produced, enhancement of social cohesion and meeting society’s needs.
- Modernisation of the organization, operation and administration of Public Utility organisations, preserving their public and social character, continuing their support towards the State’s growth strategy.
- Support towards small and medium-sized businesses and self-employed workers who constitute the backbone of the Cyprus economy and strengthening of their position through their technological upgrading and access to accessible funding.
- Development of cooperative economy and the re-establishment of a cooperative credit sector aiming at providing protection to farmers, small and medium-sized businesses, the economically weaker groups of the population and improvement of the country’s growth prospects.
- Creation of a knowledge-based economy by increasing investment in research, innovation and technology.
- Decisive promotion of the digital transformation of the state and economy to improve productivity.
- Strengthen the primary sector and develop the rural economy with the aim of supporting farmers. Rural development by highlighting all the economic, cultural and environmental advantages that characterise it.
- Expand the economy’s productive possibilities by elaborating a new modern industrial policy aimed at eradicating structural weaknesses and modernising the Cypriot manufacturing sector.
- Strengthen Cyprus’ role as an international hub for professional and advisory services by combating corruption, enhancing transparency, tackling bureaucracy and accelerating the administration of justice.
- Further develop the shipping sector by enhancing the services provided.
- Build up our country as a regional educational centre.
- Small and medium-sized businesses
The effects of the economic crisis, the closure of the Co-operative Bank, in combination with the policies of the banks, have dealt a severe blow to the backbone of the Cyprus economy, which is made up of small and medium-sized, mostly family, businesses and the self-employed. Small and medium-sized enterprises are facing very serious problems with a decline in their turnover, the lack of liquidity and financing and the repeated blows they have suffered as a result of the neoliberal policy pursued by the government. The abolition of shop working hours is just one example of the neoliberal government policy implemented to the detriment of working people and small and medium-sized businesses.
To counter and reverse the current disastrous course, AKEL supports the demands and assertions of small and medium-sized businesses and self-employed working people.
AKEL proposes the following:
- Creation of a state-owned funding agency with the aim of channeling funds and liquidity to small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Differentiation of banks’ policies on financing and charging SME’s.
- Protection of the professional premise.
- Regulated benefits and functional shopping hours through a bill.
- Creation of an agency and portal to serve small and medium-sized business in the Ministry of Commerce.
- Promotion of support programs for the technological upgrading and modernization of small and medium-sized businesses.
- Submission of legislation in the House to regulate a number of professional groups and branches.
III. The banking system
Erroneous banking practices and irregular supervision were what caused, according to a Report released by the European Commission, the economic crisis in our country and not public finances. The developments that followed created new realities in the banking system, negative for small and medium-sized borrowers, bank customers, and society in general. The centralization of the banking system, the more favorable institutional and legal framework for the operation of banks to the detriment of small and medium-sized borrowers, the closure of the Cyprus Co-operative Bank and its sale to a private bank have led to the strengthening of the banks’ arbitrariness.
Our policy seeks to establish a stable and credible banking system that effectively finances the needs of households and small and medium-sized businesses, safeguards them against fraudulent illegal charges and abuses and respects their right to dignified housing.
AKEL is seeking the elaboration of a comprehensive developmental strategy focusing on benefiting society. Sustainable tourist development must be the strategic objective by meeting economic and social needs, while simultaneously preserving cultural diversity and an ecological balance. For that purpose, AKEL has elaborated an overall study on tourism.
The main objective must be to diversify our tourist product in the direction of:
- Providing quality services,
- Promoting tourism’s non-dependence on seasonal tourism,
- Unlocking our tourism product from being over-reliant on tour operators.
We propose the following:
- Expanding airplane connections with existing and new destinations, penetrating new markets by providing facilities such as online visa issuance and cooperation with neighboring countries to attract long-distance tourists.
- Creation of new infrastructures and the upgrading of existing tourist units for the development of health – physical and sports, sports, rural, conference and family tourism.
- Implementation of big tourism development projects such as theme parks, conference centres, fishing shelters, berths, diving parks with artificial reefs and mountain resorts.
- Emphasis on the promotion of domestic tourism with plans for subsidized social tourism (pensioners, low incomes, young couples).
- Decisive promotion of tourism in the Troodos mountain area.
- Respect for regulated labour relations, as well as the recruitment of qualified staff according to the standards set by the Human Resources Development Authority, including basic knowledge of the Greek language.
- Establishment of training programmes for unskilled staff and continuous training programs for working people.
- Energy Policy
Energy policy must have a content that will ensure the safeguarding of energy as a social commodity and the combatting of energy poverty for the benefit of society.
The goal of energy policy must be to reduce the country’s energy dependency and price of electricity, as well as to protect the environment and public health.
A key tool in implementing the above policy is the formulation of an overall Energy Strategic Plan covering all aspects of energy strategy in electricity, gas, transport and the economy. A plan that will address with transparency the issues relating to the environment, climate change, renewable energy, sustainable development, energy efficiency and the country’s secure supply of energy.
Cypriot consumers are paying a very high electricity price today. This is due to Cyprus’ total dependence on fossil fuel production, the government’s inability to timely import natural gas and its incapability of integrating Renewable Energy Sources (RES) in a way that will reduce costs for consumers.
To address this very worrying situation, AKEL proposes the following:
- Switching electric power generation to Renewable Energy Sources (RES). The evolution of technology, in the sector combined with the particular climatic features of Cyprus, can provide cheap electricity energy.
- Continuation and extension of the Net Metering program in homes, professional premises and small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Introduction of natural gas for the generation of electricity as soon as possible.
- Operation of the electricity market in such a way so that any benefits that emerge will be reflected in the final cost for citizens.
- Development of a new National Action Plan by 2030. The main objective is to increase RES energy production, reduce greenhouse gases, increase energy efficiency and save energy.
- Promotion of RES community cooperatives.
The discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus in 2011 has created a new situation for Cyprus, new challenges and prospects. The government of Demetris Christofias managed to put Cyprus on the energy map.
Unfortunately, the government has addressed the issue of hydrocarbons more like a communication instrument for internal consumption purposes/expediencies rather than as a tool for the promotion of the solution of the Cyprus problem and the country’s economic development.
In the absence of an overall energy policy, the government ruling forces are focusing on cultivating illusions among the people. Illusions that Cyprus will become an alternative market for Europe and that the construction of the East-Med pipeline is due to start any day now, as well as illusions about the amount of revenues from the sale of natural gas.
International natural gas prices and developments in the global energy market are such that we conclude that the exploitation of Cyprus’ hydrocarbons will not yield significant revenues. It will not reverse the balance of forces and will not transform Cyprus into some superpower in the region. Natural gas must act as an incentive for the solution of the Cyprus problem and reunification of our country and people. The solution of the Cyprus problem remains the ultimate goal and any plans must serve precisely this goal.
Having in mind all of the above:
- The drilling program of the Republic of Cyprus should continue. At the same time, the government must demand from the companies that they fulfill their contractual obligations. The exploitation of the fields by companies must have as its precondition the generation of electricity in Cyprus from natural gas.
- Priority in the plans should be given to the construction of a liquefaction terminal. By doing so, we will generate real growth, attain the possibility of selling natural gas to markets where prices are more advantageous, and that Cyprus is supplied with natural gas for the production of electricity.
- The key strategy must be to transform Cyprus into a regional energy hub and an energy bridge between the European Union and the Middle East.
- Public Utility organisations of general interest
AKEL from a position of principle opposes the privatization of Public Utility Organizations of general interest (PUGI). The privatization of PUGI’s, which are of strategic importance for a country such as Energy, Telecommunications, Water, Ports, Airports and other strategic sectors, is against the interests of working people and society.
These sectors are of vital importance to the state, the economy and society. They are indispensable, inter alia, for the security of a country and its competence in providing services. They need to be under public control and the people’s unhindered access to them should be safeguarded. Speculative private interests are undermining their strategic character and render the state and society captive and dependent on private interests. This argument is even more strengthened in the case of Cyprus, because of its geographical location and size, but also because we are a semi-occupied country.
With privatizations, the big investments that have been made by the state and the wealth produced are handed over at humiliating prices to private capital. International experience has demonstrated that privatization in the long run undermines the very interests of society as a whole, leading to high consumer prices and the deregulation of labour relations.
The Anastasiades government, despite the pledges it made to the contrary from the very first day it took power, has sought to impose sweeping privatizations, exploiting the crisis, the Memorandum and the Troika’s support.
AKEL has set as its political priority the prevention of privatizations. In cooperation with the class-based trade union federation of PEO and the working people’s decisive participation, it was possible to build strong fronts of resistance that gradually found support in society. In combination with AKEL’s steadfast and strong stance in the House of Representatives, the sale of the most important Organizations, namely the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CYTA) and the Cyprus Electricity Authority (AHK), has so far been prevented.
The privatization of the Limassol Port wasn’t avoided, despite the fierce struggles that were waged. What happened with the port of Limassol is proof that privatizations do not serve the public’s interest. This privatization has resulted in reduced state revenues, damaged trade and the Cyprus economy itself, brought high charges and uncertainty, and called into question the very viability of the Port Authority.
There is no doubt that the government will again attempt to promote privatizations. It has already made this clear as regards CYTA.
At the same time, AKEL will continue to:
- Support the preservation of the social character of the PUGI’s.
- Resist the sale of public wealth and property.
- Demand their tidying up and modernization so that they can function more effectively as pillars that support growth and further enhance the state’s finances. It is imperative that their institutional framework is modernized for greater autonomy and flexibility in a way that will permit them to endure and be at the forefront in a competitive environment.
- To support the establishment or re-establishment of a PUGI where it considers it to be in the people’s interest.
- Working people and labour rights
- Working people’s assertions for regulated labour relations
In Cyprus, with the climax of the crisis and election of the right-wing government pursuing neoliberal policies on labour and social issues, the deregulation of labour relations has accelerated rapidly. The decisive factor in this direction was the agreement concluded by Nikos Anastasiades with the Eurogroup and the signing of the Memorandum with the Troika.
With the mass closure of businesses and the sharp rise in unemployment, the trade union movement was forced to pursue the tactic of an organised retreat. The main goal was to keep collective agreements alive and avoid the evident danger of a disorderly retreat outside the control of the trade union movement.
Since 2015, the Movement has been on the counter-attack and is resolutely seeking to restore what had been lost, as well as a fairer redistribution of wealth. It is worth pointing out that in these adverse conditions, together with PEO, we had due to our strong position managed to register significant successes as well, which must be noted. In addition to maintaining the contracts and continuation of the operation of the collective bargaining system, we have been able to prevent the privatization of the semi-governmental organisations CYTA and AHK. We have also succeeded in rescuing the custom of the Automatic Cost of Living Allowance (ATA), though curbed temporarily, with the prospect open of fully restoring it.
The state of labour relations
The labour relations system in Cyprus, which historically was based on a high trade union density and organization that led to the regulation of terms of employment through the application of collective labour agreements and the intervention of the state with the statutory registration of basic labour rights (social insurance, annual leave, working time, equal pay etc.) has begun to be reversed over recent years. Initially, mainly as a result of changes in the composition of employment. On the one hand, reduction of employment in the traditional sectors of the primary and secondary sectors, and on the other, an increase in employment in sectors with low trade union representation/organisation (for example, in trade) or the emergence of new economic sectors where the trade union movement could not penetrate yet. In recent years, however, this reversal has been exacerbated by the prevalence of neoliberalism and the ideological narratives that accompany it.
Just like across the whole of Europe and the world generally, in Cyprus capital and its political representatives have used the country’s accession to the European Union and subsequently the Eurozone, as well as the rapid sharp rise in unemployment, to undermine the regulation and protection of labour safeguarded through collective agreements. They have promoted flexibility in employment and new forms of work organization to undermine the organisation of workers into trade unions by intimidating working people and vilifying collective assertion and struggle.
These developments have led to a decline in the participation rate in trade union organisations – which currently stands at around 50% and for that reason this has subsequently led to the reversal in the balance of forces. A large section of workers, especially young workers, have been alienated from the process of collective assertion, thus depriving them of elementary labour rights and protection and they are being paid low wages.
In the midst of the crisis, employers’ associations – assisted by the government – have also brought back the issue of regulating the right to strike in essential services. The attempt failed because of the fierce resistance of our Party and the trade union movement as a whole. The intention, however, though inactive, remains alive.
However, the labour relations system that has been operating for decades has as a precondition the balance of forces between trade unions and employers’ associations. From the moment this balance of power has been drastically reversed to the detriment of working people, the state must defend labour rights through institutional and legislative measures to ensure collective agreements are not only drawn up, but are also implemented by everyone.
- Labour and wages
These neoliberal policies were implemented in a particularly intense and acute way during the crisis. The policy pursued by the Right-wing government and ‘institutions’ (IMF, EU and ECB) to deal with the deep economic crisis of capitalism, which in Cyprus manifested itself in the financial system in Cyprus, became the vehicle for launching an all-out attack by capital to promote flexibility in labour relations and the depreciation of labour.
The phenomenon of the deregulation of work has assumed extensive dimensions, such as the non-implementation of agreed collective labour agreements by all businesses, the promotion of personal contracts for newly hired workers and EU community workers, outsourcing, pseudo-employment by the method of purchasing services (an mechanism of employment that was developed especially in the public and wider public sector).
The result of this policy has been that the cost of the crisis has been shifted exclusively on to the backs of the working people: workers’ pay and pensions have suffered an unprecedented blow, while tens of thousands of workers have found themselves unemployed and others led to underemployment or forced into accepting unacceptable terms of employment and working conditions.
