AKEL is the force with a vision and a proposal for the solution of the Cyprus problem
Press Conference by the General Secretary of AKEL A.Kyprianou at the Famagusta Municipality Cultural Centre held in Deryneia facing the buffer zone and the fenced off city of Varosha
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 5th April 2021, Nicosia
Every time I stand here, I remember the story of the old handicraftsman refugee Christos.
Shortly before he passed away, lost in his dementia, he watched the episodes of his life again go by from the beginning. One morning, he got up, washed, put on his best clothes and put his suitcases with his belongings into the car. When his children saw him, they panicked and asked him where he was going. “I’m going back to my village, they told us we are going home, to pick the oranges and olives in our orchards.” His children tried to explain to him. To tell him he can’t go home. That the time still hasn’t come for him to go back to his home. For days, Christos the handicraftsman did the same thing, insisting that the time had come for him to go home, to his village in the occupied areas.
Almost fifty years have gone by. Back then they were young lads in their prime. Today, those who are still alive, sit crouched in the refugee settlements waiting… They are waiting to be told that the time has come for them to finally go home to their villages.
We owe it to these people to deliver the Cyprus they loved.
We owe the future generations the Cyprus they dream of.
We will vindicate them only if Cyprus is liberated; only if it is reunited.
A few days before the convening of the five-day conference on the Cyprus problem in Geneva, the omens are pessimistic. The agreed basis of the solution of the Cyprus problem is being questioned as never before.
Turkey’s and the new Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Tatar insistence on a two-state solution raises serious obstacles to the efforts for liberation and reunification. The occupying power is becoming more and more provocative. It claims that there is no will on the part of the Greek Cypriot side to return to the negotiating table after the collapse of the Crans Montana conference. It claims that Mr. Anastasiades does not accept political equality and that the Greek Cypriot side, based on numerous statements issued by Mr. Anastasiades, does not want to share Cyprus’ natural wealth with the Turkish Cypriots. The Turkish side is using all this as a pretext to become more and more aggressive, provoking serious problems in our Exclusive Economic Zone and is also attempting to impose new fait accompli in Varosha.
In these extremely adverse conditions, AKEL remains unwavering and steadfast in its long-standing positions for a solution of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as defined in the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. It will never agree to change this basis based on the High-Level Agreements, international law and the principles and values of the European Union. A basis that ensures one State, a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus, with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship, as well as safeguarding the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots. We are working for a solution that will free us from the occupation and guarantees.
From the day after the collapse of the Crans Montana conference, AKEL had warned of the dangers arising from a prolonged stalemate, indeed accompanied by Turkey’s exoneration and with responsibilities being apportioned on the two leaders here in Cyprus. A result that was unfortunately facilitated by the regressions and erroneous handling of the Cyprus problem by Mr. Anastasiades that started from Mont Peléran and reached a peak during the Crans Montana Conference. Unfortunately, there has been no substantial response to the UN Secretary General’s repeated calls for a resumption of the talks from the point where they had remained in the summer of 2017 with the aim of turning the Guterres Framework into a strategic understanding, something that would at long last put the negotiations on the path of the solution.
Mr. Anastasiades must realize that it is no longer enough to be verbally claiming that he wants to continue the talks from where they had left off at Crans Montana. Unfortunately the situation has become much worse for the Greek Cypriot side. Almost four years have passed since then, with the situation constantly deteriorating. We are not saying this so as to proceed to further concessions, as certain forces and circles have suggested. On the contrary, we insist on the fundamental principles of a solution. To achieve them we need to be flexible in tactics, forcing Turkey to return to the agreed basis of the solution.
Already since last December, as AKEL, we took the initiative and elaborated a specific framework of proposals which we subsequently submitted to President Anastasiades, which, if it was taken into account, could have facilitated the resumption of the negotiations and offered a prospect for a solution on the correct basis.
We stressed to the President that in order to convince of our intentions, the verbal declarations being made should have been accompanied by practical steps, primarily with regards political equality, which we had pointed out. At the same time, AKEL’s proposal provided incentives to both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community, without ever crossing our “red lines”, so that they could cooperate and return to the point where we had remained at Crans Montana.
We are not in a position to know whether Turkey would accept these proposals, but if it did not do so, it for sure would not have remained unscathed/unharmed as is the case right now.
