Speech by the General Secretary of the Central Committee of AKEL S.Stefanou at the event in memory and honor of the heroic martyrs of the friendship between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots Dervis Ali Kavazoglou and Kostas Misiaouli
Sunday 9 April 2023, Dali
We have gathered here once again to pay tribute and honor the memory of two Heroes and Martyrs of our Cyprus and of the struggles our Party: comrades Dervis Ali Kavazoglou and Kostas Misiaouli.
Honoring the memory of Kavazoglou and Misiaouli means commitment and action for what our two comrades believed and were struggling for:
They believed and struggled for a free Cyprus in which our people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, will sovereignly decide our future.
They believed and fought for a Cyprus that should belong to its people and neither for a Greek, nor for a Turkish Cyprus.
They believed and fought for a bi-communal state to be co-administered by the two politically equal communities of Cyprus.
Our two comrades actively participated in our Party’s efforts and mobilizations to counter the internal and external conspiracies launched against Cyprus.
Within the ranks of our Party they struggled to combat the nationalist, intolerant and criminal activity of the extreme right in both communities. The far-right was undermining and fighting against the independent, bicommunal state. Its policy found room and was fuelled by the fact that the ruling elites in both communities – who a few years earlier had signed the agreements that gave rise to the bicommunal state – remained attached to the policies of Enosis (Note: the union of Cyprus with Greece) for some and partition for others.
Kavazoglou and Misiaoulis sacrificed their lives for the vision of a free common homeland.
AKEL devotes all its strength and forces to the vision of this homeland. It struggles for a free, independent, peaceful, democratic and common homeland of Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins.
Everything that our two heroes fought and sacrificed their lives for is still relevant today, fifty-eight years after their assassination.
The vision of a common homeland has as a prerequisite the solution of the Cyprus problem. And at the same time it demands that we refuse to compromise with the partitionist status quo; the refusal to accept the illusion of false security fuelled by the provisional nature [of the status quo].
AKEL has never compromised with the idea that there are many options before us. The option before is either a solution of a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality or partition. This is what is really at stake. That has always been the stakes since 1974.
AKEL has never compromised with the logic of waiting for some indefinite period of time which will supposedly create better preconditions for the solution of the Cyprus problem. Developments have proven that the passage of time has consolidated the de facto occupation and the permanent partition of our homeland is getting closer and closer.
We are ringing the alarm about this fact. Partition is a threat to all of us. The cause of the solution of the Cyprus problem concerns the future of all of us and is not open to any petty factional interests or electoral considerations. After all, the elections are over and the problems demand solutions. And they cannot be solved by any rhetorical sloganeering and verbal acrobatics, but by pursuing specific policies that are evaluated and judged by their results.
This particularly concerns the Cyprus problem, which is currently in a desperate situation. We are facing the longest stalemate ever witnessed. The Greek Cypriot side is held jointly responsible by the United Nations for the prolonged deadlock on the Cyprus problem. Turkey is taking advantage of the whole situation and creating new occupation fait accompli on the ground without facing any real political cost and consequences.
It is imperative and urgent that action is taken to break the deadlock. It is necessary to resume the negotiations from the point where they were interrupted [at Crans Montana] on the basis of the Guterres Framework, preserving all the convergences that have been recorded so far which are extremely important and valuable.
President Christodoulides has been stating that he is ready to set a positive agenda for Turkey to set in motion incentives to bring Turkey to the negotiating table.
This is something AKEL has insisted on over the years, especially after 2017 and the failure of the Crans Montana Conference [on Cyprus]. This approach is based on a basic axiom of political science and experience. A solution to problems is achieved when common interests are sought and when a win-win situation emerges.
Unfortunately, the path pursued after 2017 was in exactly the opposite direction. The policy of seeking the imposition of EU sanctions against Turkey was followed, which not only did not yield results and precious time was lost, but also aggravated the problems and difficulties.
A positive agenda is therefore necessary to create momentum for the resumption of the negotiations. But it is not enough to advertise this urgent necessity. We need to give it content that does indeed gives incentives to Turkey. President Christodoulides believes that Euro-Turkish issues can form the positive agenda. He believes that a number of issues such as the visa regime for Turkish passports and the upgrading of the EU-Turkey customs union are sufficient incentives for Turkey to come back to the negotiating table.
We have a different assessment from that of the President. For us, Euro-Turkey relations cannot create momentum for the resumption of negotiations. There are numerous reasons for this:
Firstly, the issues concerning EU-Turkey relations are at an impasse and in essence everything is frozen.
Secondly, in order to open and, even more so, to agree on issues of this nature, unanimity of the EU member states is needed. Given that a significant number of member states have strong views on Euro-Turkish issues, one can with mathematical certainty predict what will happen if an attempt is made to open or promote them. We will face opposition from member states and, instead of discussing with Turkey, we will spend our energy and devote valuable time in convincing them of the steps that will serve the goal of the resumption of the negotiations.
Thirdly and most importantly, Turkey does not integrate or link the Cyprus problem with the Euro-Turkish issues, but with developments and its role in the Eastern Mediterranean. The key issue for Turkey is the ongoing developments surrounding the field of energy.
Energy developments in our region and regarding Cypriot natural gas are the field that can provide strong incentives for Turkey to engage in negotiations on the Cyprus problem. We are convinced that this is an area where we should persist on in order to create a positive agenda.
At the recent session of the National Council (Note: an advisory consultative body to the given President of the Republic on the Cyprus problem composed of all the parliamentary political parties and former Presidents), we again outlined the proposal AKEL had submitted to the former President in December 2020 to turn the issue of energy in the Eastern Mediterranean into a positive agenda. The proposal includes issues that are among Turkey’s priorities and concerns. The proposal is based on the logic that Turkey can benefit from a series of developments and decisions on energy issues following the solution of the Cyprus problem. Incentives and benefits are foreseen for the Turkish Cypriot community too, which it can benefit from after a strategic agreement has been reached on the Cyprus problem on the basis of the Guterres Framework.
In putting forward this proposal, which is all the more relevant today because of the war in Ukraine, which has provoked a major energy crisis, we cannot know for sure whether Turkey will respond. But if we do not promote this proposal, we will never know. On the contrary, if we do so, we will soon find out Turkey’s real intentions, which will be tested as it will face the need to take decisions.
AKEL was, is and always remains ready to devote all its forces to the solution of the Cyprus problem.
We are and remain always ready to make our own creative contribution to this effort, as long as it is a sincere and consistent effort that creates prospects.
AKEL will continue to struggle for the solution.
It will continue to nurture and cultivate consciences in favour of the solution.
It will continue to develop its policy of rapprochement with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, because a common effort and common struggle strengthens the prospect of a solution.
We say it and we believe it: Cyprus will be saved provided that it manages to free itself from the Turkish occupation and the partitionist barbed wires of division. It will liberate itself only if our country and people are reunited. Only if Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots build their common future together in their common home.
For this vision to become a reality, all of us who love peace insist, unite, and move forward. With the heroic figures of Kavazoglou and Misiaouli at the forefront, we continue our struggle with our voice rallying the call everywhere:
Cyprus! One homeland! One people!
Our people will win!
Long live our Cyprus!