Address by the General Secretary of the Central Committee of AKEL, Stefanos Stefanou, on the renaming of Geri Avenue to Demetris Christofias Avenue
28 December 2022, Municipality of Geri, Nicosia
We express our gratitude to the Mayor of the Municipality of Geri and the members of the Municipal Council who took the decision to rename Geri Avenue to Demetris Christofias Avenue.
We also express our gratitude to the social democratic EDEK party for taking this important decision together with AKEL.
Demetris Christofias offered a lot to Cyprus, society and ordinary people. The Municipality of Geri rightly pays him the due honor he deserves.
The act of renaming constitutes a recognition and an act of appreciation for the overall rich and multifaceted service Demetris Christofias made.
This ceremony does not lend itself to any long speeches and many words. After all, Christofias himself avoided that, even though he had an excellent command and was a skilled communicator of the Greek language. He preferred to speak through his actions and was demanding about everything that had to be done. He was first and foremost demanding with himself and then with his colleagues. He was a workaholic and a perfectionist.
Foer that reason, I will say just a few words trying to condense the rich life and activity of D. Christofias into just a few lines. It is indeed a difficult task, I hope to succeed in doing so to the best of my ability.
- Christofias had his origins in the common people and all through his life he fought for the common people, the ordinary people, and the working people.
He made his life goal and the fundamental content of his rich political activity what the phrase “from the people, for the people” means.
And he did this by being guided by the vision, values and ideals of the Left, the People’s Movement, in which Demetris Christofias steadfastly and unswervingly believed in. In the asset of values of the Left, democracy, freedom, equality, solidarity, justice and the dignity of people have a prominent place.
“From the people, for the people”…Demetris Christofias fought for the solution of the Cyprus problem. A solution that will liberate and reunite our homeland and people. A solution that will make Cypriots the true masters in their own homeland, with the rights and basic freedoms of the people fully safeguarded. A solution that will enable us Cypriots to decide on our present and future.
An extension and part of his struggle for a solution to the Cyprus problem was his precious contribution to rebuilding the trust between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots; relations which were affected by the poison of nationalism and which in effect were cut off by the Turkish invasion and de facto separation.
“From the people, for the people”…He fought for a social and just state that would support its citizens, especially those belonging to the categories of the vulnerable groups of the population, in a full and comprehensive manner.
A state that creates prospects for our young people, to whom he has always attached particular importance. A consequence and proof of this was the fact that even when he was elected to the highest office of the Republic of Cyprus, he always looked back with nostalgia and pride to the years when he was the General Secretary of the EDON (Note: the Youth organisation of AKEL).
“From the people, for the people”…He worked for progress and development in the country that would provide prosperity and ensure the well-being of the people because, for Demetris Christofias, and for our Party, it is not enough for statistical numbers to prosper – people must also prosper. How the wealth being produced is distributed for us is of huge importance.
“From the people, for the people”…Demetris Christofias fought for a country that has international prestige and is credible so that its voice can be heard and so that it can effectively assert its rights. Despite the fact Demetris Christofias belonged to the small, by European standards, Political Group of the Left in the European Parliament, nevertheless he was respected in the decision-making centres of the EU, both as President of the House of Representatives and as President of the Republic of Cyprus.
Coming from the common people and working for the common people, Demetris Christofias made sure that he remained throughout his political career down to earth, genuine, approachable, sensitive, honest and sincere but also decisive, dialectical, consistent, persistent in the implementation of the goals he set.
Far from any entanglement/interwoven and vested interests. Above all, he always put the interests of the country and the people first.
This was the life passport of Demetris Christofias that is invaluable – far more valuable than any ‘golden’ passport.
This was the code of ethics and conduct that Demetris Christofias possessed. A code that he signed early on with his conscience, far from any pompous and communication fiestas, and which he honored without any compromise or backtrackings.
We all know that Demetris Christofias was fiercely attacked, smeared and accused more than anyone else. He was maligned and vilified like few others.
Various people have tried to blame him for all the pathologies and deadlocks of the system – let us not forget that Demetris Christofias was elected to the presidency of the state at the dawn of the biggest crisis ever experienced by global capitalism, especially in Europe.
They tried to blame him for all the country’s chronic and longstanding problems, for all the weaknesses, failures and mistakes of Cyprus’ public administration.
They have tried to cannibalise and destroy him by instrumentalising a sad accident, something which has never happened anywhere in any state governed by the rule of law.
Despite the fact that all of this traumatized him deeply both mentally and emotionally, Christofias remained big-hearted and magnanimous, as he learned to be from a young age and taught others to be in their own lives.
Sadly, even after his passing away, numerous people continue to be mean and cowardly towards him, continuing to denigrate his memory!
Yes, they are cowards! Because it is political cowardice and pettiness to be governing for ten years the country and instead of taking on your responsibilities, you seek to blame those who came before you, especially Christofias.
Meanness and pettiness is not wanting to give D. Christofias’ name to an Avenue, as was done with other public figures to public buildings, in other municipalities and communities and in Geri too, and to claim numerous things.
Regardless of this, however, we of the Left – we the Left – will continue to be magnanimous and generous regarding all those who have contributed to this country, even if we politically disagree with them on many things and belong to different party and ideological spectrum. That’s what we have and will continue to do everywhere when the issue of honoring public figures who have contributed to the country is discussed.
We did so in Geri for example, when we unanimously – with the Municipal Councilors of AKEL voting in favour – of the proposal to give the name of Glafkos Clerides (Note: founder/leader of DISY and former President of the Republic) to part of Kalamon Avenue.
We feel proud because we think, act and behave in this way. That is how Demetris Christofias taught us. This is how the history of our movement teaches us. This is what our ideology teaches us.
Since we are talking about magnanimity and, I would add, political courage, permit me to close with a reference to the late Alekos Markides (Note: prominent DISY leader and MP, former Attorney General and close associate of Clerides). A man who found himself ideologically and politically on opposing sides to us, but who had the courage to speak honestly about Demetris.
Markides, in bidding farewell to Demetris Christofias and referring to his role on the Cyprus problem, said the following: “He left behind great, beneficial and valuable convergences [that had been recorded in the negotiations] for all of Cyprus. I hope these will not be lost. History will restore much of what was unjustly attributed to him.”
I agree and let me add the following: we will continue to ensure that the truth is restored and that Demetris Christofias receives the due recognition of his work and contribution.
May his memory live on!