Speech by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL Stefanos Stefanou at the rally to denounce the anniversary of the declaration of the pseudo-state in the occupied areas

15 November 2022, AKEL C.C. Press Office, Nicosia

The meeting denouncing the declaration of the illegal regime [in the occupied areas] that we hold every year is an expression of our determination never to accept the partitionist facts caused by the twin crimes of the treasonous coup d’état and the brutal Turkish army invasion in the horrific summer of 1974.

It is an expression of our determination to confront the pessimism and fatalism regarding the prospects for a solution of the Cyprus problem which are being fueled by the prolonged stalemate, the inaction of the Anastasiades-Averof-Christodoulides government and the public rhetoric conveyed by various circles.

However, above all, the meeting denouncing the illegal regime is an expression of our determination to keep trying, to keep mobilising and to keep fighting for a solution that will liberate and reunite our country and people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

We would be delusional if we were to ignore the difficulties and adversities that we are called upon to overcome today so that we can turn hope into a realistic prospect. But what are these difficulties and how have we been driven to them?

After an arduous and sincere effort to put the Cyprus problem back on track for its solution, the then leaders of the two communities, Christofias and Talat, were able to agree on a number of important convergences. Although at that specific time these convergences were demonised, today the only people who question their value are those forces and circles who confuse even the fairest and most honorable compromise with what they consider to be an unacceptable retreat. In other words, those who perceive negotiation as the complete predominance of their own out-of-place maximalist positions.

We are talking about those forces and circles who do not understand the difference between what is desirable and what is possible.

Those who have learned nothing from the history of our country, especially that insistence on the desirable causes problems and brings exactly the opposite results to those sought.

The Christofias – Talat convergences were essentially the cornerstone of the Anastasiades – Akinci negotiations since 2014, culminating in the Crans Montana talks in 2017, which unfortunately ended in a collapse.

Turkey being relieved of any responsibilities for the inglorious outcome of the Conference on Cyprus, as recorded in the UN Secretary General’s September 2017 Report, is perhaps the worst legacy left by the failure of Crans-Montana. The collapse of the talks at Crans Montana was not just another failure. It was a failure that Turkey turned into an alibi that it systematically invokes for its outrageous provocations in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus and in Famagusta. It is on this failure that the occupying power is invoking to seek the international community’s tolerance in the face of the partitionist fait accompli that it is planning on our island.

If the long history of the Cyprus problem teaches us anything, it is that the worst fait accompli on the ground arise when a negotiation procedure is absent and when it is accompanied by Turkey not being assigned any responsibilities. The history of the Cyprus problem is full of examples of fait accompli that were created at such times.

The illegal regime in the occupied areas was declared in 1983 after the rejection of the indicators tabled by the former UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar. The formal shift by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership from federation to confederation in 1997, occurred after the deadlock in the Montreux talks in 1997. This, of course, was assisted by the then government’s well-known misguided pre-election demagoguery concerning the frenzy surrounding the supposed arrival of S-300 missiles and the so-called “active volcano” narrative. We also had serious negative side effects in 2004 after the referenda. It was then that various international circles tried very hard to promote direct trade with the occupied territories.

The government ruling forces should therefore have known that another failure, especially in a procedure under Cypriot ownership that had brought us so close to a comprehensive solution based on the agreed framework, would have generated an avalanche of negative developments.

They therefore ought to have drawn the relevant lessons from the history of the Cyprus problem.

Instead of doing so, they not only handled Crans Montana in a way that was demonstrably catastrophic, but remained committed to pursuing dead-end policies, with misguided judgements and obsessive delaying tactics, which are confirming on a daily basis the ineffectiveness of their judgement and the damaging nature of their orientation.

As a result of the erroneous handlings made by Anastasiades-Christodoulides and the guilty cover-up provided by Averof Neophytou, the subsequent wave of ramifications have already covered the sandy beaches of Famagusta in a threatening way.

Turkey, in conditions of the shaming of the Greek Cypriot side among the international community that was caused by the erroneous policy of the Anastasiades-DISY government, is exploiting the stagnation on the Cyprus problem by systematically seeking to change the status quo on the ground.

Turkey is constantly proceeding with new provocative actions against the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus in the EEZ.

It is proceeding to impose new negative fait accompli in violation of the UN Law of the Sea.

It is dangerously militarising the occupied territories and proceeding to new phases of colonisation.

In addition, Turkey has already proceeded to open part of the enclosed town of Varosha and threatens to falsify the history of the place by attempting to turn Famagusta into the cultural capital of the Turkish-speaking populations.

With the occupation leader Ersin Tatar as an accomplice and leader, for the first time since the removal of Rauf Denktash, we are called upon to address positions and de facto actions that promote the position of ‘sovereign equality’ and a two state solution.

One wonders whether all this could not have been foreseen? And what actions could have been taken, but never were, that could have prevented, if anything, the consolidation of new partitionist fait accompli and kept the flame of hope for a solution alive?

AKEL was issuing warnings, but which weren’t taken into account at all as has now been proven, that the Greek Cypriot side’s shattered credibility will not be recovered through mere rhetorical declarations of our commitment to the agreed basis for a solution. AKEL warned that the so-called “new ideas” of Mr. Anastasiades are essentially erroneous. We warned that they cancel out fundamental convergences that the Anastasiades-Averof-Christodoulides trio otherwise said they wanted to preserve. We warned that the President’s flirtations with a two state solution would be the perfect alibi that Ankara was looking for to proceed with the fulfillment of its illegal plans.