Real wages had fallen by 11% by the end of summer 2014. In the period following the Cyprus economy’s return to high growth rates, and although wages have benefited from deflation and slight increases, real wages are still lagging by 8% in mid-2019 compared to 2010.
The incomes of the working family has also been affected by the steep rise in unemployment and/or deterioration in the quality of work. During the crisis, unemployment, long-term unemployment and youth unemployment, part-time and temporary employment, saw an explosive increase. During the same period, thousands of workers left Cyprus, trying to find work or migrated abroad because of the general uncertainty.
The situation in the labour market has improved. Unemployment fell to 6.7%, but remains 3% above pre-crisis levels. Secondary employment indicators are also improving, however, they too have not returned to pre-crisis levels. Unemployment among young people remains particularly high at 20.4%.
As a result of the above processes, during the crisis and implementation of the Memorandum Program, an unprecedented shift in the distribution of national income to the business sector took place to the benefit of capital. Working people’s share of earnings, starting in 2013 up to 2015, declined by 7.5%, falling from 55.5% to 48%. During the economy’s ‘recovery’, there was only a marginal increase in this share and a stabilization below 50% was recorded, a fact which suggests that a new income-sharing system favoring profits and capital’s incomes may have been established.
III. Social insurance
Social insurance, the main pillar of social protection and solidarity, has also been hit hard by the crisis and implementation of the Memorandum programme. A number of changes have been imposed, which on the one have made access to benefits and rights more difficult, and on the other, abolished allowances or curbed the amount of other benefits. Among them the actuarial reduction of everything stands out, of 12% of old-age pensions for those who choose to retire at the age of 63 and the adjustment (increase) of the retirement age depending on the evolution of life expectancy. Pensioner’s living standards have also been affected by the austerity policies and cuts in social expenditure imposed by the government. Thousands of low-income pensioners have lost the low-income benefit, while granting of the Easter bonus allowance was limited to just a few thousand low-income pensioners, in effect eliminating the benefits of the pensioner card.
- Quality work with rights
Our Party is aware of the current situation in the labour market, in relation to the rights, salary/wages and social protection of an ordinary family and working people. It does not remain a mere spectator of developments. It analyzes them, formulates and struggles for its positions, coordinates and asserts together with the class-oriented worker’s movement. It assesses its actions and defines medium-term action plans to support working people’s struggles, strengthen the mass base of the workers movement, restore the incomes of working-class families, shake off the burdens that the Memoranda policies loaded on working people’s backs.
The attempt by capital and the forces representing it in the trade union movement and politically for the promotion of deregulation and flexibility in employment, the depreciation of labour and its transformation into a mere commercial commodity, whose price goes up and down according to capital’s appetite, came up against the organised struggle and resistance of the trade union movement and the means which this movement has at its disposal to defend working people’s interests.
A significant victory recorded by the trade union movement is, for example, the fact that the trade union movement has imposed within the framework of a tripartite collective agreement, the legislative obligation for the implementation of the basic provisions of the collective agreement in the two major sectoral contracts, namely regarding the construction and hotel workers, thus making the state’s intervention in the reregulation of labour relations imperative. This success also paves the way for the establishment of a minimum wage across the whole spectrum of the economy, which should not be arbitrary, but directly linked to collective bargaining and collective contracts.
AKEL considers that the Cyprus labour relations system, which is based on the formulation of terms of employment through the conclusion of collective agreements between workers and employers’ organizations and tripartite agreements on working conditions between the government and workers and workers’ organizations and the employers, demands the existence of mass and powerful unions. The strongest guarantee for the implementation of a collective contract or agreement is the strength of the trade union movement itself.
With the aim of tackling the effects of deregulation and restoring the balance of power that has been reversed in recent years to the benefit of capital, AKEL supports the struggles of the trade union movement for:
- Promotion of legislation that obliges employers to implement agreed collective agreements.
- Termination of the purchase of services to cover the permanent needs of the public and semi-public sector.
- Legal regulations that should define the characteristics that govern the relationship between employer-employee. A draft bill has already been elaborated and submitted by AKEL for this purpose.
- Legislation for the establishment of a trilateral consultation and negotiation mechanism that will set minimum wage conditions and basic labour rights (13th month salary, overtime, holidays) for those workers who are not covered by collective agreements.
The demand so that through legislative interventions labour relations should be protected from the disorganisation and deregulation in no way implies the desire to reverse the system of free collective bargaining. On the contrary, the goal is to save and protect this system by enhancing its effectiveness in practice.
AKEL considers that any legislative initiative must be the outcome of structured collective bargaining and an agreement. Regulation by law represents a circumstantial need and certainly does not constitute a substitute for collective action and the struggle of workers through mass and powerful trade unions.
At the same time, in the period ahead, the struggles of the working people, which the Party will back by all means, must focus on restoring the lost incomes of working families and pensioners, supporting the unemployed, the socially vulnerable groups of the population and the thousands of workers whose needs have driven them into unpaid and/or uninsured jobs. Indicatively and not exhaustively, AKEL supports and fights for:
- The extension of unemployment benefit from 6 to 9 months so that the support provided is also granted to the long-term unemployed whose numbers have increased significantly in recent years,
- Facilitating the access of the long-term unemployed to the Minimum Guaranteed Income with a targeted differentiation of the preconditions, aiming at securing an income upon the end of unemployment benefit,
- Full restoration of the Automatic Cost of Living Allowance without regressions on the philosophy that governs it as a means of replenishing the purchasing power of wages,
- Strengthening the labour inspection mechanism and increasing the frequency of controls for combating violations of labour legislation, in particular those relating to undeclared and uninsured work,
- Improve and simplify the application process in order to accelerate the payment of the first assistance, allowance or pension,
- Progressive revision of the philosophy governing grants from the Social Insurance Fund (SIA) so that these are adapted to a working family’s modern needs,
- Activate the policy charted by the Christofias government for the creation a real reserve of the Social Insurance Fund and the elaboration a government debt repayment program towards the Fund,
- Adoption of an appropriate legislative framework for the SIA’s investment policy with the participation of the social actors,
- Deactivate and abolish the mechanism for the adjustment of the retirement age in line with life expectancy.
CHAPTER B: State and society
- A modern, progressive state
- Welfare State
A modern progressive state, of course, presupposes that a modern progressive social policy is pursued through which a fairer redistribution of wealth and the adoption of policies and interventions reducing social inequalities is achieved.
The state must ensure that all people have equal access to and enjoy basic rights such as the right to education, health, housing, adequate social protection and support.
The neoliberal economic policy pursued by the Anastasiades-DISY government has affected social policy too. Social expenditure, especially during the period of the deep economic crisis, has been reduced, as well as spending on health, education and housing. Social benefits have been cut.
The neoliberal notion of limiting state intervention and the state’s role in social policy is leading to the closure of state structures and social protection programs, as well as to putting an increasingly greater burden on the voluntary – private sector.
The introduction of the Minimum Guaranteed Income did not lead to an expansion of social policy, but rather to a redistribution of resources from the poor to the poorer. Public social organizations have been inactive for many years and housing policy has virtually been abolished. The public health sector system and public hospitals are suffering from serious shortages in investment, infrastructures and human resources.
For AKEL, investment in social policy, education, housing and health is a productive investment in the economy’s growth. This demands a substantial increase in public spending on social policy.
- Housing Social Policy
Every person has the right to dignified and affordable housing. Today the vast majority of people in Cypriot society, the young, the low and middle income strata, students, immigrants and the vulnerable groups of the population face severe obstacles in acquiring decent housing.
Rents have risen enormously, getting a loan is almost impossible for the majority of working people, and government housing programs are inadequate. The foreclosures of primary family homes are a reality. The problem of homelessness is now a stark reality in Cyprus too.
AKEL is fighting for a comprehensive socially-oriented housing policy.
- Emphasis needs to be placed on state-owned and local government housing construction programs, which should be granted either with low rents or rented according to socio-economic criteria.
- Introduction of a rent subsidy scheme based on socio-economic criteria and the improvement of existing rent subsidy schemes for refugees, students, Minimum Guaranteed Income (MGI) recipients. Equal treatment of asylum seekers with the recipients of the MGI in the subsidy of rents.
- Substantial improvement in the plans and incentives for families who wish to make use of an existing home or to build a home for permanent settlement in the countryside.
III. Combatting poverty and social inequalities
People with Disabilities
The full enjoyment of rights for people with disabilities as set out in the UN Convention for people with disabilities, which our country ratified in 2011, is a key demand of people with disabilities.
The achievement of this goal presupposes the implementation of a coherent overall strategy with measures and actions that will have as their starting point the principle that the cost created by a specific disability concerns society, constitutes a social and not an individual responsibility.
AKEL’s key priorities for the full realization of the rights of people with disabilities are the following:
- Introduction of specialized legislation defining the social and financial support that a person with a disability is entitled to on the basis of their disability.
- Introduction of effective measures for the implementation of the accessibility principle.
- Creation by the state and local authorities of adequate infrastructures for the provision of social support, socialization and recreation, protection and vocational training of people with disabilities.
- Effective implementation of the quota law for the recruitment of people with disabilities in the public and wider public sector and the extension of the quota principle to the private sector.
- Correct implementation of the legislation and UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities on the role of a social involved partner which the Federation of disability organizations must have.
Pensioners – the elderly
Elderly people have the right to be respected and receive the support of the state with the goal of ensuring them a dignified quality of life.
The fulfillment of this goal demands the provision of adequate pensions and establishment of a network of services to provide care, social support, recreation and leisure, and the social integration of the elderly on the other.
We assert for pensioners:
- The abolition of the actuarial reduction of the pension for those who opt to retire at the age of 63.
- Increase in low pensions and the restoration of all the reductions that pensioner’s benefits have suffered.
- Improvement of the criteria for the provision of home care through the legislation for the MGI and the extension of programmes and care structures, creative employment and socialization of the elderly.
Support for families
Cyprus across the EU is bottom of the fertility rate table. A comprehensive policy to provide support to families and children, as well as policies for effective support towards various types of families, is absent. The cost of infant and baby care services is particularly high for young couples on low and middle incomes.
AKEL considers that an overall family policy aimed at tackling the ever-increasing demographic problem must include:
- The establishment of an adequate network of care structures and crèche facilities for infants, babies and schoolchildren at an affordable price by the state and local authorities.
- Subsidise the cost of child care based on socio-economic criteria.
- Recognition of families with three children as large families. Improving the criteria and amount of child and single-parent benefits.
- Increasing maternity leave.
- Development and implementation of psychosocial preparation and support programs for parents to carry o0ut their parental duties.
Structures exercising social policy
The Social Welfare Services (SWS) are one of the most decisive pillars in the state’s effort to chart and implement social protection and social support policies, as well as to build political and legal mechanisms to respond to the constantly changing social conditions and problems.
Particularly in modern societies with the complexities social problems cause, as a result of growing inequalities, the emergence of new forms of poverty, the exacerbation of social problems such as domestic violence, the dysfunctioning of families, problems of alienation and others, the role SWS’s are called upon to play has long ceased being the role of services focusing solely on benefits.
Structures, as they have been organised today, cannot fulfill this role.
The problems of SWS’s have been exacerbated and intensified by the neoliberal policies pursued by the government in recent years in the field of social policy.
Aiming at the radical modernization of the SWS’s, AKEL proposes the following:
- Decentralization of the structures and the delivery of services for exercising social policy from the central government to local authorities.
- Provision of community-based services.
- Creation of specialized services within the SWS’s in areas such as domestic violence, school social work, social work in the context of health and mental health, prisons, the National Guard etc.
- Improved working conditions for staff, more efficient allocation of workload based on expertise, reinforcement with the necessary human resources and cultivation of a climate of good cooperation, respect and confidence in the users of services.
- Functioning of inter-departmental and inter-ministerial multi-thematic scientific teams on a permanent basis.
The reorganization of SWS’s and their orientation towards the provision of community services by local authority agencies create the preconditions for social protection structures to be assumed by public organisations, while simultaneously giving space to social organizations and voluntary bodies to focus on their role as the voice of society, vulnerable groups of the population and service users.
Support to the refugees (of the 1974 war)
While the government of Demetris Christofias in a targeted way charted a new refugee policy by supporting all refugees, with a significant increase in allowances, the construction of new refugee homes, the separation of many land plots and allocation of property titles, the Anastasiades-DISY government has taken decisions which has seen this refugee policy reversed. It has proceed to abolish the programs for: the allocation of self-housing plots, the construction of new homes in settlements of displaced persons and of new apartment buildings in government refugee settlements, the granting of a compensation plot for displaced persons living in Turkish Cypriot homes and the reconstruction of refugee state settlements.
Refugee policy should aim to:
- Share the burden of the 1974 invasion and occupation on everyone and not just on the displaced persons/refugees.
- Enhance the possibility of displaced persons to housing. Improve housing plans for refugees. Restore the schemes granting plots of land and financial assistance for the construction of homes, reactivate the scheme to build apartment buildings in refugee settlements. A substantial increase in the economic grant for the purchase or construction of housing for families with incomes below 35,000 euros.
- Upgrading the quality of life in the refugee settlements by restructuring them and implementing infrastructure projects.
- Making the best use of Turkish Cypriot properties and enriching the programs of the Central Agency of Equal Distribution of Burden.
