Speech by the General Secretary of AKEL, Stefanos Stefanou, at the Presentation of AKEL Left – Social Alliance candidates for the 2024 European elections Dear friends,
I welcome all of you here today to the presentation of the candidates of AKEL Left Social Alliance. Permit me to address a special welcome, a heartfelt greeting, to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots who are with us here to send the message that we will wage this battle too together – for our common homeland, for the common vision of reunification and peace in our homeland.
Dear friends,
The European elections this June are taking place at a time when Europe is being shaken by contradictions and conflicts, but also by mass popular mobilisations. Farmers from all over Europe – including Cyprus – are protesting against the EU’s policies which, among other things, have led to the loss of one third of the continent’s agricultural units within the space of 20 years.
In Finland and Sweden, workers are going on strike to protect collective agreements and trade union rights.
In Greece, students have taken to the streets to defend public education.
In France, women are protesting against the dramatic increase in femicides and the inaction of the authorities.
In Germany, in recent weeks, the country’s major cities have been shaken by huge demonstrations against the far right.
All this confirms that the peoples and societies of Europe are confronted with different, but also common problems. Problems that are rooted in both the character AND the policies being implemented by the European Union today. At the same time, however, this confirms the relevance of our own vision and proposal, of the different Europe we are seeking and asserting.
We want and are fighting for the Europe of social justice and modern social rights for working people, the young generation, small and medium-sized businesses. That’s to say all the people earning their living through their work and efforts.
But this isn’t the Europe we see today. Today, 95 million Europeans live at risk of poverty, while at the same time, the five richest people in the EU have been increasing their wealth at a rate of EUR 6 million per hour for two years.
Furthermore, the banks across the EU – and in Cyprus too of course – are recording all-time record profits, which they are literally stealing from the economy and society with the blessing of the European Central Bank.
Yet, the European Union insists on implementing the same policies that increase inequalities between and within EU states, at a time when price hikes are curbing the living standards of people across the continent. They are even preparing to bring back policies imposing brutal austerity and draconian controls over governments, despite the fact that they know full well what these policies have led to over the past decade. Unfortunately, this has recently been decided as a result of the revision of the Economic Governance Framework, with the agreement of both the Right and social democracy.
For us, however, there has always been and always will be another path. For us, social Europe means a fundamentally just Europe.
A Europe that serves the people of labour and generates growth for all, with respect for the environment. This is our vision for the future of our continent.
A vision that we link with our struggles today for people’s needs in life, work, social insurance, education and health. Everything that Cypriot, Spanish, Irish, German, Bulgarian and all European working people are entitled to and deserve.
We are fighting for dignified wages and pensions, stable and full-time jobs and the extension of collective agreements. For public investments that will ensure dignified housing for all. For modern social policies and infrastructures for working parents. For cheap electricity and energy affordable for every household, as well as the implementation of drastic measures to curb poverty.
They should stop asking us where the money for all these policies will be found because the government ruling forces here in Cyprus and across the EU know that there are solutions. What is indeed lacking is the political will. The will, for example, to tax here and now – as AKEL is demanding every day – the exorbitant profits recorded by the banks and energy companies and to use these revenues to finance the implementation of major social programmes to serve the societies of Europe and their needs.
This all outlines what AKEL’s priorities have been on a daily basis in the European Parliament for the last 20 years. For example, while others vote to allocate billions of euros for the development of military technology, AKEL, on the other hand, proposed – and succeeded in getting approved – funding for an all-European research into paediatric cancer.
Other forces vote against everything we propose that has to do with labour rights. AKEL succeeded in getting the European Parliament to adopt the position that young workers working on traineeships across EU member states must be paid a dignified wage/salary and not to work unpaid.
We want a Europe of peace. Peace is not about adding fuel to the fire of war in Ukraine, as the European Union is doing by channeling tens of billions of euros in arms to the Zelensky government.
Is this the way to put an end to the war and the Russian invasion – as we are calling for – or is this the way to perpetuate the conflict, with the people of Ukraine and the whole of Europe as the primary victims, to the benefit of the United States?
Just a few days ago in fact, the leaders of the major political groups in the European Parliament – the Right, to which DISY belongs, the Conservatives, to which ELAM wants to join, the Social Democrats, to which DIKO and EDEK belong, the Liberals, to which the DYPA belongs, and the Greens, to which the Ecologists belong to – issued a joint communiqué demanding that the delivery of arms and ammunition to Ukraine be speeded up. Next June, we will vote on whether we want these forces to continue to dominate the European Parliament.
Whereas the EU appears extremely sensitive on Ukraine, the leadership of the EU, with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the forefront, is turning a blind eye and is completely indifferent to the ongoing genocide being committed by the far-right government of Netanyahu against the Palestinian people.
