Speech by the General Secretary of AKEL Stefanos Stefanou at the event condemning the black anniversaries
15th July 2021, Lakatamia Municipality Amphitheatre, Nicosia
Forty-seven years onwards, no one forgets!
Nothing is forgotten!
This is what we are shouting out loud with our meeting this evening, but also with the other events that AKEL and the People’s Movement of the Left are organising during this period.
We do not forget the NATO conspiracy!
We do not forget those who brought the tragedy: the Greek Junta, Grivas, EOKA B.
We do not forget the dead of the democratic resistance and the struggle to defend our country’s freedom.
We do not forget the missing persons, the enclaved people in the occupied territories, the thousands of wounded and prisoners, the war-stricken people, the blood that was shed, the uprooting of our people as refugees in their own country.
No matter how many years pass, we will not stop speaking frankly. We will not stop recalling the traumatic past and who played a leading role in the tragedy that our people suffered in 1974.
Every year we organise events to denounce the twin crimes committed to assert that “Cyprus belongs to its people”.
Every year with our events we remind the people of the historical truth and at the same time we pay tribute and honor our heroes.
Every year we remember! As long as Cyprus bleeds from the occupation barbed wires of division we will be at the forefront of the struggle until the day Cyprus will be vindicated and our people will be redeemed.
Our lives in the summer of 1974 were cut in half. Many are guilty, but no one paid for the crime committed. Nor did anyone come forward to at least offer an apology.
Instead, all these years later, the Right and the far-right are struggling to hide the truth. To cover it up with forgetfulness and amnesia, to silence the truth with distortions. They do so because if they talk about treason, they must also talk about traitors. If they talk about the crimes that were committed, they must also talk about criminals. And they don’t want to do that…
But the historical truth is present. It lives in the hearts and minds of those who lived through the events. Historical truth stares at those who insist on amnesia in the face, even if they pretend they don’t see it. Historical truth crushes the ideological and political illusions on which the Right has based its core political choices on, leading the country to adventures and tragedies. It reminds us of the fact that democracy was not held at gunpoint by some invisible hand. Historical truth exposes the enormous responsibilities of NATO and those who served its anti-Cypriot plans.
The preservation of historical truth is imperative and necessary for the survival of our people. It is first and foremost a due honor and duty to all those who fought, sacrificed their lives and suffered struggling against fascism and illegality.
To all the fighters of the resistance against the coup and to all those who stood up and resisted the Turkish army invasion to save our country.
The preservation of historical truth acts as a compass for our people’s struggles. Only those who know the historical truth understand that empty words and sloganeering lead nowhere.
Only those who know the truth recognize that nationalism has poisoned our people.
Only those who know the truth recognise that patriotism, intolerance, bigotry, fanaticism and anti-communism have brought bloody tragedies in our country.
That is precisely why such meetings denouncing the twin crimes of the coup and invasion are valuable as they sharpen the memory of our elders and because our young people learn from the traumatic and painful experiences of the past.
It is imperative that the young generation know how we arrived at the Turkish occupation which divided our country in two. It is imperative for young people to know why our land was filled with statues of heroes. Why there are refugee settlements. Why young people’s future stops at the checkpoints.
The historical truth lives on in the many indisputable historical documents that we now have at our disposal. It lives in the two Files opened on the Cyprus tragedy, one in the Greek Parliament and one in the Cypriot Parliament. Now no one can question the evidence presented and not clash with reason. What does the evidence prove?
Firstly, the coup was not some spontaneous action by some kids who got carried away. It was the first act of NATO’s plan to partition Cyprus and transform it into an unsinkable aircraft carrier to further the NATO Alliance’s aggressive plans in the wider Middle East region.
The Turkish invasion was the second act. British-American imperialism tried by various means to impose its plans against Cyprus, but failed. Makarios and the strong resistance of AKEL, which was the main force of resistance, as well as other democratic forces, did not permit the anti-Cypriot plans to succeed, taking advantage of international support, primarily from the socialist community headed by the Soviet Union and the Non-Aligned Movement.
A turning point for the implementation of these plans was the Spring Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers which convened in Lisbon in 1971. There, the Greek Junta and the military rulers of Ankara, together with Britain and the USA, decided to finish with the Cyprus problem. A few weeks later, in August 1971, Grivas arrived secretly to Cyprus to form the armed terrorist, fascist Greek Cypriot organisation EOKA B. The aim of this organization was to create destabilization in Cyprus in order to prepare the ground for the extermination of Makarios. But killing the elected President would mean the overthrow of the constitutional order, which would give Turkey a pretext and an excuse to invade Cyprus, ostensibly to restore order as a guarantor power.
Secondly, the coup d’état paved the way for the invasion. The infiltration of the Greek Cypriot National Guard by the coupists was methodically executed long before July 1974. When the coup occurred, National Guard units whose mission should have been to defend Cyprus in the event of a Turkish invasion were moved from the Kyrenia area to Paphos in order to exterminate Makarios. When the invasion began, the coupist leadership of the National Guard prevented the organisation of the defence of Cyprus because – as they said – the Turkish warships approaching the shores of Cyprus were “carrying out exercises”! So great was the betrayal…
Third, the coup is not some action by fools, but an act of high treason. A treason in which the Greek junta and Cypriot EOKA B gunmen played the leading role. The protagonists were neither foolish, nor insane. They consciously went ahead with their plans – even though they knew that by overthrowing Makarios Turkey would invade Cyprus.
In a country where the greatest crime that has ever been committed has gone unpunished, in a country where the protagonists of the betrayal committed instead of going to jail were promoted/appointed to public posts and even offices, in a country where audacity abounds and the crime of the coup is being portrayed on the TV channels as a “civil war”, one may logically ask, what can we expect from the future?