- A society without discriminations and with equal rights
- Combating discrimination
A progressive democratic society in which discrimination and inequality are perpetuated or human rights curbed is inconceivable. Unfortunately, in the current conditions where neoliberal policies across the world and in Cyprus too are increasing, discriminations are cultivated and deepening. These include class and political discrimination, gender discrimination, discrimination based on ethnic/racial, religious and social differences or according to sexual orientation, as well as discriminations based on disability and age.
In the absence of a comprehensive strategy and the institutionalization of effective anti-discrimination mechanisms, discriminations are ongoing and reproduced in various ways. This is done through the transmission of a chauvinist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic discourse and hate rhetoric in the public discourse and/or through the tolerance shown towards related criminal acts and/or the absence of adequate educational programs in schools, the public service and at the workplace. Equally dangerous is the mass media’s non-compliance with the Code of Conduct on how it should report news and events related to victims of discrimination and the indirect promotion of discrimination in the way information/news is presented.
AKEL opposes all expressions of discrimination. The Party, both inside and outside the House of Representatives, will continue to fight for a society based on equality, equal rights and the protection of human rights for all.
In this regard, AKEL insists on the need to:
- Adopt a national action plan following a public consultation and in cooperation with independent experts for the consolidation of human rights.
- Incorporate human rights and the combating of discrimination into the school curriculum and the organisation of educational seminars for all public officials.
- Institutionalise a mechanism for monitoring and combating discrimination and violent incidents.
- Approval of action plans to combat institutional racism in all state and non-state agencies.
- Strengthen the powers and responsibilities of the Authority Against Racism and Discriminations.
- Equality between men and women
The struggle for equality still faces the sexism of the most conservative circles of society, the religious and patriarchal establishment order. But now, the gains and position of women themselves are being threatened by the rise of the ultra-right around the world, which brings with it – apart from racism, anti-communism and homophobia – fascism’s backward-looking outlooks on women and equality. At the same time, however, distorted notions have been made even among the female gender from other starting points; notions that it is “a matter of time” before gender equality is achieved and that female emancipation can be attained on a personal or family level. There are even perceptions that restrict the issue to that of the percentage of women’s participation in decision-making centres or the implementation of some EU directives.
The fundamental difference in our own perception of the woman’s issue is that we approach the struggle for gender equality not as a confrontation between men and women, but as a struggle against the socio-economic system that reproduces human exploitation, inequality, oppression, patriarchal structures and the perceptions accompanying them.
The Anastasiades – DISY government, adopting policies of extreme neoliberalism and tough austerity that have hit women the most, has subsequently reduced the opportunities for women’s social and political activity, cut social benefits and support infrastructures for women, while simultaneously demonstrating criminal indifference with regards the implementation of the Republic of Cyprus’ contractual obligations stemming from international conventions and the fight against violence against women. Moreover, government policy on gender equality issues as anti-working people policies is particularly harmful to working women. State and government indifference to issues such as the provision of support for single parent families, women’s health policy and sexual education are also recorded. The fact that during the years of the Anastasiades – DISY government, Cyprus has fallen behind in the global and European gender equality tables is not a coincidence at all.
The defence of gender equality across all the spectrum of social activity is an indispensable precondition for ensuring a non-discriminatory society where all citizens can enjoy equal opportunities and rights.
The cause of gender equality must become a priority for both society and the Left. AKEL will continue to be the leading force in the House of Representatives on gender equality and women’s rights issues. It must continue to take the lead in taking even more radical legislative initiatives, drawing on international experience.
As regards equality between men and women, AKEL will continue to work for:
- Curbing female unemployment fighting for full, stable and dignified jobs.
- Effective measures to combat inequality.
- Increase controls to combat the arbitrariness shown by employers towards pregnant working women, support the rights of young working mothers and strengthen their protection.
- Granting the opportunity for taking paternity leave after maternity leave expires. Granting paternity leave without marriage or cohabitation being a precondition.
- Introduction of a paid parental leave scheme.
- Social, political and institutional measures and infrastructures to support maternity as a social responsibility and the equal distribution of family responsibilities.
- Adoption of measures aimed at preventing and addressing all forms of violence against women, including the review of the reservations set by the Republic of Cyprus with regards the Istanbul Convention.
- Actions for the horizontal combatting of gender stereotypes in Education, the mass media and institutions.
- Modernization of the Code of Ethics to cover offenses against the personality and sexuality of women.
- Full protection of women’s sexual and reproductive rights.
- Establishment of a Unified Equality Authority that will bring together all bodies and institutions for equality, sufficiently funded and staffed which should have strong responsibilities for: submitting legislative proposals to the Ministerial Council, monitoring and assessing gender equality policies and submitting relevant reports, pointing out obligations to the government and state agencies, as well as executive powers to address complaints.
III. Combating racism and xenophobia
Poverty, exploitation and inequality, but also ongoing wars provoked by the capitalist system and serving the interests of the imperialist states are driving millions of people into forced migration. The problem has deteriorated, especially in recent years.
In Europe, the issue primarily concerns the crisis in the reception and integration of refugees and immigrants. Despite issuing declarations about human rights to the contrary, the policies of the EU aim to restrict refugees and immigrants outside the borders of the member states. Those who do not enter the member states face ghetto conditions. By themselves, these policies promote racism and xenophobia, while the failure to promote the equal integration of immigrants subsequently creates the conditions for them to become the target of racist attacks.
Unfortunately, the Anastasiades government also expresses these unacceptable policies, highlighted in the most tragic way by the institutional racism that permitted the case of the serial killer to act unhindered, leading to the deaths of immigrant women and children.
AKEL will continue to assert:
- Implementation of a comprehensive program to brief immigrants and refugees about the full range of their rights and obligations, upon their entry into the Republic of Cyprus.
- Implementation of all the measures necessary for effective international protection, dignified living and equal integration of refugees and asylum-seekers into society.
- Adoption of practical measures that make it possible and/or improve access to government services.
- Transparent, fair and effective immigration policy. This requires replacing anachronistic colonial legislation with a modern democratic framework based on rights and equal inclusion and that would incorporate the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
- Review of the Strategic Employment of Foreign Workers on the basis of the Principle of Equal Treatment in Employment, with the main objective of combating the exploitation of migrants at work.
- Decisive radical changes in the institutional framework to combat human trafficking for sexual and/or occupational exploitation in order to avoid the effective repression, the prevention of this serious crime and protection of victims.
A fundamental principle that governs a modern and democratic state is the total separation of Church and State. AKEL is neither hostile to the Church, nor to the religious conscience of anyone. On the contrary, throughout its history AKEL has been respectful. However, it does oppose ecclesiastical and the Archbishop’s interventions in political life and the educational system, but also the economic and political interwoven interests surrounding the Church’s business activity. The practical separation of Church and State is in the well-intentioned interests of both the State and the Church and presupposes:
– Full regulation of the economic obligations of the Church of Cyprus and transparency in its business relationships with the state.
– Termination of the Church’s interventions in education and promotion of secularism in the educational system.
– Constitutional amendments to put an end to the anachronistic privileges of the Church in relation to its property.
– Modernisation of family law.
- Measures to combat discrimination against LGBTI people at work.
- Strengthen and enforce legislation regarding homophobic and transphobic hate rhetoric.
- Safeguard the right to the legal recognition of gender identity.
- End discrimination in child adoption and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
3 For a humane-centred Education
Educational levels continue to be connected to the class structure of society. Social inequalities fuel educational exclusions or inequalities in educational levels, and exclusions or inequalities exacerbate social inequalities. The situation in Cyprus, as well as across the whole of Europe, has deteriorated because of the neoliberal onslaught. Particularly in the current neoliberal conditions, the systematic use of the educational system by the ruling class to intensify the perpetuation of the system and reinforce its position in society is intensifying with all that this entails: educational inequalities, downgrading of young people’s all-round education, the transition from education to training.
In the five years under review the main characteristic of developments in our country’s Education is the all-out attack launched by the Anastasiades – DISY government against the public school system and the organized attempt to impose a mixture of neoliberal and conservative measures in schools. The climax of the crisis that erupted in Education in the summer of 2018 was provoked by the government’s principal goal of undermining the public school system. The unilateral measures taken by the government ruling forces against teachers were eventually taken back after the victory of the teachers with the support of school students and the most progressive section of society, but the government’s organized efforts with the mass media’s help to depreciate teachers and the attacks on the public school system remained.
A classic example of the government’s conservatism is the imposition of holding exams every four months in Secondary Education (the attempt to impose exams in elementary schools has also been temporarily withdrawn). The essence of the government ruling force’s insistence – and those who identify with them – is the introduction of the neoliberal principle of “measurability” in education as in businesses too. Emphasis is placed on memorisation and not on actual learning and acquiring skills. Hence the excessive focus on the evaluation of a school pupil.
Another example of conservatism is the new regulations on the operation of schools. Their philosophy leads to the creation of a school governed by an authoritarian logic, with pupils as mere pawns, which is in conflict with the vision of a free and democratic school. At the same time, the government ruling forces support the private at the expense of public education, while there are also the most extreme voices in the ruling DISY party who question the responsibility of the state to provide public and free education for all.
The Anastasiades – DISY government is imposing fragmentary changes on various levels of education, promoting the interests it serves and indeed often in an amateurish and hasty way. An overall plan is absent, as well as a central contemporary vision for Cyprus and our children that can respond to modern needs.
Higher and university education
The Party considers the contribution and development of universities in our country as important, where 3 public and 5 private universities and numerous colleges operate. Apart from its contribution to education, tertiary/higher education contributes to 5% of the GDP and employs a significant number of working people. We consider the implementation of neoliberal policies in public universities, promoted by the Anastasiades government and imposed by university authorities, are of particular concern. These policies seek to subordinate education to the logic of the market, the promotion of models of academic business entrepreneurship and the submission to specific interests that undermine academic freedom and autonomy.
Through these policies the attempt underway is to put public universities on the gradual path of privatization and their subordination to the logic of the so-called “free market” and depreciation of labour. The employment of a significant number of young academics on a precarious regime of flexible, dispensable, part-time and badly-paid employment, so-called “Specialist Scientists”, is also part of the practices pursued in line with this policy. Today already 1/3 of academic staff in both public and private universities is made up of working people employed under this employment status. That’s precisely why we support the just struggle waged by the trade union of the working people on precarious employment (Union of Doctoral Scientists Teaching and Research – DEDE) and their strike in 2018. Unemployment and precariousness are driving thousands of our young people to emigrate seeking to find a job abroad.
AKEL backs the academic community fighting for the further institutional strengthening of academic autonomy and freedom. It considers this public space of democracy, knowledge, reflection, creation and culture as extremely important. For that reason it is necessary to upgrade the quality of education, ensure academic freedom and dignified terms and conditions of employment, both in the private and public sectors, to enhance inter-university cooperation and research, safeguard the conditions and terms of functioning and work, and combat job insecurity.
Another key component of the Anastasiades-DISY government is its authoritarianism and cronyism/clientelism. Phenomena of racist behaviour, organized vote rigging in school student elections by the representative of the Ministry of Education (as noted by the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights – Ombudsman), postings according to party-allegiance criteria and “Aristotle program” type scandals, prove that many of the negative practices in the field of education start and are encouraged by the government ruling forces and the leadership of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth.
AKEL’s vision is the nurturing of young people with an all-round education and knowledge who will have the possibility to learn continuously, synthesize knowledge and acquire social, cultural and political sensitivities, to be active and beneficial to society and serve the values of freedom, democracy, patriotism, equality and social justice. Our vision is for a free and democratic school, far from any social exclusion and learning contrasts, for a school based on democracy and dialogue, where children are shown by teachers to discover knowledge, a school of joy, happiness, a school of the arts and creation.
To achieve these goals, we propose:
- Introduction of a compulsory single fourteen year education.
- Establishment of one more year of compulsory schooling before preschool education.
- Financial and pedagogical support, with the necessary infrastructure for Public Schools. Substantial increase in the funding of School Boards and the upgrading of the logistic infrastructures of schools.
- Establishing a merit-based system for evaluating educationalists and their educational work, with the primary objective of empowering our teachers so that they can offer better services.
- Modernization and expansion of the single and optional all-day school.
- Upgrading and supporting a unified special education so that no child with disabilities is victimized in the education system (AKEL has submitted a comprehensive proposal to the Ministry of Education and Science on this issue).
- Modernization and all-round reorganization of evening schools and evening technical schools (AKEL has submitted a comprehensive proposal to the Ministry of Education and Science).
- Creation of new technical schools especially in the periphery of cities, so that Technical Education can meet the increased demand. Support and upgrade of sports and Music Schools.
- Support and modernization of state training institutes.
- Enhancement and upgrading of state student welfare.
- Transformation of Cyprus into a regional education centre providing quality higher education, giving a leading role to public universities too.
- Ending the philosophy of reinforcing the exam-centred character of schools by abolishing the four-monthly exam system.
- Modernisation of student’s assessments with the aim of educating and cultivating critical thinking.
- Creation of a comprehensive support plan for children with delinquent behaviour at school, focusing on providing psychological, social and pedagogical support.
- Significant increase in the number of educational psychologists and counselors so that they can carry out with their work.
- Health: humane and patient-centred, quality and universal service
In times of socio-economic crisis and economic inequality, the safeguarding of the right to health and medical care has never been more necessary. Health is a right and social commodity that a state is obliged to provide for its citizens.
The health sector in Cyprus is in a bad state, on the one hand, due to the increasing commercialization and on the other, as a result of the failure of public hospitals to meet the needs of a modern, humane and patient-centred and quality health care system.
