Conference Hall, Ayios Athanasios Municipality, Limassol
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 27 September 2018, Nicosia
We have gathered for yet another year to honorCyprus Independence Day. In other countries such a day is a day of celebration and jubilation. But in Cyprusit is a day of reflection and soul-searching for those who are in deep thought and worried about the future of our country and people.
Cyprus gainedits independence after waging bloody struggles.The Communist Party of Cyprus-AKEL played a leading and pioneering role during our people’s anti-colonial struggle. The references in the Historical Encyclopedia of Cyprus are characteristic, which note that in 1930 "the British Governor was particularly concerned about the activity of the Communists. Their activitieswere the only dissenting voiceto the administration which it had managed to impose."
Unfortunately, the liberation of Cyprus from colonialism hadled to a shackledindependence. Our people experienced many bloody adventures to eventuallyarrive at the Zurich-London agreements and a fettered independence. At a time when the colonial system of imperialism was collapsing, Cyprus gained an independence that was burdened with terms and conditions.
It is extremely important for our people to know, be fully aware and instill what went wrong, not so much for academic and historical reasons, but to draw lessons from the past for today. Fifty-eight years after the proclamation of Cyprus Independence, our people is still struggling for what should be self-evident: to live in freedom and friendship in a reunified homeland, without occupation and foreign troops.
So what was to blame?
AKEL doesn’tshare the approach that blames foreign circles and forces as guilty for everything because this approach ignores the mistakes committed and pardonsand exonerates nationalism and chauvinism. It is equally unhistorical as the approach that apportions responsibility on our people and its leadership, and pardons and exonerates the role of the colonialists and American-NATO imperialism later on.
Some admissionsmust at long last be made today, no matter how annoying they may even be. British colonialism took full advantage of and exploited the circumstances, seeking to safeguard its presence in Cyprus.
It encouraged Turkey's involvement in our country’s internal affairs.
It made Turkey an interested party on the Cyprus problem and instigated and exploited the inter-communal clashes.
Ittook care to render the Cyprus problem from being viewed as a problem of decolonization to a problem of intercommunal confrontation and perceived as a Greek-Turkish dispute.
Within this framework, the Greek governments, faithful to their NATO commitments, did not always play a positive role. This, regrettably, determined developments to a great extent.
Accordingly, the Greek Cypriot side must at long last admit its own responsibilities. The narrow-minded and short-sighted approaches of the Right did not permit the formation of a united anti-colonial front of the whole people. A captive of its anti-communism, the Right ruled out any discussion for co-operation with the Left and projected the dead-end path of armed struggle.
Grivas, a well-known and fanatical anti-communist, had from the very beginning excluded the participationof the Left in the anti-colonial struggle. On 17th April 1955, he noted in his diary that he had written a warning addressed to AKEL not to interfere in the work of EOKA, "otherwise it will be cut down."For sure, it wasn’tjust Grivas’ anti-communism that dictated AKEL’s exclusion. Both Grivas, as well as the Right-wing leadershipback them, knew very well that the day after the anti-colonial struggle, the issue of power would also arise. The liberation of Cyprus from colonialism would leave a "vacuum of power", which the Rightwasn’twilling to permit the Left to assert. They were determined to destroy the influence AKEL had gained, the country’s biggest and most organized political party, so that it wouldn’t have any say and role in political affairs.
Grivas didn’t confine himself toissuing verbal threats. The murders and assassinations of AKEL militants with the dirty smear of “traitor”represented one of the bloodiest and darkest pages of modern Cypriot history. "The principle I pointed out from the very beginning should have been applied with regards the communists...that is to say, they should be beaten, humiliated so that they won’t be able to emerge on the political arena, nor in the arena of struggle. That’s how they’ll be annihilatedpolitically, and in this way the principle which you also propose, namely that weshouldattack our opponents one by one, will be implemented. Instead of doing this, we let the Communists grow strongerand join forces with our two other enemies, the English and Turks, collaborating with them." That is what Grivas wrote to Bishop Anthimos in January 1958.
