Exclusive interview with the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL, Andros Kyprianou, “OPINION” newspaper 19/11/2016
AKEL’s conditions for accepting a plan for a solution
- AKEL will never accept confederation
- AKEL was and is fighting for a federal solution as agreed
- Ending the effort to reach an agreement will consolidate the fait accomplis with the danger of the full “Turkification” of Cyprus
- Neither Turkish, nor any NATO guarantees
- Anastasiades’ approach on security issues with Russia left out of his contacts is erroneous
- AKEL will never accept Memoranda options to address the cost of the solution
- With the solution, the history of the Left will again be written in red
- The worker’s movement – united – will write again militant pages of struggles and assertions
– I have read very carefully the decision of the plenary of the C.C. of AKEL and I must say that it creates in us the same feeling we always have in relation to its patriotic consistency both among Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots – as the Plenary decision itself states.
What I would like to ask is under what preconditions would a final plan for the solution of the Cyprus problem be accepted by AKEL?
AK: In very general terms, I would say that it must be in line with the agreed frameworks, as defined by the relevant UN resolutions, the High-Level Agreements, International Law and the principles on which the EU is founded.
More specifically, I would say that it is imperative that the solution must lead to a united state with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality and with political equality, of course, as set out by the United Nations. The solution must liberate us from the occupation and prohibit the possibility of any interventions in our country’s internal affairs. It must free us from the guarantees and rights of intervention and safeguard basic freedoms and human rights, and as I said previously, to unite the country as a whole.
– How do you respond to the concerns expressed by some well-intentionally and others as a pretext that the prescribed solution leads to a confederation of two states? According to the facts your Party knows so far, do you envisage such a danger?
AK: Absolutely no. What is being discussed currently and all that was being discussed during the Demetris Christofias governance have nothing to do whatsoever with confederation. When we speak of a united state with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality, when basic freedoms and human rights are safeguarded, we really wonder how come certain circles and forces declare that we are moving towards confederation. Do you know when confederation is established? When there are two separate states…
– You mean when both are recognized.
AK: This happens when both are recognized, meet and decide to come together in a loose union at the centre. In our case, central government will be strong, that is we will have anything but a loose federation. Currently 28 competences of the central government are under discussion, around 21 had been agreed between Christofias and Talat, and today some additional competences are being discussed.
– Do you mean that Mr. Anastasiades who was formerly an advocate of a loose federation has changed his position?
AK: Yes Mr. Anastasiades has made a shift in his position not only on this issue, but also on many other issues and has basically accepted the Christofias – Talat convergences to a very large degree. This shift has enabled progress to be recorded in the negotiations so far. Hence, therefore, to come back to your question, I say that what we are aiming at is federation and not confederation.
Let me clarify that AKEL will never accept confederation. AKEL was and is struggling for a federal solution as we have agreed to it.
“AKEL’s role and intervention is constructive”
– During this critical phase of the Cyprus problem, how does AKEL intervene actively in developments and have you ascertained instances where the Left’s intervention, the leadership of AKEL, has affected developments towards the path that is the desirable in order to achieve a solution with the provisions you have outlined previously?
AK: We always seek to act constructively. I would like to clarify that AKEL also has concerns. The effort to reach a solution is not easy and there is always the risk of mistakes being made. Concerns should not, however, lead us to conclude that we must terminate the effort to reach an agreement. Woe if this were to happen because the developments will be much worse. The faits accomplis will be consolidated with the danger that we will at some stage arrive at the full “Turkification” of Cyprus.
We are therefore trying to be constructive. We talk with President Anastasiades on all matters within the National Council and simultaneously convey our views there and where necessary, in an attempt to convince him of the correctness of some issues.
Let me cite two examples, which I would say concern the people to a large extent: the National Health Plan Scheme and the Social Insurance Fund. There has been an approach by Mr. Anastasiades that these issues should be separated. Because our determined stand he has accepted that these issues will commence separately – because the differences in the initial stage are so great that you cannot do so otherwise – but there will be the perspective of unifying these two huge social issues, so that the situations in both communities will be identical for the people. For us this is extremely important if we want to uphold social cohesion and consequently the continuity of the Republic of Cyprus.
“No to any Memoranda policies”
– Since you have referred to economic issues – and I will come back to the other issues later on – the working people, the broad masses are perhaps worried by the danger, if any, of a new Memorandum being imposed to address the economic problems that will arise as a result of the solution of the Cyprus problem. Is there such a possibility?
AK: The cost of the solution is an important parameter and we should all reflect on and be concerned about this possibility. We need to find appropriate solutions.
Let me make it clear that AKEL will never accept any Memoranda options to cover the cost of the solution. It is important that with the solutions to be given with regards the property issue the cost of the solution of the Cyprus problem will be reduced as much as possible, namely that the cost won’t be very big.
This is the first objective that we should be seeking. The second objective which we make clear must be sought is that what had been agreed between Demetris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat must be implemented, namely each community will undertake the obligation to pay off the loans it has made since 1963 when we began living separately. This means that Turkey must meet or, better still, write off the 17 billion Euros which the Turkish Cypriot community owes it.