Competitiveness and profiteering speculation lead health becoming a right for the privileged few who have the financial capability, at the same time as a large section of society is excluded from having the same level of access to health care. This is precisely why the full implementation of the National Health Scheme (NHS) is so imperative.
Today’s reality – the NHS
On 1st June 2019, through conflicts, political unassertiveness, indecisiveness and regressions, but also because of the deliberate policy of downgrading the public health system imposed by the Anastasiades – DISY government, the implementation of a single-insurance NHS began. The NHS began because AKEL strongly supported its implementation, both inside and outside parliament.
The progress of the NHS to date confirms the great need Cypriot society had f a NHS, particularly those on low and middle incomes, for a universal, equitable and accessible health system based on solidarity. The NHS is currently facing problems. It is imperative that we systematically monitor its implementation and functioning and intervene decisively to resolve problems, improve the level of services provided and safeguard the philosophy and principles underlying the NHS.
At the same time, it is important to strengthen the independence of the Health Insurance Agency to ensure sound administration, the separation of powers and protection from political interferences in the management of the fund, as well as from phenomena of non-transparency and corruption.
The role of the public sector is central
The austerity policy and the overload of work – due mainly to the economic crisis – in the public sector have inevitably led to the creation of waiting lists, queues, shortages in medicines and consumables, and other serious day-to-day operational problems. Excessive workloads, low morale, low incomes and frustration are driving doctors and nurses out of public hospitals which further aggravates the situation.
The government, following a policy of delays, has led the public sector to stagnation, decay, social defamation, contraction and marginalization. At the same time, the government has extended the dangerous phenomenon of monopolization and selling off of services by downgrading and dismantling the corresponding state services (services for cancer patients, etc.). Projects that were promoted, for example transplant and radiotherapy projects, have been led to dissolution or decline.
We support the modernization and reorganization of state hospitals to make them more efficient and competitive by maintaining their social role and character. Hospitals must be non-profit and socially beneficial organisations, with autonomy in decision-making, financially self-reliant and self-sustaining. A key aspect of their operation is the establishment of an internal and external audit mechanism and the exercise of annual financial scrutiny by an independent state mechanism, as well as the carrying out of systematic qualitive control.
To fulfill the goal for public hospitals to constitute the backbone of the NHS and a point of reference for the Health Sector, and play their role effectively within the NHS environment, it is necessary to:
- Reach an agreement on the organizational structure, set-up and staffing of Nurses and Medical Centres, which will be strengthened through the agreed provisions for the Autonomy of State Hospitals within the framework of the NHS.
- Introduction of modern, scientifically sound clinical protocols and guidelines and systematic qualitive control in all hospitals to protect both patients, as well as working people.
- An essential and integral factor in upgrading the health system is the overall improvement of the position of Health Professionals and field workers in terms of scientific, professional, working conditions, pay, pensions and employment contracts. We insist on the full and exclusive employment of doctors in public hospitals.
- Strengthening of public hospitals with all the necessary clinical and specialized units and the upgrading of their infrastructure in general.
- Creation and strengthening, where needed, of Health Centres to fully cover the entire population.
To upgrade the Health Sector we propose the following:
- Comprehensive education policy for professionals employed in the health sector.
- Adoption and implementation of therapy methods with validity, flexibility and a high degree of success.
- Full computerization of hospitals, the introduction of e-health, which has been held up. Organization and operation of an agency to collect and credibly analyse statistical data for research purposes and improvement of the healthcare provided.
- Change in the organizational structure of the Ministry of Health, so that it is line with the demands of the NHS, which assigns to the Ministry a guiding and strategic role.
- Implementation of the custom of Medical Work in enterprises as provided by law
- Introduction and expansion of prevention policies on an organised basis to reduce illness/injury.
- Upgrading of the services provided to the disabled and paraplegics.
- Further expansion and strengthening of community nursing.
- Creation of an independent Institute of Forensic Sciences (IDE), which will include departments that have so far been scattered under the auspices of various Ministries and Services
- Establishment of a Chamber for the Promotion of Medical Tourism in Cyprus and the promotion of synergies with the aim of attracting investments for specialized health farms in rural and mountainous areas.
- Creation of a National Medicines Agency with the responsibility of authorizing safe, effective and quality medicines and their monitoring after their circulation.
- Provision of incentives for the further development of pharmaceutical research, innovation and industry in Cyprus.
- Foundation of a Drug Information Centre and introduction of the Clinical Pharmacist custom in the environment of autonomous hospitals.
- Establishment of an independent Schools Medical Service with the cooperation of government and private doctors, which will expand its services to nutrition and hygiene issues in all schools.
- Granting of new approved, specialized pharmaceutical products on the basis of modern, scientifically documented protocols.
- Creation of reference centres and elaboration of a national strategy for each group of patients.
- The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cyprus was established by the Christofias Government and must be completed without any unnecessary conflicts, through democratic and transparent processes, creating synergies with clinical practitioners so we can achieve its complete operation and development. The Faculty of Medicine and Academic Medicine should be a key factor in the ongoing modernization of health, research and development, as well as the continuous upgrading of Medical Science.
- Adopt holistic policies to address rare diseases.
- Strengthening the institution of rehabilitation centres and their integration into the NHS.
- Modernization of institutions – combatting corruption
The phenomena of interwoven interests and corruption in Cypriot society, which are unfortunately increasing due to the lack of transparency and effective control mechanisms, vindicate AKEL’s insistence on the need for initiatives to be undertaken that must effectively combat long-standing ills undermining people’s trust in the state and institutions.
The magnitude of corruption in our country is reflected in the World Bank’s 2018 Report, which notes that since 2013, when Nicos Anastasiades and DISY assumed power, Cyprus has seen the biggest increase in corruption across the EU. This is actually the latest in a series of reports released by international organizations, European institutions and non-governmental organizations, as well as the revelations made by foreign news agencies about the unprecedented growth of corruption in Cyprus.
Unfortunately, AKEL’s efforts over the years to effectively combat the phenomena of interwoven interests and corruption, phenomena that further alienate citizens from participating in public affairs, stumble on the lack of political will, first and foremost on the part of the government and other political forces.
We have always been submitting proposals, some of which have been promoted through legislation on the establishment of independent institutions and officials, the improvement of people’s access to the state and its services, for audit control and accountability of numerous agencies/bodies.
In today’s conditions, the demand for the further strengthening meritocracy, transparency and accountability of all is a necessity. This makes the need to increase scrutiny and prevention mechanisms, as well as those to stamp out and punish such phenomena, imperative.
In the effort to radically confront the phenomena of interwoven interests and corruption, which entails changing mentalities and a different higher social awareness, the constant effort to educate the party membership and society as a whole all play a decisive role. For the Left a society that tolerates such phenomena, or worse still reproduces them, isn’t healthy. As for the Party itself, and in particular its militants, the timeless and constant demand for honesty and the need to guide society by the strength of our own example is a pressing need. Otherwise, our distinctive role within the society stemming also from our ideological outlook will be undermined.
AKEL will continue to table proposals and take initiatives that, as institutional and practical measures, can be summarized as follows:
- Modernisation of the Public Service aiming at enhancing transparency in decision-making and in people’s relations with public administration, the promotion of e-government and introduction of objective, measurable criteria in the recruitment and assessment process of civil/public servants.
- Institutional regulation to restrict terms of office in various state posts and interchangeability in key public service positions.
- Possibility of public scrutiny of all tenders that are awarded by the public and semi-public sector.
- Expanding the list of scrutinised persons for the purpose of submitting an asset and fund-source declaration, which should include, among other things, the three powers (executive, legislative and judicial) and in general all those who are managing public finances exercising authority or those who by their status take important decisions affecting public finances or public administration.
- Legislative regulation of the financial activities of non-governmental organizations with a view to ensuring transparency and scrutiny over their funding.
- Disclosure of the audited accounts of the mass media, while simultaneously informing public opinion of the beneficial owners, including subsidiary and affiliated companies.
- Full regulation of the financial obligations of the Church of Cyprus and transparency in its business relationship with the state.
- Complete separation of the state and the Church.
- Modernisation of the institutional and legislative framework governing the bidding and purchasing of armament programs, always taking into account the aspect of national security and the confidentiality governing the defence sector.
- Mandatory confiscation of the property of former and current state officials and public officials, who are convicted of offenses of tax evasion, embezzlement and theft of public money.
- Legislative regulation of more severe penalties so that the consequences from a possible committing of offenses against the State are dissuasive.
- Making use of international experience in monitoring policies and systems.
- Improving people’s accessibility to Authorities, in particular with regard to securing public documents, service and transparency with regards decisions affecting them, through public hearings and accountability.
- Implementation of effective internal control mechanisms in every Ministry, Semi-Governmental Organization or public authority. Setting up corresponding citizen complaints services.
- Modernization, but also effective implementation of legislation on the conflict of interest and clash of interests of government and state officials.
- Justice and security
- Justice system
The legislative framework that safeguards citizens’ sense of justice, as well as the administration of Justice in a way that should be and appear as objectively impartial, is the quintessence of the social contract of each progressive democratic state with its citizens. The scandals that have plagued Cypriot society and the state have not been effectively combatted and the public’s interest has not been safeguarded during the seven-year Anastasiades-DISY government, provoking public sentiment. In addition, legislation promoted by the present government to protect the banking sector and support big capital have undermined the rule of law, as they have even led to imprisonment of citizens who should normally have been protected. At the same time, with retrospective objections rights have been curbed.
The conclusion that the justice system in Cyprus faces problems, such as, for example, the long delay in the administration of justice, is unfortunately being confirmed by people themselves on a daily basis. The deficiencies inherent in the functioning in the field of Justice are also being confirmed by relevant officials and reports submitted by experts.
A decisive pillar for the safeguarding of the rule of law is:
- The progressive direction of legislation,
- Timely administration of justice,
- Impartiality that is currently being disputed as a result of the conflicts of interest that have damaged Justice.
Bearing this in mind, AKEL attaches great importance to the efforts to promote relevant reforms, which are a collective demand and a social need. We shall, acting in this direction as always creatively and responsibly, continue to submit positions, opinions and proposals for real, effective, impartial and speedy administration of justice in a transparent manner.
Our basic proposals are:
- Ensuring the right of access to justice, regardless of income. Extension of the right to legal aid on the basis of socio-economic criteria.
- Modernization of Institutions and simplification of Civil Procedure procedures. Modernization and effectiveness of the enforcement of judgments.
- Separation of the Supreme Court into a Supreme Court and a Supreme Constitutional Court.
- Establishment of a Commercial Court and Small Claims Tribunal to relieve the burden of work in District Courts.
- A radical revision of the Criminal Code in a progressive direction.
- Establishment of a Juvenile Court with the simultaneous establishment of a comprehensive penitentiary policy exclusively for juvenile offenders.
- Strengthening the Office of the Commissioner for Legislation to make the revision and modernisation of the law possible.
- Establishment of judicial training procedures in cooperation with the judiciary.
- Creation of a School for the training of judges.
- Immediate implementation of e-justice.
- Adoption of transparent procedures for the appointment and promotion of judges.
- Further strengthening and modernization of the Legal Service, which shall include the creation of a specialized and unified Department of Public Prosecution.
- Establishment of a Standing Committee on the Review of Law.
- The Security System
Intertwined with the field of justice and the rule of law is the area of public order and security. The government’s use of the security sector to serve its own political interests is causing major problems in the functioning and effectiveness of the Police.
Among other things, we propose the following in the field of Security:
- Enhance the labour rights of the members of the Police and regulation of their service based on transparent and merit-based procedures.
- Upgrading the logistical infrastructure and utilization of modern technologies, especially for the prevention and elimination of white collar crime and child pornography.
- Meritocratic and objective recruitment and promotion procedures, far from petty-party or other considerations.
- Completion of the legislative framework to prevent and tackle interwoven interests and corruption in the Police force.
- Revision and modernization of the Laws and Regulations on the Police Force.
- Radical reorientation of the prison system by strengthening programs that reduce the risk of ex-convicts re-offending.
- Creation of a separate Social Reintegration Service for ex-convicts.
- Strengthen the practice of conditional release and the introduction of transparent criteria in the process of granting pardons.
- Improving the procedures for implementing alternative sentences for addicts.
- Revision of structures and improvement of infrastructures in Central Prisons, as well as in other places of detention.
As regards the Cyprus Intelligence Service (KYP) we propose:
- Adoption of Regulations on the functionality and democratic control/scrutiny of the Agency’s activities.
- Completion of the efforts to transfer and ensure society’s access to the historical archive of KYP, particularly in relation to critical periods of Cyprus’ history.
CHAPTER C: For a better quality of life
- The Environment:
For a new model of sustainable development
Cyprus lags far behind in the EU on environmental issues. In recent years, we have witnessed a dangerous targeting of development for “all types of development regardless of environmental costs”. Fundamental parameters regarding the protection of the natural environment, such as sensitive ecosystems, nature conservation areas and beach protection zones and the marine area itself, are in many cases in danger for the promotion of development projects.
The deterioration of climate change over the last 50 years has a direct impact on the quality of life of the world’s living organisms, while at the same time the Earth is on the verge of deregulation, with the risk of self-destruction.
What is called the “environment”, that is to say, the immediate, wider area where we live and work, needs protection and upgrading to continue to provide us with what is indispensable for our very survival.
