Party of the People
AKEL is the Party of the Cypriot working people. All through it 80 -years-long existence and activity it has consistently expressed their desires and visions, stood up in defence of their just demands and rights. It played a leading role in the struggles of the working people and of the broad popular strata for a better and dignified life. The social and economic achievements that the Cypriot working people are enjoying today constitute a result of their own struggles in which AKEL and the broader popular movement had also a defining contribution. In the years that have elapsed, unbroken bonds have been fostered between the working people, the broad popular strata and AKEL. We have the obligation to constantly enrich, consolidate and strengthen these bonds. From these very bonds the Party of the working people is getting strength.
On AKEL’s initiative and leadership a strong and broad Popular Movement was created and developed, that has played a is playing a significant role in the social economic and cultural development of Cyprus and the political struggles of our people. The Popular Movement is by itself a great achievement of the Cypriot people as a whole. The Popular Movement was expressed through the existence, functioning and struggles of the Pancyprian Trade union Committees (PSE) and later of PEO, of the Progressive Youth Organization (AON) and later of EDON, the Union of Cypriot Farmers (EAK) and later EKA, the Pancyprian Federation of Democratic Women (PODG) and later POGO, and the Pancyprian United Pupils Organization (PEOM). The Popular Movement was also expressed through the founding and functioning of hundreds of educational, cultural and sports clubs in rural communities and town neighbourhoods. The Left clubs became centres of cultural contribution and from them emerged hundreds of people of the letters and arts. Cadres of the Left worked with dedication for the creation of organizations of the small and middle businesses and other professionals and struggled in these organizations for the rights of the specific strata of the population. AKEL and the organizations of the Popular Movement played a leading role in the creation, support and broadening of the cooperative movement, that is one more precious achievement of our people. Groups of the Left that work in student, professional and scientific organizations contribute in the best way in the defence and struggle of their members’ rights, as well as more broadly in the promotion of progressive concepts and policies.
In its 80-yeras-long life and activity our Party has struggled and offered a lot:
- In the political struggles to rid the country from colonial regime, to defend the independence of the country against foreign interventions and conspiracies, against fascism chauvinism, for common struggle of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot and a peaceful living together of all communities on the island;
- In the achievement, broadening and consolidation of democratic freedoms and rights of our people;
- In the organizing and demanding the rights of the working people, employees, farmers, middle strata, women, youth, pensioners;
- In culture, education, sports and environment;
- In the Cooperative sector;
- In the local authorities sector and in many other sectors of our life;
- In the facing of the immense consequences of the coup d’etat and the Turkish invasion. AKEL struggled and continues to struggle of the verification of the fate of the missing persons, the safeguarding of the rights of the enclaved, for the organizing of the refugees and the solution of their problems, for the solution of the problems of that part of the population affected by the 1974 events.
Through its many-sided activity AKEL and the Left Movement have contributed to a large extent to the spectacular change of the Cypriot society for the better.
In its 80-yeras long course CPC-AKEL has naturally committed mistakes. It is, however, the sole political force in Cyprus that had the courage to recognize its mistakes and to go through self-criticism in an effort to correct its policy. An example of such self-criticism is that of 1957 in connection to characterizations used for EOKA and its cadres. While reaffirming the correct nature of its position for a mass political struggle and its objection to the armed form of struggle, the Party at the same time judged that the characterizations used were not correct, did not help the building of climate of unity and gave pretexts for attacks against the Party. Doing this self-criticism the Party expressed also its respect ad honour for the sacrifice of EOKA cadres. AKEL also went through self-criticism over the turn to self-determination-enosis in the Party policy in the period 1964-1967. This turn was judged to have been a mistake and a violation of the Party Programme and of the 10th Congress resolution that spoke of the completion of independence.
In its long life and activity our Party was tested by certain internal crisis that tortured the Party and inflicted a blow on its unity and effectiveness. The internal crises as the one in the second half of the 1940s or that of the years 1988-1990, each had its peculiarities and its own ideological and political parameters. They had, however, also some common points as was the refusal of cadres to accept the decisions of collective bodies and the faction activity they had proceeded to. Remaining devoted to its ideological and organizational principles and getting strength from the support of the broader layers of the working people of the country, the Party always found the strength to overcome the crises and then be strengthened even more.
The CPC- AKEL was founded from its very first steps on the Marxist-Leninist ideology, which it approaches not as a dogma but as guidance for action. AKEL is creatively implementing this ideology in the conditions of Cyprus in a way that strengthens the bonds of the Party with the people, that makes it play a leading role in the struggles of the Cypriot people for freedom and progress and that makes AKEL a decisive power in the political and social process of our country. AKEL is strongly convinced that despite the blow inflicted on the labour and communist movement internationally, the Marxist-Leninist theory, the way it should be developed and renewed with the continual progress of knowledge and economic, social and political development, remains a firm ideological base of the struggle for a better world, a world of peace, democracy, social justice and socialism.