A Europe of peace means a Europe that undertakes political and diplomatic initiatives for a ceasefire and peace, for the respect of international law, for solidarity.
A Europe of peace means freeing our continent from NATO. It would mean that the billions of euros currently being channeled into the war arms industries must be spent on serving the needs of Europe’s societies.
This is precisely what a vote for AKEL and the Left will mean in June.
We want a Europe of democracy. And democracy isn’t about a European Central Bank that isn’t accountable to anyone, taking decisions behind closed doors.
Democracy isn’t depriving the European Parliament, the only directly elected body of the Union and the only body directly elected by citizens, of the right to initiate and promote legislation.
It isn’t the armies of lobbyists who write European regulations and Directives to serve the interests of multinational conglomerates and large industries.
Democracy isn’t the networks of spying software and surveillance networks that are in the hands of EU states and governments.
Moreover, democracy is not about the government of Germany or even 3-4 governments taking decisions that affect the whole of the European Union and everyone else is forced to align themselves with these decisions.
It is precisely for this reason that we strongly oppose the abolition of the veto that protects smaller states such as Cyprus.
And it democracy certainly isn’t compromising with the takeover of Europe by the forces of the far right and fascism in the name of opinion polls and election results. After all, the Nazis came to power through elections.
However, anyone who has opened even one history book knows what the day after will be like if the forces of hatred and racism prevail. Today immigrants and refugees are being blamed, tomorrow it will be the people of the Left, the day after that it will be women, LGBTI people, people with disabilities, and one day they will all be targeted and the whole of Europe will be in darkness.
Our country, Cyprus, in particular, which is still suffering the consequences for these ideological concepts, isn’t entitled to forget. However, over the past few years, only AKEL has refused to ‘normalise’ the extreme right and confronted its inhumane rhetoric.
Of course, one might justifiably ask how the rest of the parties can oppose the extreme right, given the fact that the far-right ELAM party elected Anastasiades, Christodoulides and Anita Demetriou to their posts, confirming that, in practice, ELAM acts as the reserve force of DISY. Now, ahead of the elections, some people may wake up to this fact. But then again, what they have not yet understood is that the problem with the far right is not that it is “stealing votes” from their own parties. The problem is that it poisons society with hatred, with lies, with darkness.
This is precisely why AKEL calls on every democratic citizen of Cyprus to join this big social alliance that we are forging on the basis of our faith in democracy and progress, in the values of solidarity and humanism, in the unity of working people regardless of nationality, religion and language, in ecology, in respect for diversity and multiculturalism.
Dear friends,
This is what AKEL and the entire Left in Europe and especially the Left Group in the European Parliament are fighting and working for.
We will wage the battle of the European elections for all these issues and our six candidates will be at the forefront of this struggle. A strong team that represents in this battle the values, principles, priorities and sensitivities of the Left and the progressive people as a whole.
The AKEL Left Social Alliance electoral list is for that reason writing history, paving the way and looking to the future.
● Because it is a strong electoral list, with people who are capable, honest and ready to be a force of assertion for our country and people. A force of assertion IN Europe, and FOR the Europe we want.
● Because our candidates, with three women and three men, breaks down invisible barriers and makes gender equality not just a mere slogan and a vision, but a policy applied in practice.
● Because our electoral list is the choice for all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, for all the people fighting for reunification and the solution of the Cyprus problem. For all of us who will never compromise with the de facto partition and occupation of our homeland. Our candidates and MEPs tomorrow are part of the Left Group which is Cyprus’ most consistent ally inside the European Parliament.
● Because, finally, our electoral list gives a practical meaning to the great alliance of the progressive forces in Cyprus that we are building with forces and people who do not come from AKEL, but are rallying their forces with AKEL and the Left in this struggle, in this great effort that we have begun to unite forces. To march together, to become together the great force, the great social alliance that will change things in Cyprus. A great social alliance that is a force of assertion that will send messages to the government of Nicos Christodoulides, which continues unabated the policies of Anastasiades; messages that they have a strong Left opposing them, which is the only effective opposition in the country. That they face a big social majority that insists that Cyprus deserved and deserves better.
Dear friends,
The European, as well as the local elections this June, can become a milestone on the political map of our country, which will pave the way for a reversal of the balance of forces and for greater changes.
Changes that our country and our people need.
That is precisely why we will wage this battle proud of our action, positions and of our people.
We begin this battle united and determined.
With optimism and confidence.
With honesty and clarity.
With consistency and seriousness.
With proposals and positions.
The Left knows how to fight and win battles.
And it will win them.
The 6 candidates of AKEL Left Social Alliance are as follows

George Georgiou, philologist, MEP, 60 years old

Anna Theologou, economist, former MP, 38 years old

Stavri Kalopsidiotou, lawyer-internationalist law expert, Head of the Human Rights Sector of AKEL, 43 years old

Andros Karagiannis, philologist of English and German languages, Mayor of Deryneia, 50 years old

Niyazi Kizilyurek, academic, MEP, 64 years old

Melani Steliou, actress, television producer, presenter, 47 years old

Leave a Reply