Interview with AKEL MEP Giorgos Georgiou: Proposals for ending policies that dismantle the welfare state
Sunday 27th June 2021, ‘Haravgi’ newspaper
Q: What has been your activity in the European Parliament in these two years?
GG: Our activity developed seeking to serve the needs and with the well-intentioned interests of the peoples of Europe at heart. Through the Parliamentary Committees I participate in, together with the Group of GUE/NGL, we have been submitting concrete proposals for the termination of the policies that have been dismantling the welfare state, creating armies of unemployed and poor people.
As the AKEL delegation, we have fought to strengthen labour rights, also including the field of teleworking, to protect collective agreements, ensure a dignified minimum wage and provide support towards small and medium size businesses. We highlighted the need to bring Cyprus in line with the Directive on the protection of the right to housing. We contributed to increasing the budget for the health sector in order to strengthen public hospitals and promote a coordinated all-Europe struggle to ensure equal access to vaccines and medicines in order to safeguard health as a public good.
We succeeded in getting a proposal adopted that we tabled for the allocation of €1.5 million from the 2021 Community budget to harness digitalisation in the fight against paediatric cancer. We fought to promote and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We demanded practical support for people of the arts and culture, honoring them in the person of Costas Vichas.
Q: Can we make a reference to the 2019-20 Foreign Affairs Committee Progress Report on Turkey, which you participated in as the shadow Rapporteur?
GG: The climate for Turkey in the European Parliament is at an all-time low, which is reflected fully in the respective Progress Report, which documents Turkey’s regressions in a glaring way. Of course, what happens at the European Council and Commission level is another tragic story…In essence, in the negotiations on the Report, in which I participated as a shadow Rapporteur representing the Political Group of the GUE/NGL, our main aim was to demonstrate that EU-Turkey relations must be based on Turkey’s respect for fundamental rights and its compliance with the Copenhagen criteria.
This issue is also directly linked to the Cyprus problem. We asked for and succeeded in including in the text approved the demand that Turkey must demonstrate its objectives vis-à-vis the EU through tangible and consistent actions. In other words, Turkey should refrain from taking any provocative actions that violate the sovereign rights of other EU member states. At the same time, we have included in the Report positive references to the framework for the solution to the Cyprus problem (Note: bizonal, bicommunal federation) and how meaningful negotiations can be resumed.
Q: Do you think that Euro-Turkish relations can help towards the resumption of the dialogue on the Cyprus problem?
GG: Erdogan’s subtle behaviour to create a positive atmosphere, aspiring to the positive agenda, raises legitimate concerns. In none of his meetings with the US and the EU was the need for a just solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of bizonal, bicommunal federation mentioned, nor were Turkey’s Cyprus-related obligations underlined.
Undoubtedly, Euro-Turkish relations could make a decisive contribution to the solution of the Cyprus problem, provided that they are built on the basis of a behaviour by Turkey that is in line with international law, the respect for European principles and values, European Council Conclusions and the Resolutions of the United Nations.
Turkey, as a candidate country for EU membership, must recognise and respect the sovereignty of all member states and fulfil the obligations stemming from the framework of the negotiations, including the full implementation of the Additional Protocol. Otherwise, Turkey will remain a festering wound for the region, but for Europe too.