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Address by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL, Stefanos Stefanou, at the press conference to present AKEL’s activity in the European Parliament for the first half of the 2019-2024 term


Saturday 12 February 2021, ‘House of Cooperation’, Nicosia

Dear friends,

For AKEL, the report and accountability for our positions and work is an integral part of our culture. It is a component part of the responsibility we feel not only towards the citizens who support us, but also to society in general. We feel a responsibility and a duty to be accountable and to inform our people about what we do, promote, assert and reject. This is what we as political forces need to do and this is what AKEL is putting this into practice in a transparent and sincere manner.

When AKEL, in 1995, despite the serious disagreements it was expressing about the concepts and policies that are being implemented by the ruling right-wing forces in the EU, took a decision in favor of accession, it knew that Cyprus was entering a difficult and complex environment with problems, challenges, what was at stake, but also prospects.

AKEL’s presence in the European Parliament represents first and foremost a responsibility towards the Cypriot people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Towards the working people and young generation of our country, both at the very centre of our struggle. It is also a responsibility towards European citizens, because it is precisely AKEL that is fighting not only for Cyprus and Cypriots, but also for Europe and its peoples.

This is what AKEL is; a Party that participates and doesn’t abstain. A Party that asserts and doesn’t limit itself to issuing statements. A Party that has proposals and proposes solutions to the benefit of the many and does not just react and reject.

Since 1996 – when AKEL became an associated member of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left – and since 2004, when we have been consistently participating in the European Parliament with the election of 2 of the 6 Cypriot MEP’s, we have set ourselves the goal of participating in where policies are discussed in the European Parliament. To study in depth and formulate our own positions on the whole spectrum of the functioning of EU institutions. To forge links with progressive movements and their struggles across Europe. To put forward positions and demands on European affairs with the stamp of the Left, but of Cyprus too.

We therefore endeavor to say that we have always managed to fulfill our role and mission. This is also confirmed by the presentation of the work of our two MEP’s, Giorgos Georgiou and Niyazi Kizilyurek, to date. At the same time, I’d like to stress that alongside and together with our given MEP’s and their parliamentary assistants, there is a whole team of AKEL cadres and militants – young scientists, men and women, with expertise in specific areas and with significant experience in European policy. They are the Political Advisors working in the Left Group and, of course, the European Affairs Bureau of the Central Committee of AKEL. I take this opportunity to express the Party’s appreciation to all of them for the work they are doing, and first and foremost to Niyazi and Giorgos.

Dear friends,

For AKEL, the platform of the European Parliament was and is first and foremost an arena of struggle for the cause of the reunification of our country. We want to be the voice of all Cypriots and of the whole of Cyprus. The voice of the solution to the Cyprus problem that will bring about the reunification of our country. The voice of peace and coexistence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in their common state.

The inclusion of a Turkish Cypriot on AKEL’s ballot for the 2019 European elections was a historic decision for Cyprus. Its importance was clearly demonstrated when, after the election of Niyazi, the whole of Europe dealt with the news, underlining its huge political significance for the prospect of Cyprus’ reunification. AKEL is proud to have opened this historic page.

I’ll grasp this opportunity to stress that the Left Group in the European Parliament is a reliable steadfast supporter – not only of AKEL, but of Cyprus as a whole – in the struggle we are waging for a solution and reunification. Our friends in Europe have proven to be the most consistent friends of Cyprus and its people inside the European Parliament.

Dear friends,

AKEL’s criticism of the prevailing policies in the European Union is frequently misrepresented as ‘Eurosceptic’. Of course, it doesn’t take much effort to convince anyone that the Left’s warnings about the character and policies of the current EU have been vindicated, as reflected in all the dramatic statistics on unemployment, poverty and inequalities.

However, what we want to make clear again in every direction is that the Left has never rejected the idea and vision of the unification of our continent. On the contrary, for the Left, the unification of Europe into a unity where peoples, nations, languages, religions and cultures coexist and prosper would represent a step forward in historical evolution. And that is precisely why, in the face of the deadlocks and contradictions of the current European Union, we do not subscribe to ‘Euroscepticism’, which is a conservative and ideological conception.

In the face of the economic structure and the anti-worker policies that are dominant in the EU today, the EU’s coupling with NATO and militarisation, the democratic deficit and the rise of the far-right, AKEL – together with the Group of the Left of Europe – respond by fighting for a Europe of peace, social equality, democracy, cooperation and multicultural societies. This is the content we attach to our own European vision, that is to say the Europe of the peoples. That is precisely why we had much more and different expectations from the Conference on the Future of Europe, so that it could respond to the needs of the peoples and workers of the continent.

At the same time, AKEL’s presence in the European Parliament has been, is and will continue to be assertive and creative. We make use of the European Parliament as an arena of struggle and this is evident in the manifold activity our two MEP’s develop in the Committees and Delegations they participate in, through their interventions in the Plenary and in the questions they put before the European Commission.

We acknowledge the positive elements that exist in the European framework and we build on them, such as for example the important elements concerning environmental policy, transparency and the fight against corruption. We draw knowledge from the whole web of EU legislation, directives and regulations and convey it in an interactive way with our contacts with organisations, movements and bodies in Cyprus and to citizens themselves.  Indicative of this approach is the example from the 1990’s, when as Cyprus’ accession process was beginning, AKEL was the one that revealed to the Cypriot people that there was no requirement on the part of the EU for the privatisation of semi-governmental organisations, as the DISY Democratic Rally party was claiming and demanding at the time.

We did the same recently too through the actions of our MEP’s who highlighted the arbitrary actions of Cypriot banks with regard to unfair clauses and the unwillingness of the Cyprus Government to implement the relevant European Directive, which it had hidden in its draws. We also raised critical issues affecting the working people of Cyprus, such as the Cypriot government’s imposition of the purchase of services system in education and the discriminations that have been applied against contract workers in Cyprus. These are just a small part of our actions we are presenting today.

With these thoughts in mind, I congratulate once again our MEP’s, Giorgos Georgiou and Niyazi Kizilyurek and the whole collective of the AKEL Delegation in Brussels for their overall activity, initiatives, proposals and assertions. On behalf of AKEL, I convey our readiness to support your work even more, to make it even more accessible to Cypriot society, to put European issues on the priorities of day-to-day political life and struggle in Cyprus too.

Once again, congratulations and all the very best in your activity.


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Statement by AKEL MEP Giorgos Georgiou at the press conference to present and assess the work of the AKEL Delegation to the European Parliament for the first half of the 2019-2024 term of office