We give the answer by turning historical truth into a consciousness which guides our actions and defines our path of struggle.
The only way to repel and reverse the partitionist plans of those who organized and ordered the crime of 1974 is the liberation and reunification of our country and people.
This can only be done with the achievement of a solution on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation. This solution constitutes the strong basis and framework for ending the Turkish occupation. For restoring the unity of the land and the people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. For safeguarding the human rights and basic freedoms of our people. For creating conditions of permanent peace, security and cooperation between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who will co-manage their common homeland.
Today, when the situation in Cyprus has never been so critical and dangerous, it is necessary to say things as they really are, by their name. This is what AKEL has always done, and this is what it is doing today. It speaks to the people with honesty and sincerity, however much this may annoy some people – however bitter the truths it says may be.
And the truth is that for many years those who have compromised with the barbed wire of division have let the people sink into illusions.
It is an illusion to consider that the status quo safeguards everything we have achieved as a people and as a country. A bigger illusion is that we can allegedly get by and continue our lives with the ongoing status quo and to believe that we have secured all the rights, all the goods and all the advantages that we have as a state. If the Cyprus problem is not resolved, things will not be as we live them today. Turkey will establish its presence not next to Cyprus but IN Cyprus. With weapons, troops and the continuous colonization of the occupied areas. With the right to define half of Cyprus, with an eye on the other half too.
The security we think we have is an illusion. The Turkish provocations in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Turkish ships that we see from the mainland sneaking into our seas, are irrefutable proof of this. The disputing of the Cypriot EEZ, the obstacles to the development of any energy planning and the exploitation of natural gas, the risks to the security of our country and people are all the result and an extension of the illegal Turkish occupation.
It is an illusion to believe that we have more than one option for a solution to the Cyprus problem. The dilemma is not federation or something else to avoid partition. The dilemma is federation or partition. And the Greek Cypriot side has agreed for decades that the solution we are seeking is federation. It agreed with the Turkish Cypriot community and the international community subsequently adopted it. It is this solution that is contained in the Resolutions of the United Nations, which we invoke and use as our protective shield against the Turkish provocative and illegal actions.
It is an illusion to think that time is working in favour of the solution of the Cyprus problem. History and developments themselves, especially over the last four years, have shattered this illusion.
The passing of time is altering the demographic composition in the occupied territories and directly threatening the very existence of the Turkish Cypriot community itself as it will inevitably be assimilated by Turkey if the Cyprus problem is not resolved.
We therefore cannot be complacent by believing that time is working in favour of a solution. Time is working against a solution and at the same time against our very own future. And unfortunately, the government ruling forces do not seem to realise this.
We warned that the unproductive barren passing of time is working against Cyprus. We had predicted after the Crans Montana debacle that without a resumption of talks and with Turkey relieved of any responsibilities, developments would lead to the imposition of fait accompli in the occupied territories.
We were told by those in power, Mr. Anastasiades, Foreign Minister Mr. Christodoulides and the ruling DISY party, that Turkey wouldn’t dare proceed to open Famagusta, that it was engaging in communication tricks and that it was bluffing. And in the end, Turkey is going ahead with the imposition of fait accompli in Famagusta with the Presidential Office and the ruling DISY party asking “but what else do you want us to do?”
AKEL proposed what else can be done to get the Cyprus problem out of the quagmire. Before the Geneva conference on Cyprus, it submitted to Mr. Anastasiades a concrete proposal on what can be done to resume meaningful talks. We have never claimed that our proposal will necessarily deliver the expected results. But even if this proposal does not deliver what is needed, which is the resumption of negotiations, it will at least remove any pretext for Turkey and it will expose it in the eyes of the international community.
The historical experience of the Cyprus problem proves that Turkey uses every opportunity to promote its plans. It is no coincidence that after the collapse of the Crans Montana conference the Turkish side is now fo0rmally putting forward the position for a two state solution. This is an unacceptable and provocative position, but one that is creating greater difficulties to the efforts to find a solution.
Against the background of these negative developments, the crucial question is: what must we do, how should we confront Turkey’s provocative actions?
There is a way! By taking initiatives that create momentum for the resumption of negotiations. This is the challenge! The resumption of negotiations. If the stalemate persists no matter how much we try to address the deadlock that Turkey is creating in Famagusta and elsewhere, the problems will continue. And even if we manage to prevent the worst for now, in the period ahead we will again have to deal with Turkish provocative and illegal actions which will not end.
Forty-seven years onwards, the sirens have sounded again to remind those of us who lived through the events of 1974 that these days are not like other days. The sirens, it is a fact, evoke traumatic memories. I wonder if the reaction is the same in the minds of the younger generations who did not live the events?
They were raised up with the “I do not forget” slogan, but they have nothing to remember of the occupied places of their parents and grandparents. They only hear stories about them. And when our generation is gone, which is the last generation to have experiences of the occupied territories, there will be no one to recall what life was like living there.
And then everything will be easier for Turkey and all those who planned and sought the partition of Cyprus.
Forty-seven years is a long time. Time is running out dangerously. Let us use the time we have left to save our country from the final partition.
In this crucial struggle, we the militants and members of AKEL will continue to be at the forefront of the struggle.
As we have always been, then and now.
To safeguard the future of our children and grandchildren.
To vindicate the sacrifices of the heroic children of the Left, of the People’s Movement. The sons and daughters of our Cyprus, who sacrificed their lives so that we can breathe the air of freedom and dignity!
Honor and glory to our heroes!