The fact that to date there hasn’t been any response whatsoever on the part of the President of the Republic to our proposal and the fact that he proceeded with proposals for grandiose Confidence Building Measures that have been tried in the past and have failed miserably, adds to our concerns about the handlings that are being made.
It has been proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that with the reopening convergences by the President, we are in fact opening the Pandora’s Box.
Contrary to the experimentations which he continues to engage in, Mr. Anastasiades should have made use of the convergences that have been recorded as our shield and thus by doing so force Turkey, Mr. Tatar and any well-wishers to face up to their responsibilities.
If the President of the Republic goes to the informal five-party meeting, insisting on his current positions that create the strong impression that these positions reject political equality, then we will be led to a new collapse with the President himself held co-responsible.
What we hope and urge him to do is to take seriously into account AKEL’s proposal, to accept in practice the acquis of the talks and to demonstrate readiness to submit bridging proposals only on the pending issues of the Guterres Framework. The President should submit proposals on the issue of Hydrocarbons that on the one hand will safeguard the Greek Cypriot side and on the other hand reassure the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey. If that’s what the President will do, then either the way will be paved for the prospect of the solution or the Turkish side will be held solely responsible for a new collapse.
So far, Mr. Anastasiades has not clarified what he actually wants, nor what he is actually going to do in Geneva. This worries us, because he has in effect called on the political parties to accompany him without briefing them of the handlings he intends to make. This in itself is a serious problem. He is asking us to accompany him to support the effort underway, without knowing where this effort is heading towards.
Various forces and circles have discussed and written, some in good faith, others in bad faith, about what AKEL is going to do in Geneva. Some are even claiming that AKEL will be deceived and give an alibi to Mr. Anastasiades’ erroneous handlings.
AKEL’s decision to accompany the President of the Republic to Geneva is conscious decision. We know very well, we remember very well, we were the first to reveal the contradictions and regressions of Mr. Anastasiades and DISY from time to time.
How effortlessly Mr. Anastasiades and DISY transform themselves in the run-up to the elections.
How cheaply they talk vaguely, make promises and engage in sloganeering when elections are approaching.
How easily they forget promises and pledges the day after the elections.
How harmful their stand is for the Cyprus problem.
We have experienced this at every critical turning point in the history of the Cyprus problem. In every one of these turning points, AKEL consciously chose to tell the truth to the Cypriot people, sometimes paying a political cost. This concerns what it said about the “burial” of Ghali Set of ideas, the S300 missiles fiasco, the ‘active volcano’ narrative, fake patriotism, the Anastasiades-DISY government’s narrative of what really happened in Crans Montana and the discussions that Mr. Anastasiades himself opened for a two state solution.
Everyone, both inside and outside Cyprus, knows and acknowledges that AKEL is the force and the catalyst for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
If AKEL were now to give in and surrender in the face of Mr. Anastasiades’ contradictions and regressions, then it’s all over and finished.
If AKEL behaves shortsightedly, looking only at the ballot box of the parliamentary elections and had said that it won’t be going to Geneva, that it won’t support any attempt to resolve the Cyprus problem and that it will wait for a President who it trusts to win the Presidential Elections and then we’ll see, the game will be lost. We will let another two years pass by with Turkey creating fait accompli that will consolidate the partition.
If the five-party meeting does not leave the window open for the resumption of talks, there should be no doubt whatsoever that in the period that will subsequently follow, perhaps the fait accompli will also seize Morphou and steal Famagusta. Then everyone can understand that without the return of Famagusta, without the return of Morphou under Greek Cypriot administration, no agreement can be accepted.
After everything that has happened in recent years, one can say that the Cyprus problem is still open to a solution because of AKEL, because everyone, both inside and outside Cyprus, knows that aside from the contradictions and regressions, there is a force that has a vision and a proposal for the solution of the Cyprus problem, for the reunification of the country.
We therefore must be the ones that will have the final say.
We, all of us, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who are struggling for peace, who built our lives on the ruins of 1974, we who insist on joining hands over the barbed wires of division.
We, at the time when the waves of history will recede one by one, waves coming and going, but we shall stand firm here as the Poet wrote, we must and will write history from the beginning in big letters:
Cyprus, one homeland, one people!