We do not rejoice in the vindication of our warnings about the consequences of the policy pursued by the Anastasiades-Christodoulides-Averof trio. For us, the “tsunamis” [of negative developments] were not a figure of speech, but a devastating reality that we will continue to try to reverse.

We will never exonerate Turkey.

We will never absolve it of its grave responsibilities as a foreign invader, as an occupying power, as the perpetrator of the illegal creation of an illegal entity in half of our homeland.

We will never stop pointing the finger at Turkey as being responsible for the violation of the human rights of Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins.

At the same time, however, we will not line up alongside those who have declared themselves ready to give away EEZ’s.

We will not cease recalling that when Famagusta faced the threats Turkey was issuing, both Nikos Christodoulides and Averof Neophytou were not alarmed and referred to these threats as “communication tricks”.

We will continue to recall that at the time of big decisions and the need to demonstrate the Greek Cypriot side’s commitment to the resumption of the negotiations, the government ruling forces were focused on the ‘golden’ passports scheme and the construction of towers in Limassol.

We will underline that the government ruling forces, instead of closely monitoring Turkey’s new partitionist actions as they should have done, were promoting and covering up wiretapping/surveillance by black spy vans, how many and who of which no one knows since they give no information at all on the issue.

Those forces and circles whose policies facilitated Turkey and Tatar to consolidate day by day the permanent partition are not suitable and cannot change the course of events. The Cyprus problem is perhaps at the most critical moment in its history. It is at a turning point in its course, the direction of which will depend to a large extent on the adoption of policies and initiatives that create and open up prospects. It is clear that we must do everything we can to remove the pretexts and excuses that Turkey is invoking to push things towards the permanent partition of Cyprus. We are called upon to fill the vacuum being invoked by third parties by submitting proposals that ultimately undermine the mutual compromises that we have achieved over time.

For the Greek Cypriot side to regain its credibility among the international community, with the UN Secretary General, but also with the Turkish Cypriots, we must return to the path abandoned after Crans-Montana.

We must at long last listen to the importance of what Mr. Guterres has for some time now been repeating in the reports he has been submitting.

We need to reaffirm in practice our commitment to the convergences recorded so far, to seek to make the Guterres Framework a strategic consensus without asterisks and footnotes.

We are called upon to make use of the informal document on the implementation mechanism for the solution, which focused on the termination of the Treaty of Guarantee and all unilateral intervention rights and the speedy withdrawal of the occupying troops.

Το achieve this goal, we must give well-intentioned incentives that should never cross our “red lines”, both to Turkish Cypriots and to Turkey, to be implemented after the solution of the Cyprus problem, as envisaged in a very specific way in the proposal AKEL has elaborated and submitted, a proposal that includes making use of the energy and natural gas factor as an incentive for a solution. In other words, the one that Mr. Averof Neofytou is belatedly presenting as supposedly his own proposal. First and foremost, of course, this time we must leave no doubts whatsoever as to the form of the solution of bicommunal, bi-zonal federation we are seeking and the importance we attach to the effective respect of the political equality of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots.

So the Cyprus problem is not finished, despite the fact that the disastrous handling of the Anastasiades-Christodoulides-Averof government permits Turkey to exploit the unproductive passage of time and promote partition at no real cost at all. Time is working against us by eroding our core negotiating positions on the ground, such as on property, territory and the issue of the settlers. However, it will not end until the solution we are fighting for is signed.

Until then, AKEL will continue to give every ounce of our strength to confront the leaders of the non-solution of the Cyprus problem in our own community as well.

We will continue to fight to return to the only option before us of negotiating on the agreed basis of a solution.

We will continue the struggle until the final vindication of the sacrifices of our people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

We will continue to develop our relations and cooperation with the progressive forces of the Turkish Cypriots and promote rapprochement with a view to promoting the common struggle for a solution.

The stakes of the upcoming presidential elections regarding the Cyprus problem are one and one only: do we continue with the same policies that led us to the current suffocating deadlocks or do we change course by pursuing those policies that point the way to a solution?

The two DISY candidates, Averof Neophytou and Nikos Christodoulides, cannot and, as they declare, do not want to change Anastasiades’ policies.

On the other hand, the independent candidate Andreas Mavroyiannis has clear positions, proposals that adopt the UN Secretary General’s Framework and the mechanism that abolishes the Treaty of Guarantee and any unilateral intervention rights and ensures the swift withdrawal of the occupation troops. Andreas Mavroyiannis respects the convergences that have been reached, believes in them and is ready to continue in practice and not in words from where we had remained at Crans Montana – without any experimentation and backtrackings, but with perseverance, consistency and credibility.

Dear friends,
Dear compatriots,

Today, to end as I began my speech, we are not here to commemorate half of our country. Our meeting today, on the occasion of the illegal declaration of the pseudo-state, is a renewal of our commitment to continue to struggle for liberation and reunification.

We will not give our homeland away to anyone.

We will never betray our people.

We will do everything in our power to dream again, as our great poet Theodosis Pierides says, on the walls of our beloved Famagusta.

To walk freely again in the fortress of Kyrenia.

To meet again with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots in a free, common homeland in which together we can decide and work for its peaceful, secure and happy future.

We owe this to our children and grandchildren to whom we have no right to burden them with the dangerous abomination of the occupation and partition of our homeland.

We owe this to our militant history and patriotic activity!

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