AKEL is struggling for a model of Sustainable Development that is in line with fundamental social and environmental principles, such as the right of everyone, as well as the future generations too, to live in a healthy environment. AKEL defends the precautionary principle against any possible environmental damage and burden, the respect for natural and anthropogenic ecosystems and the rational management of limited natural resources, which it regards as collective and social goods. Green development, as presented principally by the European Union, is inadequate and will not produce the desired results. While it may reduce environmental degradation, it does not however reduce social inequalities and does not increase employment.
At this critical juncture for our species and planet, AKEL is struggling against the threats and consequences of the climate crisis by proposing feasible solutions seeking to curb the phenomena.
Among our priorities are the following:
- Institutional upgrading of all state environmental structures.
- Respect and enforcement of all environmental laws, including the respect and compliance with the relevant legislations for the assessment of Environmental impacts from projects.
- Unified water management.
- The demand for a “Cyprus free of Genetically Modified Organisms”.
- Protection of biodiversity, the proper management of fossil and water resources, preservation of the quality of the air in combination with the correct management of air pollutant emissions and various waste currents.
- Rational and sustainable exploitation of RES for the benefit of society, with a primary focus on protecting the natural environment.
All of the above are essential for the preservation of the environment and constitute a key component of sustainable development. We once again point out that the issue of ecological destruction is a profoundly political question and the degree of organization of the forces, which are resisting the destructive path that is being pursued, is expected to determine the future of tomorrow’s generations. AKEL will be at the forefront of this struggle
- Town planning and development
The planning and control of development in Cyprus is governed by the provisions of the Urban Planning and Planning Law and Development Plans. These provide for land use usage, the density of development, key infrastructure projects, proposals and policies for desirable and undesirable development.
There are very serious problems in the implementation of the legislation concerning the fragmentation of licensing principles and the multiple division of powers. Particular problems also arise as a result of the lack of scrutiny after the licensing of projects, with irregularities verging on lawlessness.
In recent years, the problems have been exacerbated by a series of Government decisions that give out generous town planning incentives, with the recovery of developmental activity in Cyprus as a pretext. Through constant extensions, expansions and incentives on a permanent footing the town planning system has been driven to complete disintegration.
Democratic procedures and EU directives governing urban planning are being substantially violated and serious town planning is being done without usual procedures being observed, scientific documentation, the necessary consultation and participation of the people. Without studies being carried out and planning, towers and skyscrapers are springing up, the natural environment is being destroyed, infrastructure problems are created, traffic congestion is increased and our cultural heritage is being destroyed.
AKEL’s position is that development needs a strong urban planning system to guide, promote and regulate the development of cities and the countryside. This system must serve the real needs of the country, respecting the identity of Cyprus and its people, with an emphasis on people’s quality of life, the environment and the principles of sustainability.
Within this framework, AKEL proposes:
- Modernisation of the procedure for building development, licensing control, issuing title deeds and the transfer of immovable property. A key element of the system must be the establishment of participatory processes and transparency in decision-making.
- Simplification of technical legislation, unification of services and creation of unified development principles.
- Enforce the full respect for development plans.
- Elaboration of the Island Plan to define socio-economic objectives and structures in a spatial dimension. This will also include maritime planning and the development of coastal areas, quarries, energy centres, RES, heavy livestock and industrial development, transport, protection areas and the environment, distribution of the main uses of services, education, tourism, culture, compensation policy etc.
- Modernization of Local Plans and the development of new ones with the aim of gradually replacing the Planning Policy Statement.
- Traffic question- Urban Transport system
To be functional and sustainable, a city needs a scientifically substantiated plan that regulates and guides its development and an integrated road network, a component part of that plan.
The planning for road network is done in such a way so that every road should play a specific role. Unfortunately, local plans have been abolished in our country. Anyone can develop whatever he/she wants, wherever they want, with the tolerance or support of the relevant authorities. As a result, a situation was created whereby in many cases anarchy prevails.
This situation has turned the Cypriot driver, according to surveys carried out, into a nervous, impatient, careless and dangerous driver, a fact which plays a major role in the increase recorded in the number of accidents which have become a scourge.
To address these problems, AKEL proposes:
- End the illegal licensing of buildings that are not provided for in development plans by local and central authorities.
- The plan for a modern, flexible, credible and well-designed public transport system must begin immediately.
- The separation of commercial roads and roads of primary importance must be specified. Each road must be given the specific role it must serve and should be planned accordingly.
- The projects that have been planned for road networks should be completed swiftly and work on roads, intersections and the widening of roads should proceed immediately.
- Traffic lights need to be replaced by “smart traffic lights” that will regulate the movement of vehicles accordingly.
- Culture and cultural development
Cultural creation is an indispensable precondition for every society seeking its all-round cultural and intellectual development, a society that respects itself and aspires to achieve genuine progress.
In our homeland, true art and culture constitute an additional great asset for our people in their struggle against the occupation and division. An asset that can make a decisive contribution towards creating favourable conditions not only for the solution of the Cyprus problem, but also for peace and our people’s prosperity to prevail.
The government has devalued culture in general by canceling significant infrastructure projects, even those it itself included in its own election programmes.
AKEL puts Culture at the forefront of its political activity. Cultural creation is present in all aspects of its activity. The Party provides a platform and a voice to cultural artists, while simultaneously supporting their just demands. However, it principally submits proposals to support and promote cultural creation for all the Arts.
AKEL’s proposals, inter alia, include the following:
- The decisive promotion of the establishment of a Deputy Ministry of Culture with the aim of serving the arts/culture and its people.
- Significant increase in the funding allocated for culture by ensuring transparency and meritocracy in its distribution. A radical revision of the criteria for subsidizing Culture Agencies, far from the logic of “competitiveness” and the “market”, is demanded.
- Elaboration of a Strategic Plan for Culture with particular emphasis on supporting, projecting and promoting Cypriot cultural creation, as well as the recording, preservation and projection of the rich cultural heritage of Cyprus.
- Institutional safeguarding of the participation of Cultural Agencies/Organisations in decision-making procedures.
- Maintenance, upgrading and construction of new cultural infrastructures which should respond to the need for the free access of all citizens.
- Protection and promotion of our cultural heritage (material and abstract). Intensify actions for the effective operation of the Cultural Heritage Archives Register.
- Decisive promotion of the procedures for the construction of the new Archaeological Museum, while preserving its public character. Promote the construction of a Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
- Advance the construction of a new State Library.
- Substantive support should be given for theatrical activity, significant increase in the funding for theatres and theatrical development. Evaluation and progressive modernization of the “Thymeli” programme to subsidise non-state theatre so that its needs are addressed and meritocracy and equity in sponsorships are ensured.
- Carrying out of a study to expand the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra so that it can become a full orchestra, as orchestras otherwise operate in most countries. The government’s decisions, highlighted by the decision to transfer the Foundation from auspices of the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Finance, represent a negative development.
- Creation of a Cinema Centre for the promotion and projection of Cypriot films, the development and production of films and creation of a film archive.
- Upgrading the Music Information Centre to save, archive, promote and enhance contemporary music creation.
- Deepening of artistic education. Upgrading the institution of Music Schools, school theatre and other cultural activities within schools. In Higher Education, we are seeking to upgrade and expand the Technical University (TEPAK) Faculty of Fine Arts and the formation of a Department of Music in all public universities.
- Decisive support towards cultural artists. Issues such as collective agreements, social insurance and copyright issues must be addressed.
- Restoration of the honorary allowance granted to pensioned cultural artists, which was cut by the Nikos Anastasiades government.
- Monitoring and effective measures to implement legislation for enriching public buildings with works of art.
- Substantial support for literary activity and the promotion of Cyprus books and literacy. Enrichment of all libraries with works by Cypriot authors.
The plethora of social sports for every citizen’s engagement in sports opportunities and the cleaning up of sports agencies/organisations at all levels represent the key pillars of our vision on sport.
In the field of sport, the situation is characterised by contradictions. On the one hand, our athlete’s international successes, and on the other, serious problems in sports federations. On the one hand the European successes of our football clubs and on the other the devaluation of football championships by a big section of football fans. On the one hand, the serious role of the social role of sports and local clubs, while on the other hand, they all face numerous problems.
Sport, as a social commodity, has been undermined by its commercialization. All sorts of expediencies and negative phenomena are undermining it from fulfilling its social role. Mismanagement, the laundering of public money, interwoven interests, nepotism, entrenched administrative rings, manipulation of institutions and agencies, fixed matches and illegal gambling, doping, violence, racism and xenophobia make the waging of a constant struggle for their stamping out imperative. Recognising the influence sports have on youth has never been so important and that young people tend to depreciate the values that are conveyed through sport, there is an urgent need to act in order to make society more aware of the efforts that need to be made so that these phenomena undermining sports are combatted.
AKEL’s main objectives in relation to sports include:
- Implementation of lifelong exercise programs.
- Upgrading the guiding role of the Cyprus Sports Federation (KOA) and the elaboration and development of a relevant National Strategy.
- Coupling of school and club-level sports.
- Good governance and democratisation of sports agencies and meritocratic allocation of funds to all agencies. Use of sports facilities belonging to KOA with charges that should not strangle sport agencies, to the benefit of federations, clubs/associations and athletes.
- Upgrading of the system of delivering justice, tackling sports rings and fixed matches.
- Strengthening the agencies promoting social sport.
- Provide support to local clubs and promotion of low-cost sports.
- Combating violence, doping and xenophobia.
- Comprehensive plan to build sports infrastructure so as to enhance social and amateur sports.
- Struggle against addictions
The phenomenon of the use and abuse of addictive substances, whether legal and illegal, is an acute social problem and one of the major challenges modern capitalist societies face. It is now clear that the causes that give birth to addiction are reflected in the indicators of unemployment and underemployment, social insecurity, the commercialization of relationships, alienation and estrangement of people, the growing marginalisation and social exclusion of specific groups of the population.
For this reason, the Left views the issue of substance dependence and dependencies generally in relation to the overall problems that are currently plaguing working people, the self-employed, the unemployed, young scientists, women, youth, families, LGBTI people and immigrants.
Although Cyprus faces a smaller problem in comparison to the rest of EU member states in the use of illicit substances, this should not make us complacent especially since Cyprus is recording extremely alarming percentages with regards the consumption of alcohol, but also gambling among adolescents.
The multidimensional and multi-factorial nature of the problem demonstrates that both the causes and consequences of the use of addictive substances are multifaceted and therefore demand a multi-thematic, balanced and overall approach. Our priority should be to put forth a set of policies and measures that should cover prevention, crackdown, treatment, reduction of the harm caused and promotion of social reintegration. According to relevant studies carried out, the Anastasiades government allocates for each Euro it spends to prevent dependence, it allocates 44 Euros to crackdown on it. Both from a moral, as well as an economic point of view, the government’s policy is in a mess.
The aim of the State should be to prevent the use of drugs, especially among young people, to reduce the use, dependence and harmful effects of drug use, as well as to limit the illicit drug market. At the same time, the de-stigmatisation of persons with a substance dependency problem is a fundamental precondition that can lead these individuals to seek treatment, as well as an obligation of the state towards our fellow human beings who need support instead of being marginalized. Finally, Cypriot society needs to take seriously the problem of adolescent access to alcohol, but also the dependence on gambling which is now being socialised in the current socio-economic context and even portrayed by the government itself as an opportunity for ‘growth (Note: the development of casinos).
To enhance the struggle against addictions, AKEL proposes the following:
- Strengthen the State’s support for the work of the Cyprus National Addictions Authority, both by increasing funds and through the establishment a broader supportive framework to address addictions.
- Promoting preventive programs aimed at creating a preventive environment with regards the use of addictive substances.
- Include in the Strategy for the Treatment of Addictions other addictive behaviours, such as the excessive use of the Internet and video games.
- Promote measures to tackle the abuse and dependence on legal and illegal substances, such as tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs and new synthetic substances.
- Promotion of policies that should be scientifically substantiated with their effectiveness evaluated and corresponding to Cypriot reality, so that without wasting money, a proper investment of the funds can be made.
- Operating new and enhancing existing reintegration and assistance programs for former users and addicts and their families, by providing a full range of services for pharmaco-medical, psychological and social therapy.
- Continuous enhancement of the support and hosting mechanism for underage users and dependents without a supportive environment.
- Support and implement the policies of the National Strategy in relation to Gambling on legal and illegal substances, gambling. The national strategy must be based on scientifically sound, balanced policies on prevention/treatment/social rehabilitation/reduction of the harm and in the supply.
- Strengthening Local Authorities to promote the prevention of use at a community level.
SECTION 3: INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS AND THE CYPRUS PROBLEM
CHAPTER A: International situation
The international situation in recent years has been characterized by increased instability and growing uncertainty, a fact that creates unpredictable developments that pose dangers for the peoples. To a large extent, developments internationally are determined by the deepening of the systemic crisis of capitalism, which has intensified the frictions between the various capitalist centres. At the same time, the imposition of the neoliberal model on a global scale has already driven large masses of working people, in all continents, to poverty and marginalization. This crisis finds ways out in increasing aggression, escalating conflicts and opening up new fronts, which in turn lead to the increase in the demand for arms and weapons and the mutually reinforcing development of a war industry generating massive profits.
Militarisation is a dominant element, both at a regional and global level. In the effort to achieve global hegemony (and control of resources and corridors transporting energy and raw materials), the United States tops the table on military spending, while at the same time imposing on its NATO allies military spending of 2% of their GDP with negative consequences for the living standards of the peoples. The EU, in close cooperation with NATO, is developing numerous forms of military deployment, with the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) as the high point, in which the Republic of Cyprus also participates. Both Russia and China, but also regional forces, are taking part in this new arms race, while smaller countries are also being dragged into this race because of the increased dangers they feel.
