Speech by the General Secretary of AKEL Stefanos Stefanou at the Heroes’ Memorial service of Panagia village in Paphos
19 May 2024, St. George’s Church, Panagia
We are here to fulfil the minimum duty we have to honour the memory of all the people who sacrificed their lives for our Cyprus. Panagia is a community that paid a heavy price in human lives in the hour of duty for our country and people.
We honour the memory of two heroic martyrs in the liberation struggle of EOKA against British colonialism: Charalambos Mouskos, who is the first martyr of EOKA’s struggle, and Takis Sofokleous, who enlisted in the liberation struggle at the age of 16 and was killed during a battle with the British colonialists at Prodromi.
We honour the memory of Filipou Nathaniel, Stavros Stavrinou, Kostakis Antoniou and Antonis Leonidas, who fell during the bicommunal clashes that broke out at Christmas 1963 and continued in 1964.
We honour the memory of Michalakis Papapavlou who was killed by the coupists defending democracy from treason and fascism on 15 July 1974.
We honour the memory of Giorgos Menelaou who died fighting for the freedom and integrity of Cyprus during the Turkish invasion on 20 July 1974.
We also honour the memory of Antonis Charalambous, who while serving in the National Guard was killed in peacetime in the deadly explosion at Mari in July 2011.
Paying tribute to the heroes of Panagia reflects the chronicle of modern Cypriot history.
It is reflected through our people’s liberation struggle to shake off
British colonialism and, subsequently, through the defence of the newly established Cypriot state from those forces and circles that undermined it because they were obsessed with pursuing the policy of either Enosis [union with Greece] or Taksim [partition].
It is reflected through our people’s support of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III, and the defence of the constitutional order and democracy against the NATO conspiracies and the murderous activities of the Greek junta and EOKA B.
It is reflected through the uprising of the democratic and Makarios forces to fight against the fascist treasonous coup d’état. Here in the district of Paphos, the anti-fascist resistance did not permit the coupists to prevail until it was terminated to avoid further bloodshed.
The chronicle of Cypriot history is also reflected through the resistance to the Turkish invasion in defence of freedom and the preservation of our homeland’s territorial integrity.
Thousands of young men ran to the shores of Kyrenia and ascended the Pentadaktylos mountain range, betrayed and almost unarmed, to fight to save our homeland and breathed their last breath there.
It is a historical fact that the coup d’état of the Greek junta and EOKA B was executed to pave the way for Turkey to invade and implement the NATO plan for double Enosis [Note: the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus through its subsequent division between Greece and Turkey]. This plan was averted because Makarios was eventually rescued thanks to the heroism of the democratic resistance fighters.
The loss of Antonis in the deadly explosion in Mari adds to the chronicle of modern Cypriot history the reminder that we may have achieved progress and prosperity as a people, but at the same time we have accumulated pathologies, distortions, shortcomings and gaps that cause major problems. The explosion in Mari is a reminder that the absolute priority of the State must be to protect the lives and safety first and foremost of those serving the country.
Fellow compatriots,
History is a signpost and a compass to help us chart our course for the future. It is precisely for this reason that when we look back at the past, we must always do so in a manner consistent with the historical truth, to be objective about what happened and evaluate the results yielded in relation to the sought goals.
If we do this, I am sure that we will effortlessly come to the conclusion that in our country’s modern history, apart from the anti-Cypriot conspiracies, the betrayal and the undermining of the Cypriot state from within [by fifth-columnists], there have also been periods of subjectivism and illusions that led to mistaken policies being pursued.
But this luxury – if it ever was a luxury – is no longer available to us.
We do not have it, because fifty years after the twin crimes that were committed against our people in the summer of 1974, the permanent partition of our homeland threatens us. And we must never forget that partition is Turkey’s long-standing objective. If this is achieved, then the sacrifices of our brave men for our homeland, the sacrifices of Mouskou, Sophocleous, Nathaniel, Stavrinou, Antoniou, Leonidas, Papapavlou, Menelaou and Charalambous will be considered futile and will not be justified.
Today we are at the most critical juncture that the Cyprus problem has ever been since 1974. The stagnation noted on the Cyprus problem serves Turkey’s policy to consolidate, with the passage of time, the partitionist status quo and to perpetuate the illegal and dangerous presence of its troops in our occupied territories.
It is imperative that we do not let the situation lead to the fulfilment of the Turkish plans.
We need to come forward with specific proposals that will not violate the security concerns of the Greek Cypriot side and at the same time, create prospects for breaking the deadlock and continuing the negotiations from the point where they were broken in 2017.
I recall that AKEL’s position is that we must always move with consistency to the agreed basis of Bizonal, Bicommunal Federation with political equality and that the resumption of the negotiations must take place on the basis of the Guterres Framework, preserving all the convergences that have been recorded so far.
The stagnation surrounding the Cyprus problem, accompanied by the Turkish side’s shift towards a two state solution, the lack of any results in the initiatives that the President of the Republic has so far declared he is undertaking, create the need to seek other proposals and tools to create a dynamic for a solution.
AKEL reiterates the proposal it has tabled since December 2020 for making use of energy issues in Cyprus and the wider region within the context of a positive agenda for Turkey that the President has declared. We once again call on the President of the Republic to make use of this proposal. Let him belatedly accept to at long last discuss it within the context of the National Council.
The heroes we honour today were all young people, with their whole lives ahead of them. With dreams, with goals, with a desire to live and create. And yet they gave what was most precious to them, their very own lives for the freedom, independence and territorial integrity of our homeland.
Their sacrifice awaits vindication.
It awaits the day when Cyprus will breathe again, free and reunited, a peaceful homeland that will heal the wounds once and for all and send the barbed wire of division to the museums.
A homeland in which Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will live and create together, building their own future, a future of progress, development and prosperity.
We shall continue to struggle for this future!
The memory of our heroes will live on for ever!

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