Furthermore, the European Union will have to assume responsibilities. During his visit to Cyprus European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stated that the EU will provide economic assistance to the solution, if and when it is agreed and that a Donor Conference should be convened, which could also cover a significant part of the costs.
I should say that the international community has a duty, in our view, to contribute towards addressing the cost of the solution. The cost isn’t so big so as to be prohibitive for the powerful states of the world to make their contribution, while with the solution they would secure stability and peace in the wider region and the possibility would be given to Cyprus to be viewed as a model for solving other regional problems as well.
“Neither Turkish, nor any NATO guarantees”
– I’m moving on to another subject under discussion and which the people of the Left are most concerned about. The ideological obsessions of Mr. Anastasiades and the leadership of the governing DISY party are well-known, with their fundamental dogma arguing that “Cyprus belongs to the West”. How does AKEL intervene to prevent the continuation of the suffocating stranglehold of EU-NATO?
AK: I said previously that the solution should free us from the right of intervention in our domestic affairs. And we are adamant on this. It must not only rid us from the Turkish guarantees. We struggled and I think we have convinced everyone that there cannot be any NATO guarantees. And this issue of NATO guarantees is no longer being discussed by anyone, I must say. This is something which is solely attributable to AKEL, despite the criticism we had faced from various quarters that we are supposedly negative.
– Returning to Cyprus, Mr. Anastasiades and those expressing him, refer mostly and intensely to the contacts the President will have had – he already had a telephone conversation with US Vice-president Joe Biden – with European countries. He more or less leaves Russia factor out of his contacts, to which, as I understand it, AKEL invests in, which is why in fact you visited Moscow heading an AKEL delegation. Statements were made by Russian side. There have been, yesterday too, statements by the Russian Ambassador here in Nicosia who told us that the Russian Minister is constantly monitoring the developments on the Cyprus problem. Is your sense that our Government does not count on this factor?
AK: I think that Mr. Anastasiade’s approach on this issue is wrong. Now and then he briefs the Russian Foreign Minister of course, but I think he should be seeking Mr. Lavrov’s greater involvement on important matters. And when I talk about important issues on which Russia can play a role, these concern the security issues. This is precisely where all the permanent members of the UN Security Council must have a role to play. This is our demand and I believe that Russia’s participation in these discussions will help towards having a better approach on these issues.
During AKEL’s visit to Moscow Mr. Lavrov was very clear. Russia supports the solution of the Cyprus problem. If and provided it is requested, Russia wants to play a role in the issues relating to security and of course it clarifies that the solution must be the result of the free will of the Cypriots themselves. That is, there must not be any attempts through external interventions to impose a solution on Cypriots. Furthermore, the Russian Foreign Minister made it clear that there is no place for any arbitrations and timeframes in this effort.
“Common class struggles of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working people”
– In your speech at the meeting organized by AKEL to denounce the proclamation of the pseudo-state, you concluded with a reference to the day after the solution, with the hope that the history of the Left and common class struggles will again be written in red. So, what does the day after the solution mean for the Left, for the working people and popular strata?
AK: First and foremost, a huge prospect for peace and stability will be created that will arise as a result of the solution itself. A dynamic in the Cyprus economy will be generated, which is extremely important in the crisis which the Cyprus economy is still experiencing to this day.
Regardless of what is said by various quarters, the fact remains – the Cypriot economy faces huge problems and it is the working people who are primarily paying its consequences.
Furthermore, as I also mentioned during my speech, the possibility of waging common class struggles between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot workers will also be created to fight for their rights. I consider this as extremely important.
We must not forget that in the past Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots struggled together and gained significant victories. Let me remind you that during the great struggles of the miners and construction workers in the 1940’s, especially in 1948, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot workers fought together and won very significant gains in their assertions.
All this, then, could resume and golden pages in the history of the workers movement could again be written, a movement which after the solution will again be united.
“The issue with KKE is closed – appeal for a dialogue”
– Bearing in mind all that you’ve said about the solution under discussion, the situation we have so far and with your conclusion, it appears that the concerns expressed by the comrades of Greece, the Communist Party, have no basis whatsoever, both with regards the concerns raised about embraces with NATO and entrapment of class assertions.
AK: The view of each party regarding the Cyprus problem is respected. Of course it should never escape our attention that it is the Cypriot people themselves who will decide about the solution to the Cyprus problem. We have replied in writing to the Greek Communist Party as to the concerns it has expressed. I therefore consider that the issue is closed, stressing again that concerns exist – and we also have concerns – but we take care with the way we handle the various issues to ensure that all these will be limited and whatever concerns will not be materialized.
Our appeal therefore to the Communist Party of Greece is that we discuss these issues between us, as we had been discussing them for years. We don’t need public confrontations around these issues, because we believe that the two parties are connected by a fraternal cooperation over many decades and as we have learned over all these years we should discuss and resolve the differences between us, so that’s what should apply now as well.
– Given of course that the position of the leading guiding body which is the Party Congress, their Congress decision hasn’t changed, so do you therefore see there is scope for waging a discussion?
AK: I think there is scope for a debate, of course their intention is that the decision of their Central Committee is to be discussed at their Congress where they will take relevant decisions.