The US announcements for the military use of space, which are already in the process of being implemented, are part and parcel of this framework. At the same time, the withdrawal or intention of the US to withdraw from international disarmament agreements (such as the agreement to reduce and abolish intermediate-range nuclear forces INF) constitutes an additional destabilising factor.
NATO, in the 70 years of its existence, is a growing source of threat. It is stepping up its actions by now defining the People’s Republic of China – apart from the Russian Federation – as representing a threat to the Alliance. The vital space, which NATO is arbitrarily asserting, spreads out from eastern Europe to the Russian Federation, to the south of the Mediterranean, to the Arab countries, but also to South America. In its arsenal, it insists on maintaining a mixture of nuclear and conventional weapons, rendering the hope of achieving nuclear disarmament distant, while constantly adding new technologies, such as 5G and means for conducting hybrid warfare.
AKEL has a firm position against the transformation of the EU into a military formation, against Cyprus’ participation in PESCO and against Cyprus’ membership or commitment in any way to NATO and the use of its territory for launching attacks against third countries.
US aggression has registered a new upsurge under the current government, which is stepping up its use of trade wars and returning to older dogmas, such as the Monroe doctrine. In Latin America, an all-out attack on left and anti-imperialist governments and forces is underway. The obedient representatives of the US have managed to deal severe blows to the progressive steps of development for the benefit of the peoples and disengagement from the US. Until recently, the interventions of the US in south America were confined to the carrying out of political and constitutional coup d’états (such as for example in Brazil), but have now returned to the methods of bloody interventions and military coups (as they did in Bolivia). In this illegal machination, the US are also making use of the Organization of American States (OAS), which promotes the lies and methods of the United States. The ultimate goal is to annihilate the forces that are not willing to succumb and yield to the will of the United States, to their political and military domination, but also to the control of all the sources of natural wealth, such as for example Bolivia’s lithium. They are seeking for Venezuela to lose all support and to isolate Cuba. Cuba’s 60-year economic, trade and financial blockade is intensifying on a daily basis, while the small openings in Cuban-US relations are being abolished. A similar blockade, through numerous sanctions, is also being imposed on Venezuela too. Venezuela is resisting, despite the constant attacks and existing problems. Cuba remains a shining beacon for socialism and freedom, for the dignity of its people, while it offers its practical solidarity to a large number of countries.
The whole of the Middle East has been suffering for many years because of the interventions of both the United States and their allies seeking to secure the control of this strategically important region, but also its energy sources. Imperialist interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the transformation of Syria’s territory into an arena of confrontation through the waging of a proxy war and the arming of Islamist groups for the imposition of pro-American regimes have completely destabalised the region, causing enormous material and human catastrophes and waves of refugees. The creation of a “constructive chaos” has claimed thousands of lives, destroyed the economies and state structures of countries such as Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is continuing an undeclared war. As far as the results of the so-called “Arab Spring” are concerned, they have been painful for the peoples, with the rise of extremist and reactionary backward-looking movements.
These developments have also harmed the struggle of the Palestinian people, displacing the problem from the central position it occupied. The daily crimes being committed by the State of Israel against the Palestinians and the impunity the international community has shown towards it, the fait accompli of the occupation coupled with the expansion of the settlements, the recognition by the US of Jerusalem as an indivisible capital of Israel and of supposed Israeli “sovereignty” over the Golan Heights are aiming to render a two-state solution impossible. AKEL stands in solidarity with and supports the progressive and peace-loving forces in Palestine and in Israel struggling for the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders.
Following the recent developments in US-Iranian relations, particularly after the US withdrawal from the agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, the imposition of new sanctions with very serious consequences for the Iranian people and the killing of an Iranian official by the US in violation of international law, the whole region was on the brink of war. We denounce the actions of the US and stand in favour of the rights and freedoms of the Iranian people.
The large waves of refugees and immigrants caused by the ongoing conflicts, the neo-colonial policies imposed and the effects of climate change are considered a threat. The victims of these policies are confronted with walls, laws and regulations in the US and “Fortress Europe”, while the EU is signing agreements constructing detention centres beyond its borders. Many thousands of human lives have been lost in the Mediterranean Sea in recent years as a result of omissions and oblivious policies being pursued.
The military interventions and attempts to impose regime-change are flagrantly in breach of international law, violating the principles of the respect for the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and the principle of non-interference in their internal affairs. Diplomacy and political solutions have been replaced by the language of military might, with the United Nations being sidelined as an international framework for the solution of disputes.
Seventy-five years after its foundation, the United Nations without doubt needs changes to make it more just and democratic with regards its participation and to be more effective in its intervention to maintain/achieve peace. In the face of imperialism’s growing aggression, the UN needs to be supported, adhere to its principles and protect states and peoples for whom it represents the only means of protection.
The imposition of the neoliberal model in most countries, in all continents, has led to misery and poverty for working people. Recently, there have been widespread mass protests across a number of countries for similar social demands (health, education, pensions, cost of living) and against corruption (France, Spain, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, India, Sudan), without however these protests having an organizational structure, at least in their early stages, with a tendency against the involvement of political parties and organizations. Of particular importance are the mobilisations in Chile, the first country to impose neoliberalism through a coup d’état and military dictatorship. It seems that the Chilean people have begun to achieve the goal of abolishing the dictatorial constitution, which imposed privatizations in all sectors.
The growth and spread of ultra-right and neo-fascist forces is not only being observed on the European continent. It is also happening in the American continent (for example, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela) and in Asia (India). This growth is also due to the economic crisis, which is being exploited by populist forces, that in fact are cooperating with conservative forces and participate in government coalitions, but also due to the weakness of communist parties and the Left to put forth positions and policies that the masses would accept as feasible and practicable. The far-right forces are cooperating and coordinating their actions at a regional and international level, which must make us vigilant and on high alert.
Seventy-five years after the Anti-Fascist Victory of the Peoples, an ideological attack is being waged using lies, seeking to falsify history and manipulate societies to exonerate and pardon fascism, shamelessly equating it with communism (for example, the recent resolution 9/2019 approved by the European Parliament). The ultimate goal is to suppress any resistance and struggle against capitalist exploitation and oppression, to conceal the class nature of the contradictions and problems.
Today, cooperation and coordination between communist parties for joint action is necessary. Joint action to express solidarity with the struggling peoples, for peace, disarmament and the dissolution of NATO, against nuclear weapons and for the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, to protect our planet, so that we can deliver it to future generations. This is the reason why the struggle for socialism has become timelier than ever.
At the same time, AKEL will continue to exercise control over the current government’s one-dimensional and dangerous foreign policy and seek – through parliamentary action, its public positions and involvement in international institutions and forums – the return to a multidimensional foreign policy that was pursued by previous governments, and in particular that of comrade Demetris Christofias. Unfortunately, the policy of the government and ruling DISY party to turn our country into an advanced outpost of the West and as Israel’s shield, the opening up to Saudi Arabia and the moves away from positions of principle on the Middle East problem, are creating dangers for our island and people. At the same time, they harm our relations with traditional friends of Cyprus. The Cyprus-US Declaration of Intent for Cooperation in the field of Security and the support given by DISY towards the Menendez-Rubio Act, which, among other things, essentially seeks to involve our country in the plans of the US and their allies in the region and bring about a rupture in our traditionally friendly relations with Russia. All of this undermines Cyprus’ credibility when it itself invokes international law.
CHAPTER B: The European Union
Today, the peoples of Europe – including the people of Cyprus too – have gained enough experience to draw conclusions about the EU. The deadlocks, inequalities and contradictions that the EU produces and faces cannot be overlooked or concealed. The growing social discontent and people’s abstention from European elections, the inter-European contradictions and competitions, Brexit, are all elements that compel the leaders of the EU to declare their “concern for the future of the EU” without, of course, renouncing the policies and strategies that are provoking the dead ends.
Our Party’s long-standing position on the capitalist character of the EU is being vindicated, daily, by the processes that are deepening EU’s integration, in the direction of neoliberalism in the economy, militarization in international relations and anti-democratic functioning, where the sovereignty of states and of the peoples is being curbed dramatically and transferred to the level of the EU.
The EU has elaborated and imposed the necessary legal framework for the dismantling of the welfare state, de-industrialisation and the brutal redistribution of wealth to the benefit of the privileged few. The European Monetary Union, the Euro and the Banking Union are instruments deepening these guidelines. The Lisbon Treaty, continuing the concentration of powers to Brussels, has institutionalised neoliberalism, given that it generates more austerity by now prohibiting member states from implementing their own economic policies. Debts are being imposed on the peoples as a means of ensuring their dependency, at the same time as banking and multinational capital is strengthened. The peoples are being driven into poverty, labour relations deregulated, the welfare state dismantled and human and social rights are being ruthlessly attacked.
At the same time, the EU is participating in geopolitical competitions with other powerful centres of the world. The fundamental axis of the EU’s foreign and security policy remains the deepening of complementarity with NATO. The militarization of the EU is proceeding more decisively and intensely, with the creation of permanent military structures, the “investment shift” in the arms war industry and technology, the institutionalization of PESCO, the deployment of military missions for intervention in various corners of the world.
The immigration and refugee issues are undoubtedly one of the main issues that have been of concern to the EU and European societies in recent years, while representing the main spearhead of the rhetoric used by xenophobic Right and ultra-right parties in Europe. A key pillar of the EU’s policy remains the “Fortress Europe” doctrine, which is implemented through a web of laws and policies, for the suppression of migrant and refugee flows, while the “tap” opens whenever big capital needs a cheap labour force.
The issue of democratic functioning, transparency, and the effective parity of the member states within the structure of the EU is one of the most discussed European issues. Of course, in our view, the democratic deficit of the EU is not just an issue of functioning and procedures. It is a structural issue and has a class character, given that the ruling class and the powerful interests are dominant to the detriment of the peoples, citizens, trade union organisations and movements.
Faced with these deadlocks, the truly progressive answer lies in the struggle for an alternative Europe. After all, the Left has never rejected the idea of unifying our continent, in which peoples, nations, languages, religions and cultures will coexist, because in our view regional unifications represent a step forward in historical development. The question is “What kind of Europe do we want?” and “Who should it serve?” We categorically reply that we want a Europe of peace, social equality, democracy, cooperation and open multicultural societies. The Europe of the Peoples and Socialism.
- A Europe that will serve its peoples and their needs, those who produce the wealth and drive the economy: the working people.
- A Europe of peace and cooperation with all the peoples of the world.
- A Europe of rights and freedoms.
- A Europe of democracy and the sovereign equality of its states.
AKEL will continue to make use of every podium and opportunity that the capacity the Republic of Cyprus as a member state of the EU offers to defend the rights of our country and people; to contain the anti-social measures and policies of the EU; to constantly promote radical proposals in the people’s interests, both inside and outside the European Parliament; to project goals of struggle for the present needs of the peoples and workers. Fully aware of the real character of the EU and existing negative political balance of forces at a European level, we choose the path of struggle that links – both in theory and in practice – today’s struggles with the vision for tomorrow. This is, after all, the way in which the Left gains the confidence of the masses, becomes acknowledged as their pioneering force and paves the way for great social changes and ruptures.
CHAPTER C: The Situation in Turkey
A characteristic feature of the period under review in Turkey is the adoption of the presidential system, but also the strengthening of the cooperation between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the ultra-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP). It should be pointed out that the presidential system in Turkey is characterized by an over-concentration of powers in the hands of the President of the state and a definite weakening of all mechanisms of scrutiny and balancing of executive power. The country’s parliament has been weakened, with the judiciary and mass media under the direct or indirect control of Erdogan’s power.
Turkey is plagued by an internal crisis with its main characteristics being the realignment of the forces within state institutions and polarization, focusing on the different identities. These characteristics create the preconditions of a sharp division of society and the concealment of real problems, which concern a wide range of issues, such as the economy and poverty, as well as the Kurdish problem. Confrontations permeate the entire spectrum of the political system, with a key characteristic the competition for the economic domination of specific groups of the Turkish ruling class. It is a fact that at this current stage the coalition in power is demonstrating examples of its corrosion and weakening. But it is also a fact that the heterogeneity of the opposition, as well as its internal differences, focusing on the Kurdish problem, are reproducing part of Erdogan’s power. Consequently, the subsequent course of the country will to a large extent depend on the course of the economy, the situation in the Kurdish region and the medium and long-term influence that popular reactions will have on the issue of income inequality.
Despite the fact that the Turkish economy has been dealt a severe blow recently by measures that the US has taken and even though it continues to be threatened by their possible escalation, along with the imposition of sanctions by the EU, its foreign policy is becoming increasingly arrogant. This stance is not unrelated to the ripening and aims of Turkish capital itself. Its main characteristic is the expansion of neo-liberalism and the region’s integration into the global market.
Today, Turkey – apart from its internal confrontations – is seeking to have an influence beyond the country’s geographical borders, both in the economic field and in the region’s geostrategic chessboard. Turkey’s recent illegal invasion of Syria and targeting of the Kurds, is yet more tangible proof of Ankara’s assertion to play a leading role in the construction of a new regional order that will serve its own interests and goals. The violation of Syria’s territorial integrity is added to the expansionist aspirations that Turkey has been developing lately in the maritime area of the Eastern Mediterranean too. Turkey’s “Blue Homeland” vision, which is leaning towards being transformed into a dogma, defines Ankara’s illegal actions which disregard the sovereign rights of other coastal states, such as the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, Egypt and others. A more recent example is Turkey’s illegal agreement with Libya on maritime zones and Ankara’s involvement in that state.
