Review of AKEL’s work in the European Parliament during the first half of the parliamentary term
Statement by AKEL – Left – New Forces MEP Niyazi Kızılyürek
12 February 2022
Permit me first to underline the historic importance of the 2019 European elections. In a momentous decision taken by AKEL, it invited the Turkish Cypriot forces to join it in these elections.
I have always supported such a cooperation in the European elections. In fact, in an interview with the newspaper “Phileleftheros” on 1 September 2003, I stated: “Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have never voted together. The political life of the country, both after independence and earlier, under British rule, was on a communal basis. At this moment, the European elections give us the opportunity to overcome the communal division and participate together in a political process. I think the significance of such a move will be enormous.”
Bearing this in mind, I responded to AKEL’s call and I believe that Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political forces – especially the forces in favor of the solution of the Cyprus problem – should continue such cooperation in the future. The formation of political-ideological cooperation beyond any ethnic basis is the best answer to nationalism, as well as a substantial development that will take the country out of the vicious circle of nationalism and chauvinism.
The decision to join forces was not only honored by the vote of thousands of citizens, but also provoked strong reactions from nationalists on both sides of the barbed wire of division.
Our cooperation has refuted all the well-wishers who were claiming that it would fall apart in six months. On the contrary, we cooperate perfectly on a daily basis with Giorgos and AKEL. At the same time, however, together with the other Cypriot MEP’s, we developed joint action on important issues concerning Cyprus, such as the issue of Varosha.
I must stress that the European Parliament is the only EU institution which is directly elected by citizens. We are under no illusions and we are fully aware that Parliament’s role is limited. Nevertheless, together with AKEL and the Left Group, we have sought over these two and a half years to put the interests of the underprivileged at the centre of our political priorities. For example, we took the lead in tackling the health crisis brought about by the pandemic, but also the social consequences it caused. We contributed to the provision of practical support for the member states through the creation of the European Recovery Fund. We put human rights and the rights of migrants and refugees high on our agenda of priorities.
Personally, as coordinator of the Left Group in the Committee on Education and Culture, I have been closely involved in the issues concerning education and culture across the EU, especially the support of artists during the pandemic. I was involved in education both in Cyprus and in the other member states. In fact, with a study carried out on the teaching of history in Cypriot schools, we highlighted the ethnocentrism prevalent in both communities.
With another study I was involved in as a member of the Committee on Regional Development on renewable resources in EU islands, a subject that is particularly relevant to Cyprus.
Human rights have been a key pillar of my parliamentary work from the very beginning. Through a number of interventions I drew attention to the repression of human rights in Turkey, with particular reference to the Kavala and Demirtas cases.
During the first half of my term of office, I was very much involved on issues of concern to the Turkish Cypriot community. Starting with the promotion of the Turkish language, moving on to the registration of hallumi and supporting the community during the pandemic, I paid great attention to the interests of the Turkish Cypriot community. I did not hesitate to denounce Turkey for interfering in the internal affairs of the community and for promoting demographic alteration. At the same time, I called for better implementation of the ‘Green Line’ Regulation.
In conclusion, all I want to say is that I will continue to work intensively over the next two and a half years.