These words summarize the reasons that armed the murderous hands of Grivas’ masked men. Several decades have elapsed since then and the numerous apologists and glorifiers of Grivashaven’t found the courage to fulfill their duty: to confess to committing the crimes, apologize and to restore, even now, the name of the murdered AKEL militants even now. However, the admission of Glafkos Clerides (Note: historical leader of the Right)to the Committee on the Cyprus File in Parliament is also recorded that "someone who has people murdering those who do not believe in the same ideals as him is a murderer."
Nationalism and chauvinism in both communities led to bloody clashes that enabled the colonialists to determine developments. As to what is to blame, developments themselves give an answer. The designs and plans of the British and Americans were in place. They wouldn’t have been realized if there weren’t any Cypriots to open the back door.
On the one hand as far as the Greek Cypriot nationalists is concerned, independence was viewed as merely a stepping stone on the road to “Enosis” (union of Cyprus with Greece), while for the Turkish Cypriot nationalists on the other hand it was seen as a stepping stone on the road to partition. Many Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, who believed in independence and loved the Republic of Cyprus as their common home, paid the ultimate price with their own bloodbecause they struggled for this ideal.
The non-aligned policy pursued by the Republic of Cyprus in the years after independence and the increasingly stronger presence of AKEL on the political arena were the main obstacles to the plans seeking to impose NATO control over Cyprus. The dissolution of democracy in Greece with the Greek dictatorship of the Colonels, the undermining and ultimately the overthrow of the Republic with the execution of the 15thJuly 1974 coupd’état in Cyprus and the subsequent Turkish invasion, were the second act of the drama of our people which was planned and guided by the Americans and British.
We did not, therefore, love the Republic of Cyprus as we should have. We did not all perceive through the same lens. That is to say, as a shield to repel aggressions; as the joint gain of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots; as the foundation on which the cooperation of the two communities – no matter the difficulty - could create a better future for our country.
Referring to today, our responsibility is twofold because History is there and looks at us straight in the eye. Mr. Anastasiades must, even at this stage, realize that. For six years now he has been handling the Cyprus problem, and if we are to judge from the outcome, then Mr. Anastasiades has failed. Contradictions, regressions and inconsistencies are the main characteristics of his handlings on the Cyprus problem. Unfortunately, due to this behavior, a lot of problems have been created in the procedure of the talks, but the crucialthing is that our people is slowly losing hope. Worst of all is that Turkey isn’t being held to account, while every day that passes by deepens and consolidates the fait accompli.
Today, Mr. Anastasiades addresses the international community from the podium of the United Nations General Assembly. The statements he made at his departure gave us an idea of his approach. As expected, they provoked our reaction. The reason is simple. Fifteen months after the Crans Montana conference, Mr. Anastasiades departed from New York talking about the need for good preparation for the resumption of the negotiations. However, each and every one logically wonders, what has Mr. Anastasiades done for almost half a year? We do not know of any initiative he has undertaken. One thing is certain. Namely, that he did not feel the need to consult with anyone. He did not convene a session of the National Council. He did not show concern about the developments in Turkey and in the occupied areas. He did not show to be particularly concerned about the resumption of the negotiations.
Mr. Anastasiades must at long last stop looking for excuses and pretexts to shirk from his responsibilities. The Secretary-General of the United Nations in consecutive Reports he has submitted towards the Security Council outlines the path for a resumption of the negotiations. He calls on the two leaders to convince him of their political will to proceed until the conclusion of the negotiations. Mr. Guterres was quite clear in his Report: he calls on the two leaders to continue from where they had remained at Crans Montana.
As far as the substantive part is concerned, the UNSG he calls on them to reaffirm the convergences that have been achieved so far, the Guterres framework and the mechanism for the implementation of the solution.
With regards the procedural part, there should be a package negotiation of the six main pending issues, which indeedhe defines: Security and guarantees (at the conference table). Territory, property, the effective participation in the bodies and decisions at a federal level, the equal treatment of Greek and Turk citizens (at the second table with negotiation between the leaders of the two communities). Confronting Turkish intransigence, let’s make use of them for the resumption of the negotiations. That’s where Turkey’s genuine intentions will be revealed. It will either be forced to cooperate, or it will be exposed.