Undoubtedly, the arrogance with which Ankara is pursuing its foreign policy is also strengthened by the important position it continues to have within the imperialist system. Turkey remains NATO’s second-largest military force, despite the recent clashes over the S-400 missiles matter and the suffocating embrace which the US unsuccessfully – for the time being – attempted to create. Furthermore, Turkey’s huge investments in the development of its own domestic military industry is part of its upgraded position in NATO’s plans to secure hegemony in the Eastern Mediterranean. At the same time, investments in military equipment and material, which is even supplied by EU member states such as Germany, has not stopped at all. The country’s position in the G20 meetings has the same content. As a member of the group of emerging economies, Turkey appears to be assuming, through the G20, the strategic role of stabilising and expanding capitalist development almost throughout the Middle East. It should be noted, however, that the attempt for Turkey’s regional autonomy is also related to the confrontations being recorded with the West. These specific confrontations are expected to continue in the coming period. For this reason, Turkey will continue to seek to expand its cooperation with other powerful powers, such as Russia.
Turkey’s position, both regionally and internationally, in turn, influences its policy in the Eastern Mediterranean with decisive impacts on the Cyprus problem as well. Whereas, since 2003 and onwards, Turkey seemed now to be compromising with the idea of a federal solution, it is now returning to the rhetoric of confederation and a two-state solution, a fact which of course is not unrelated to the erroneous handlings made by the Anastasiades government.
The strategy Turkey is pursuing in recent years with regards the management of the occupied territories has at its epicentre the implementation of policies, without necessarily seeking the consent of the Turkish Cypriot leadership. Within this framework, it is imposing the change in power structures in a way that Turkish capital will strengthen its position in the economy of the occupied territories and, as a consequence, to exert a decisive influence on the internal balance of forces of Turkish Cypriot political life with the culmination being the scheming underway for a return to power of Right and ultra-right forces, forces which are in line with Turkey’s policies and openly support a two-states solution in Cyprus.
CHAPTER D: How international and regional developments affect the Cyprus problem
The developments surrounding the Cyprus problem, as well as the prospects for its solution, cannot be assessed without taking into account the international and regional context. The sharpening of contradictions and competitions, with the powerful states of the world leading the way, inevitably affect numerous problems that need to be resolved. Given that today’s increasingly grave international environment, the geopolitical goals of the powerful states of the world do not appear to be under serious threat by the stalemate observed on the Cyprus problem. The danger of our problem being turned into a frozen conflict in the field of international relations is now discernable.
The above mentioned does not mean that the Cyprus problem has ceased to be a problem for the international community, but implies that, to solve it, a big share of responsibility for damping Turkish intransigence falls mainly on the shoulders of Cypriots themselves. The escalation of tension internationally, and in particular in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa not only can lead the Cyprus problem not only to be put on hold with other problems, but also adversely affect the prospects for its solution.
Competitions over energy in the region, as they are being initiated, primarily by the US and Israel, with the participation of Cyprus and Greece on the one hand and Turkey’s illegal reactions on the other, may further complicate the already difficult situation on the ground. The fact that the United States, as a diversion to Russia-Turkey relations, is attempting to forge an alliance between the US, Israel, Cyprus and Greece is particularly dangerous for the prospects of our political problem. Given also Israel’s position for zero relations with Turkey, this alliance complicates the prospects of normalizing the tension in the region. If the goal of any sought isolation of Turkey is for it to remain alone sticking to irrational and illegal pursuits, this is certainly legitimate. If, however, the aim is for Turkey to remain completely out of the overall equation of plans in the Eastern Mediterranean, this can only lead to further tensions, with the prospect of them developing into a crisis.
While the Anastasiades-DISY government does not contribute with its stance towards de-escalating the tension which Turkey creates, it cites it as a reason for the non-resumption of direct dialogue. These facts intensify our concerns about the position the Anastasiades government has adhered to on the Cyprus problem over the past three years, given that with its regressions and evasive actions it has not contributed towards the resumption of the negotiations, while at the same time it has dangerously revised the foreign policy of the Republic of Cyprus using energy issues as its spearhead.
The Statement of Intent signed with the US, as well as the Menendez-Rubio Act, whose essence is not the due lifting of the unjustified embargo on the sale of arms to the Republic of Cyprus, but rather the in effect cutting off of the Republic of Cyprus’ relations with the Russian Federation, increase our concerns about the government’s choices that have a negative influence on the Cyprus problem.
The efforts of powerful states on the one hand to maintain and/or create new spheres of influence that, inter alia, will secure them a role in the sharing and exploitation of natural resources and, on the other hand, the efforts by Turkey and Israel to maintain the leading position, are part of the geo-strategic competitions in the wider region. The multiple benefits to which these states have always aspired to for years, ranging from the direct or indirect control in the region, have led to numerous military interventions and attempts to overthrow regimes not under their control. One example is the case of Syria, which turned into an arena of confrontation between foreign interests and was de facto divided into spheres of influence. The situation in Libya may also develop similarly.
It has become clear that in today’s environment the need for a return to the multi-dimensional foreign policy implemented by the Christofias government is stronger, instead of the one-sided pro-West fixations of the Anastasiades-DISY government. If they continue pursuing these policies and given the growth of the already existing Russian-Turkish economic and trade relations, even in the military sector as well (e.g. S-400 missiles), we may find ourselves facing new given situations and a deterioration in the relations between the Republic of Cyprus and Russia with all that this would entail for the Cyprus problem, as well as a rupture with states in the Arab world, a particularly risky development, if one takes into account the dangerous situation in our region.
Apart from the needed shift in the government’s foreign policy, which today is undermining the prospects for a solution of the Cyprus problem, an objective assessment of other developments is also demanded. Britain’s self-absorption with BREXIT, at a time when it has clarified its position in favour of the termination of guarantees and any intervention rights, as expressed clearly at the Crans Montana conference, is again not in our interest. The UK’s exit from the EU also means its autonomy from the EU’s foreign policy, which is not necessarily a positive development. One example is the possibility Britain acquires to adopt a less clear stance on the issue of Turkey’s violations in the Cypriot EEZ. A realistic assessment of the European Union’s limited influence to exercise influence over Ankara is also necessary. This has to do with the significant economic interests that exist, coupled with the migration crisis and the role they are assigning to Turkey, in combating terrorism. Even in the case of the gross violations in the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus, the limited scope of the sanctions that have been announced (by the EU), at least so far, have not been activated.
As far as Turkey itself is concerned, it is evident that its foreign policy has not ceased revolving around its goal of playing a hegemonic role in the region. However, the way in which this is expressed and the alliances through which it believes it can secure this role has changed. Despite the fact that Turkey and Israel have been NATO’s policemen in the region for many years, and during the cold war, today, Turkey is distancing itself from its traditional allies. Without completely moving away from NATO, it does not blindly submit to the policies of the US in the region, a fact which allows it to build bridges with Islamic states and populations, while having deepened its relations with Russia it can and does intervene more flexibly in various developments. In fact, all this is happening, without Turkey simultaneously having to suffer any significant cost. This was not the case when circles of Erdogan were accused of arming the forces of the Islamic State forces, nor with the purchase of the S-400 missiles, while during the military intervention in Syria the tolerance shown by both the US and Russia was secured. Despite the fact that the US decided not to permit the purchase of F-35 fighter jets and to impose severe economic sanctions on Turkey, Ankara has not changed its stance. Furthermore, the US has demonstrated an easiness, expecting that there will be no final rupture, which would mean the US losing an ally in a region considered important to their interests.
The complex rivalries in the region, in which the powerful states of the world continue to play a leading role, as well as the tension and means by which Turkey and Israel continue to seek the role of a regional police officer, demonstrate that a state, such as the Republic of Cyprus, cannot solve its problems other than through the path of reaching an agreement. If one looks at the geographical position and the realities, it can be concluded that the theories propagated about forging ‘axes of alliances’ in the region are very unlikely to bring about any positive reversals in the foreseeable future. The only prospect, so that the Cyprus problem isn’t trapped in the throes of escalating global and regional tensions, is to abandon the one-dimensional policy orientations, as expressed through the government’s political choices, with regards alliances and energy issues and to resume the negotiations as soon as possible. If Turkey doesn’t cooperate, on its own sole responsibility now, it will remain the region’s troublemaker. The stance it adopted at Crans Montana, as well as in other cases, indicates that it wants to avoid the costs that this role entails.
CHAPTER E: The Cyprus problem
For almost half a century, since the illegal Turkish invasion and continued occupation, the Cyprus problem, the biggest problem the Cypriot people as a whole are facing, remains unresolved. The Cyprus problem is above all an international problem of invasion, occupation, illegal colonalisation, ethnic cleansing and foreign interventions. At the same time, the problem also has its internal aspect, which concerns the relations between the two communities and the sought federal state structure of the Republic of Cyprus. The occupying power Turkey continues to flagrantly violate the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus. It continues to violate fundamental principles of International Law, the Constitutional Charter of the United Nations, numerous resolutions and decisions approved by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations, the principles and values upon which the European Union is founded, the fundamental rights and basic freedoms of the Cypriot people as a whole.
The Cyprus problem must be solved within the framework of the United Nations and on the basis of the UN resolutions, the High-Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979, the unanimous decisions of the National Council, International Law, European principles and values. The strategic objective remains the transformation of the Republic of Cyprus into a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as described in the UN Security Council resolutions. Federal Cyprus will be a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus, a state with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship. At the same time, the solution must be workable and lasting. It must ensure demilitarization, the unity of the country and people, common economic progress and development, as well as the respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, including the right of the refugees to return and the termination of the ongoing colonalisation. These are the prerequisites for the waging of the common, class, political and social struggles of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working people in the future.
From the very outset of Anastasiades’ election in 2013, we had warned that his intention to negotiate from scratch posed extremely serious dangers. Regrettably, our warnings were not heeded. As a result, we were led to unacceptable positions by the Turkish Cypriot side being brought back to the table that had previously been excluded by the Christofias-Talat convergences. When Akinci assumed the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community in 2014, who decided to put an end to Eroglu’s policy and stated that he would proceed with the convergences that had been registered, Mr. Anastasiades responded. Progress in the talks was subsequently recorded, albeit through mutual regressions. All of these points were the subject of discussion during the 22nd Congress of AKEL.
In the period under review to date significant developments have taken place. Of particular importance was the abandonment by the Turkish Cypriot leader in November 2016 of the Turkish Cypriots’ longstanding position, until then, for an agreement on the four chapters of the internal aspect of the Cyprus problem, before discussing in a substantive way at a final phase the territorial issue and then a conference on security. This change in the stance led to the two meetings being held at Mont Peleran. While we got within range of a convergence being recorded with regards percentages on territory, with only a 1% deviation, the effort failed, which as a result triggered a rapid deterioration in the negotiations.
On 1st December 2016, the two leaders agreed to the convening of a Conference in the presence of the UN, the EU as an observer, the 3 guarantor powers and both communities. Very early on, as AKEL, we had informed the President of the Republic of our views on the form of the Conference, that is to say, we consider the participation of the permanent members of the UN Security Council as necessary, but our views were not heard. We therefore were led to the Conference in Geneva, where it was proved that a correct preparation had not preceded. A meeting of technocrats followed aiming at preparing the next phase of the Conference on the Cyprus problem, which finally took place a few months later at Crans Montana.
The talks at Crans Montana were conducted at two tables. On one table was the Conference, in the form it had also been agreed in Geneva, and at the second table the talks between the two communities on the remaining key internal issues took place. The common understanding that existed was that the talks at the two tables would be simultaneous, and for that reason packaged. The talks at Crans Montana, which began on 29th June, ended with an announcement signaling their termination by the UN Secretary General on 6th July after a dramatic working dinner lasting several hours.
As regards the termination of the talks, we have two diametrically opposite narratives before us. The one projected by Anastasiades, who argues that Turkey’s final position was the continuation of the Treaty of Guarantees and intervention rights. On the other hand, the Secretary General of the UN in the September 2017 Report he submitted argues that a historic opportunity was lost at Crans Montana for the sides to come to a strategic understanding and he relieves Turkey of responsibilities, noting that all the guarantor powers went to Switzerland ready to find mutually acceptable solutions with regards security and guarantee issues. The UN Secretary General apportions responsibilities on the leaders of the two communities.
In the Report itself, the UN Secretary General shows the way to achieve a resumption of the negotiations. He calls on the two leaders to decide together that they will proceed to a procedure that will be meaningful, also defining what he actually means: namely that the effort should continue from the point where it had remained at Crans Montana. At to its substantive aspect, the convergences that have been recorded over the years and the Guterres Framework should be reaffirmed. With regards the procedural aspect, the packaged negotiation of the six pending issues should continue.
In the Guterres Framework, the thing that tilts the scales is the Secretary General’s clear position for the abolition of the guarantees and intervention rights, the withdrawal of all the occupation troops within a short space of time, and with only one issue outstanding, the issues concerning ELDYK and TURDYK (Note: The 1960 Treaty of Alliance provided for the stationing on the island of the Greek Force in Cyprus (ELDYK) and a corresponding force called the Turkish Force in Cyprus (TOURDYK) composed of 950 and 650 soldiers respectively). On the issues with regards the internal aspect of the Cyprus problem, he himself concludes that we had come very close to resolving them.