Since the time the Communist Party of Cyprus (CPC) declared that “the people in Cyprus should not be differentiated into Greeks and Turks in order to fight each other”, the CPC-AKEL remains a firm, continuous and consistent fighter against nationalism-chauvinism. Our Party fought for friendship, cooperation, mutual understanding and mutual respect between all Cypriots, irrespective of national origin. Fighters for the rights of the people, not just Greek Cypriots but also Turkish Cypriots emerged from the Party ranks and the Organizations of the Popular Movement. The Turkish Cypriot cadres of the Left were repeatedly at the target of the fascist chauvinist forces and a lot of them like Fazil Ontur (Sellas), Ahmet Yahya and Dervis Ali Kavazoglu were assassinated cowardlinessly or were victims of assassination attacks and were forced to emigrate, as in the case of Ahmet Sati. Common struggles and common sacrifice forged the brotherhood of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in the framework of the Left Movement. Since 1974 AKEL has been struggling with consistency and persistence for rapprochement of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Our Party has in deed exhibited ability to renew and modernize itself responding to the demands of specific times. This for example happened with the foundation of AKEL in 1941, when the new situation created due to the Second World War were used. The same happened at the end of the 1980s beginning of the 1990s, when AKEL moved boldly to its renewal and modernization; broadened the horizons of democracy in the party; modernized its concept of Socialism and more broadly its ideological approaches; made an opening to the broader democratic (political) spectrum. At the same time, the party remained attached to its fundamental ideological and organizations principles that define its character as a contemporary Marxist-Leninist party of the working people. Renewal and modernization are for AKEL a continuous duty that should always engage the Party particularly in the contemporary time of rapid changes and reclassifications. We stand before our history with respect, which we always approach under a critical prism, but we in no case nullify this history. It is an honoured and glorious history, full of contribution to the country and the simple man of manual and spiritual labour; a history which we rightly feel proud of. We honour those that made it with their struggles and sacrifice, whether they were leading cadres, or simple cadres and members of the Party and the Popular Movement. Their struggles and example constitute a strong motive for the new generations of AKEL members to work in a similar or even better way. Our veterans are the most respected and honoured part of us members of AKEL.
AKEL does not only have political positions, ideological and organizational principles. AKEL at the same time upholds a set of moral values that make its members stand out for their behaviour and that strengthen the party. AKEL believes in comradeship, human approach and solidarity; in the respect of every person, in honesty and straightforwardness. It places the well being of the whole above any personal aims and well intended ambitions. It functions with criticism and self-criticism, respects the serves the people and the working people from where it originates and for whom it exists and struggles. It maintains and strengthens the bonds with the people and the simple men and women. It wins the respect of the society by its positions, struggles and example.
We live in a society and era that create individualism, foster vanity and unrestricted ambitions, glorifies profit, legitimizes self-promotion on every cost and damages values and ideals. This environment influences also the people of the Left. AKEL has the strength, the resistance reserves and ideological arms to fight against these negative phenomena and to project a different life stand which every honest person respects and appreciates.
True to the principles of internationalism and international solidarity, over the 80-years of its activity the Parry of the Cypriot working people has been in solidarity with all the peoples that have been struggling for independence, democracy, social progress and socialism. It mobilized the Cypriot people and sensitized them in favour of the struggles of other peoples struggling against colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism, fascism, reaction, racism, Zionism, oppression and exploitation. AKEL’s internationalist activity contributed to the broadening of international solidarity with Cyprus and its struggle, and this constitutes an addition contribution of AKEL to our people’s cause.
Our Party struggled and continues to struggle consistently for the abolition of the foreign basis in Cyprus and the demilitarization of the island. The bases have no place in Cyprus. They have been and they continue to be a source of trouble for our people. The Turkish occupation obliges us to turn our attention to the struggle for the reunification of Cyprus. This does not mean that we compromise with the presence of bases on the island. We hope for the day when Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will be struggling together in a reunified common country for the dismantling of the bases.
AKEL fought for peace and against the threat of a thermonuclear war. It fought against the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, for peaceful coexistence and for the right of every people to pursue the path they have chosen. In that sense, the activity of the Cyprus Peace Council -for the creation and functioning of which AKEL worked consistently- is particularly important. Today AKEL is struggling against the so-called new order, the offensive wars and the catastrophes it causes.
In the struggle for liberation, reunification and justice for Cyprus, AKEL pursues a patriotic policy that defends the interests of the whole of the people. From that respect, our Party has become a national political force that plays a leading role in the struggle of the Cypriot people and enjoys overall prestige and esteem. Layers of the people that do not ideologically and politically belong to the traditional area of the left, feel today that AKEL expresses them. AKEL is a party of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latines.
Since the time that the CPC declared the policy of a unitary anti-colonial front, our Party remains devoted to the cause of unity of the forces of our people as an indispensable precondition for the success of the struggles to achieve and defend the freedom of Cyprus. AKEL, for the sake of unity, has in its long history made a lot of sacrifice and overstepping, putting above all the interest of the country. AKEL has had the conviction that unity should be based on several principles, the basic of which is the respect of democracy, of democratic institutions and the will of the people.
At the present liberation stage of the struggle, when the priority is salvation of Cyprus, AKEL does not seek to implement its long-term programme for a radical transformation of society. This of course does not mean that we desert our socialist vision and orientation. Our final aim remains the building of a democratic socialist society as this is outlined in general lines in the programmatic document of our 17th Congress “Our Concept of Socialism”.