As AKEL we fully agree with the above approach. At the point where we have arrived, this is the correct course to reach a successful outcome, and indeedwithin a short period of time.
The positions the UN Secretary-General expresses on the framework he submitted at Crans Montana, are such that they shield us.
We want to believe that Mr. Anastasiades and DISY understand and share what is included in the Secretary-General's Report. Unfortunately, as time passes by there is an increasingly growingambient atmosphere about studying other solutions and approaches. Mr. Anastasiades and DISY must realize that we are literally at the 11th hour: either we will now exhaust all possibilitiesin the effort to reunite our country, or we will open the door to the nightmarish scenario of partition. Mr. Anastasiades must recognize the critical nature of the period if he does not want to go down in history as the President of partition.
On the pretext of criticisms made of Mr. Anastasiades’ handlings, the government ruling forces are accusing us of obsessions and that we are fostering Turkish intransigence.
What we say today is precisely what we have been saying all along over the last years. Back then they were saying AKEL is a patriotic, responsible and serious political force. Now they are accusing us of being obsessive.
It is their own handlings that are enablingTurkey to avoid any responsibility being apportioned on it and fostering its intransigence. I will reiterate that if at Crans Montana Mr. Anastasiades demonstrated a readinessand determination then Turkey will either have been forced to cooperate or it would have been exposed.
As regards the Secretary-General of the UN, we shall again tell them that he doesn’t need to hear from us what the positions and handlings of Mr. Anastasiades are. He experienced them at Crans Montana and heard them from his Special Envoy Mrs. Lute as well.
Cyprus won’t be saved by casinos, with the game of selling passports and the various business affairs of the Presidential Palace’s entourage. Cyprus will be saved only it is reunited.
For decades, Turkey has been promoting policies that are deepening the Turkish Cypriot community’s dependence on Ankara and undermining it. It promoted the economic integration of the occupied territories through financing in the construction and tourism sector and beyond. It is seeking to constantly interfere in the occupied areas andattempting to cultivate religion as a means of exercising greater control over society. A section of the Turkish Cypriot community is resisting all of these actions. But a small community will not always endure to stand up to powerful Turkey.
If the Rightand ultra-right in the Greek Cypriot community doesn’t understand this, this time they will irreparably damage Cyprus.
AKEL will continue to struggle for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
A solution that will terminate the occupation and colonization based on UN Resolutions, the High-Level Agreements, International and European Law.
A solution that will demilitarize Cyprus and exclude interventions and guarantees from foreign powers.
A solution that will reunite the land, the people, the institutions and the economy.
A bi-communal, bi-zonal federal solution with political equality as described in the United Nations texts.
A solution that will lead to one state as a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship.
A few days ago, the editor-in-chief of the Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper “Yeni Duzen” wrote a trulyoverwhelming article, primarily addressingits Turkish Cypriot compatriot readers. If one reads it, one may well assume that it addresses Greek Cypriots as well. It is titled "When the sand castle collapses" and addressing Turkish Cypriots on the pretext of the crisis in the Turkish economy and the illegal pseudo-state’s dependence on Ankara the articleposes the following rhetorical question: "How many crises do we need to face the truth bluntly? How many more seasons? The tower you built on sand is collapsing...Can’tyou see it?"
He is absolutely right. Everything we think that we build in this country is built on sand. We built it on the foundations of uncertainty. As long as there are barbed wires of division, as long as the occupation and colonization continues, as the troops increase, we can’t build anythingon solid foundations. If this is of no importance whatsoever to the few who want to level this countryfor the sake of their millions, for us, for the "common people", as the poet has called us, for our people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, reunification and peace in our country is a matter of life and death. For our children and grandchildren to live in a peaceful and reunited Cyprus to vindicate the sacrifices of all humble Cypriot patriots, to pave the way for the future, for our own future.
All of us, and so many others, like a great river of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who want this country to reunite, to in peace and go forward, will not stop shouting:
This country is ours!
We do not give it away to anyone!
This country is ours!
And we shallreunify it!