In addition to the Framework of Six Points, during the working dinner at Crans Montana, the Secretary General presented an informal document on the mechanism for implementing the solution. A mechanism that entrusts the responsibility for implementation to the UN and gives only an advisory role to the guarantor powers. This also explains the positive stance of the Greek side to this document.
Following the collapse at Crans Montana, which was followed by the Turkey being relieved of responsibility, Ankara’s completely confrontational stand followed, culminating in its provocative and illegal activities in the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus and the illegal machinations in Famagusta. Unfortunately, the breakdown at Crans Montana had other ramifications too. The trust between the leaders of the two communities was completely lost, which subsequently led to negative rhetoric and an attempt to engage in a blame game. In addition, the belief of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots that a solution is possible was shaken. In both communities, this situation favours the strengthening of nationalism and the forces that are increasingly flirting with the idea of a definitive partition.
For some two years now, Anastasiades has been declaring a willingness to submit supposedly “new ideas” and, as expected, the UN Secretary General responded that if such ideas do exist, they must first be agreed upon by the two leaders, with a sense of urgency, and then they should address him about any subsequent steps. At the same time, this has permitted Turkey to demand from the Greek Cypriot side that it states its position as to whether it wants a solution of federation, confederation or a solution of two separate states. That’s how the “terms of reference” came about and the efforts undertaken by the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy Jane Holl Lutte to arrive at a conclusion on them, which have so far yielded no substantive results whatsoever. Both leaders have recently accepted verbally, as terms of reference, the 2014 Joint Declaration, the convergences recorded up to Crans Montana and the June 30th Guterres Framework. The following question arises, what is preventing an agreement on the terms of reference so far? The problem is that the verbal acceptance of the above is not accompanied by their acceptance in practice. All of Anastasiades’ “new ideas” reopen convergences already recorded and therefore are incompatible with the UN Secretary General’s Framework. Even the only Anastasiades idea, which the Turkish Cypriot side is ready to discuss, namely decentralized federation, the President still hasn’t outlined it in a concrete manner. Mr. Akinci rejects the rest of the “ideas” without discussion. In other words, the Turkish Cypriot leader rejects a single positive vote in the Ministerial Cabinet on vitally important matters and the proposal for a parliamentary system. Mr. Akinci insists on a single positive Turkish Cypriot vote in all the bodies of the federal state, even with regards secondary issues, something which also clashes with the Guterres Framework.
The discovery of natural gas reserves by the Republic of Cyprus integrates Cyprus into the countries with an energy value and at the same time places it in an arena of intense competitions and contradictions. AKEL considers that the cooperations and Cyprus’ energy alliances must be focused, not on serving any foreign interests, but rather the real interests of our people. They should contribute towards peace and the cooperation of the peoples in the region, to consolidating stability that will contribute to prosperity. In this context, the energy plans of the Republic of Cyprus must consider making use of natural gas as a catalyst for the overall solution of the Cyprus problem.
The Christofias-Talat convergences also included an agreement on the issue of maritime zones, which foresaw that they would constitute a federal competence. The same applies to the delimitation and resolution of disputes with neighbouring states. All this will be done in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which will be included in the list of international Treaties of the united Republic of Cyprus. In combination with the convergence regarding the allocation of federal revenues from natural resources, whose exploitation also falls under federal competence, it becomes very clear that with the solution of the Cyprus problem the issue of natural gas will in effect be resolved.
AKEL insists on its position that the discovery of hydrocarbons in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus, represents a new serious incentive for a solution for both communities and for Turkey itself. The Turkish Cypriots on the one hand will only be able to also enjoy the benefits through the solution of the Cyprus problem, and the Greek Cypriots on the other need a stable and secure environment that will permit the unhindered use of this precious good. Likewise Turkey can also benefit from the solution of the Cyprus problem as well. Following the solution, the Federal Republic of Cyprus can begin negotiations with Turkey for the delimitation of the EEZ and discuss the possibility of a natural gas pipeline to Turkey with criteria as to the economic viability of such a project.
AKEL was always stressing that the real dilemma in relation to the Cyprus problem is between federation and a form of partition. Today, when various ideas are being discussed beyond federation, no one makes references to a unitary state. Everyone talks about confederation or two separate states. For that reason, those forces and circles, whether well-intentionally or not, who were discussing a unitary state solution must now choose between the real dilemma. All the formations of confederation have collapsed since the 19th century and not by chance, with some failed and short-lived attempts to restore them. Confederation doesn’t differ from a two separate states ‘solution’, given that it constitutes a form of interstate cooperation on strictly defined issues and nothing more than that.
Partition, whatever form it may take, is not an option for AKEL. Partition means, at the end of the day, land borders with Turkey, the loss of 37% of the territories and 60% of the coastline (consequently also a large part of the EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus. Partition means the permanent presence of the occupying troops and settlers, without any control over their future flow. It also means the non-return of land and property. It means the complete assimilation of the Turkish Cypriots by Turkey and thus their disappearance as a distinct community. It means, in the end, the constant danger of Turkey’s complete occupation of Cyprus. The solution of bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as set out by the relevant UN resolutions, is therefore the only way for the liberation and reunification of our island and people.
All of this demonstrates the pressing need for President Anastasiades to immediately abandon the regressions and contradictions, to be consistent to the basis of the solution of the Cyprus problem, as well as the need for a willingness, in practice and not in words, to continue the negotiating procedure from where it had remained and in the way the UN Secretary General proposes. Towards this end, it is imperative to intensify contacts at the headquarters of the UN with all the permanent members of the Security Council, as well as at the EU. The assumption of initiatives to reverse the negative climate in both communities, including the abandonment of negative rhetoric and the blame game by the two leaders, is particularly important, as the UN Secretary-General points out in a series of Reports.
As far as AKEL is concerned, it will continue to take initiatives, both inside and outside Cyprus, aiming at the resumption of the talks and the opening up of the prospect for a solution on the basis of all that has been agreed.
CHAPTER F: The Turkish Cypriot Community and rapprochement
For AKEL, the struggle for peace, liberation, reunification and social progress has always been common, to be waged by the Cypriot people as a whole. In this context, close relations with the Turkish Cypriot community have been forged and maintained over time, from the period of the historic class struggles that were waged in the 1940’s right up to the difficult conditions of the enforced separation imposed by Turkey’s occupation. Today, we are called upon to strengthen the common struggle on many levels, confronting the obstacles which the divisive status quo sets.
AKEL addresses, first and foremost, that section of the Turkish Cypriot community with whom we are united by the common vision for a solution to the Cyprus problem, based on bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant UN resolutions. Our relations with the Turkish Cypriot community are being built on numerous levels, taking into account other criteria as well, ideological, social and class. Relations are also being forged with progressive Turkish Cypriot political forces, as well as with other agencies, organised groups and individuals. AKEL, respecting the diversity and autonomy of the political forces in the occupied territories, will continue to strengthen its ties with all the forces struggling for a federal solution.
The Turkish Cypriot community has played its own important role in the developments surrounding the Cyprus problem over time. However, this always came up against the suffocating limits imposed by Turkey’s policy. Today, the Turkish Cypriot community is struggling for the very existence of its community, which is being threatened by Turkey’s economic, political and cultural impositions. The survival of the community to an enormous degree goes through Ankara’s economic protocols, which are accompanied by numerous attempts aimed at imposing the demographic and cultural alteration of the Turkish Cypriot community, as well as its further dependence on Ankara (trade, natural resources), energy and other). The passage of time, without a solution of the Cyprus problem, multiplies these dangers.
Today, AKEL is highly regarded and appreciated by progressive Turkish Cypriots who are seeking a federal solution. This is by no means accidental and is primarily due to the struggle waged and consistency shown by AKEL for a bi-communal, bi-zonal solution, in combination with the historical role it has played in the relations between the two communities. Furthermore, the upgrading of the policy of rapprochement, the inclusion of a Turkish Cypriot candidate on the AKEL ballot in the last European elections, and his election, in cooperation with progressive Turkish Cypriots, have given an additional momentum to relations between us.
Rapprochement for us is first and foremost a political procedure, which cannot be limited to a cosmopolitan concept that ignores the real existing problems created by nationalism, chauvinism and the given situation of the division. The policy of rapprochement and cultivation of a culture of peaceful coexistence are indispensable prerequisites for the further deepening of the relations between the two communities and for the achievement of a lasting solution. Consequently, AKEL is working to intensify the contacts, dialogue and cooperation with agencies and organisations of the movement for rapprochement.
AKEL’s activity in recent years has expanded to various levels in the field of rapprochement. The use of the Internet and social media in particular, has enhanced the direct transmission of our messages to the Turkish Cypriot community. In addition, numerous bi-communal activities, such as cultural activities, contacts with bi-communal and Turkish Cypriot movements and organisations, excursions, bi-communal visitor groups to Brussels, the organisation of political seminars on the Cyprus problem in the occupied areas and other activities have brought AKEL closer to many Turkish Cypriots, but also Greek Cypriots. AKEL’s activity is also strengthened by the activities of the mass organisations of the Left, and in particular the front of the progressive trade union organisations, which are at the forefront of bi-communal activities.
AKEL will continue to study and propose to the state ways of broaden relations between the two communities in all areas. Our intervention in fields such as education, the bi-communal Technical Committees and state agencies is very important on matters relating to bi-communal relations.
AKEL is struggling steadfastly and uncompromisingly against nationalism-chauvinism and all the ultra-right’s ideological concepts that are cultivating hatred between the two communities at every level of Cypriot society. In these conditions it is imperative that we:
- a) Combat nationalism and chauvinism at all levels.
- b) Continue and strengthen the rapprochement initiatives and activities of bi-communal agencies and organizations.
- c) Broaden and further deepen the rapprochement activity of AKEL and the mass organisations of the Left:
- Extensive strengthening of our rapprochement action at a district and local level.
- Linking all Party District Committees with progressive Turkish Cypriot forces, corresponding to their area of responsibility.
- Emphasis on activities aimed at fostering human relations at a grassroots level, in particular among young people, women and citizens from areas far from the “green line” of division.
- d) Strong support for the cultivation of a culture of peaceful coexistence through the Education system:
- Further promote the comprehensive and objective teaching of contemporary Cypriot history, with the inclusion of the common struggles waged by the working people in the curriculum, as well by as the struggles of the progressive forces of the two communities for peace and reunification.
- Promotion of the collective memory of the two communities, with regards the shared traditions and other common characteristics, always respecting the diversity of each community.
- Highlighting and projecting the historic period of peaceful coexistence between the two communities, as well as the common negative consequences of war and conflicts for both communities.
- Combating of racism and discrimination, which are interconnected with nationalism.
- Support the cooperation and communication between teachers and students and pupils from both communities.
(e) Demand zero tolerance towards incidents of bicommunal violence.
CHAPTER G: The enclaved people (in the occupied areas)
AKEL stresses the state’s numerous responsibilities towards the hundreds of Greek Cypriot enclaved people (living in the occupied areas) who have been waging a heroic struggle against occupation for 46 years. It indeed recalls that the struggle for their ultimate vindication will be achieved through the solution of the Cyprus problem itself and the restoration of all their human rights, in conditions of freedom and real security. The condemnable attempt to impose “charges” that had been put on them by the illegal regime of the pseudo-state with regards the provision of humanitarian aid to the enclaved people, proves that the dangers stemming from the stagnation and non-solution of the Cyprus problem also affect them too.
AKEL has always supported the enclaved people in every possible way, seeking to limit the daily difficulties they face. This support was also expressed through the practical actions and measures that were taken during the Demetris Christofias government, fully recognizing the need to take initiatives, focusing on improving the quality of their lives.
As AKEL we assert:
- All necessary measures must be taken to ensure the smooth operation of the schools in the occupied territories, with the aim of safeguarding the highest level of education and upbringing for the children of the enclaved people.
- The development of further training programs for children of enclaved people and foreign language learning programs and the development of other interests.
- Continuous monitoring of the needs and difficulties they face in their daily lives, such as the provision of food and other essential items/goods through the United Nations, support for the elderly with the provision of home care, facilitating unhindered communication with their families in the free areas and other.
- Further upgrading and improvement of the enclaved people’s housing conditions.
- Improvement of the criteria in the plan for resettlement in the occupied communities where enclaved people live.
- Provision of equal economic support for enclaved farmers according to what applies in the free areas. The concessions of the various schemes affecting these people must be confirmed by objective facts.
CHAPTER H: The Missing Persons
The verification of the fate of the missing persons is one of the most important aspects of our struggle. The long list of missing persons in Cyprus – both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots – has unfortunately not yet seen all the cases verified. On the contrary, despite the efforts of the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP) and all those who are contributing towards resolving this humanitarian issue, whose work we appreciate, the difficulties remain. Regrettably, so long as Turkey continues to put obstacles, complicate the work of the CMP and misinform it, then with mathematically certainty all the efforts to determine the fate of the missing persons will fail.
The most important and urgent issue for the relatives of the missing persons is the identification of the remains and the burial of their relatives and beloved ones, while it is also important to ascertain the conditions under which these compatriots of ours lost their lives.
Towards this end, AKEL will continue to propose at every opportunity the need for all those who have information about the fate of the missing persons from both communities to cooperate with the CMP. AKEL will continue to demand the allocation of all the necessary economic resources at an EU level so that the CMP will continue its work unhindered and at the same time to be able to take initiatives so that the international community intensifies the pressure on Turkey so that it cooperates and provides the necessary information that it is needed.
 The phenomenon of taking advantage of one’s position of power for personal gain and promotion by engaging in back-stage manipulations