Statements by General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL S.Stefanou during the visit to the First Municipal Market of Limassol

5 March 2022, AKEL C.C. Press Office, Nicosia

Today we have continued our contacts with the people and society in an admittedly very difficult period.

The high cost of living and price increases have for several months now started to put pressure on the family budget and plague households and businesses. The situation is becoming even more pressing and the prospects of combating this phenomenon are unfortunately not good if we take into account what is currently unfolding in Ukraine which is affecting – and will continue to affect – the price of very essential commodities that directly and indirectly affect Cyprus.

It is for this very reason that we as a Party, for some time now, have been issuing appeals to the government to take all those necessary measures to deal with price increases and protect households, society and the economy.

The day before yesterday the government took two measures. They are in the right direction, albeit very late. I hasten to stress that these measures are not enough. Much more needs to be done.

We have put forward very concrete proposals, immediately applicable and, we believe, effective, so that we can relieve the burden on households and help businesses. I repeat, our proposals are very specific. At the same time, we believe that the government should activate the tools that exist and the competent services to tackle the phenomena of profiteering, which every time there is a price increase rises sharply. Putting cap can also be used. At this point I want to stress that caps shouldn’t only apply when profiteering is observed.

We also need ceilings to be set so as to protect households, in particular the vulnerable groups of the population, the low-paid, the retired on low pensions, the unemployed and young people. It is for this very reason that we are calling on the government to activate this tool for various goods and products to protect people.

At the same time, I would like to recall once again that AKEL has asked in a letter to the President of the Republic for the meeting of the Council of Political Leaders to be convened, together with the relevant Ministers and the competent government departments in order to reflect on, discuss and assess the situation as it is evolving with the war in Ukraine.

AKEL has its own assessments of the consequences and problems that will be caused by this very tragic situation in Ukraine. At the same time, we have elaborated specific proposals and opinions on how we could deal with these problems to the greatest possible extent. I reiterated this to the President the day before yesterday when we had the National Council meeting. I must say that the President responded positively. He told me that upon his return from his trip abroad he would convene the Council of Political Leaders. I want to convey again AKEL’s willingness and intention to help in this effort that will have to be made.

Today we are in a very beautiful place here in the Limassol market. I must say that these kinds of activities and spaces really enrich both the recreational/cultural arena that exists in Cyprus and the opportunities to make creative use of time.

Talking to the people here, I think it is easy to come to the conclusion that the pandemic has and is still causing problems. That there is also concern about what will subsequently happen with the situation in Ukraine. At the same time there is also optimism that we can deal with the problems and move forward. It is very important on the one hand to have a clear picture of the situation and on the other hand to always seek solutions behind the problems. That is AKEL’s outlook.

QUESTION: Some contacts have taken place recently between AKEL and some presidential candidates. We are aware of the situation in Ukraine, but there are also the presidential elections. Has AKEL come up with any thoughts on a possible candidate?

SS: We had a meeting this week with the president of the Democratic Party, Nicolas Papadopoulos. This is part of the decision we have taken as a Party to seek to forge cooperation with both the Democratic Party and the Ecologists, but if we manage to, also with the other opposition parties and all those who share with us the belief that things in the country must change. That we need to rid ourselves of the DISY government that has caused incredible and profound deadlocks in all those important areas that determine the course of the country and the people. This change is imperative. And at the same time, we must elect a president and a government with a progressive programme that will not only address the deadlocks, but open a new perspective for the country and society.

In addition to the meeting I had with Mr. Papadopoulos, which we will certainly continue with the aim of arriving at the necessary convergences and consensus for cooperation, I will also seek to meet with the leaders of the other opposition parties in the coming days. I believe that soon we will be able to have a better picture of the prospects for cooperation and a common path ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.

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