Interview with the General Secretary of AKEL S.Stefanou:
● It’s extremely important for the Left to emerge stronger on 9 June
● We want MEP’s who will assert for Cyprus and Europe
● Our goal is to re-elect 2 MEP’s and increase our electoral strength in relation to the 2021 parliamentary elections
● Its important that people with a vision and program for local government are elected
Sunday 2 June 2024, “Haravgi” newspaper
QUESTION: Next Sunday’s multiple elections have assumed a varied character. What is the significance of these elections for AKEL?
SS: It is extremely important for the Left to come out of the 9 June elections stronger and to send to the European Parliament people who will be asserting for Cyprus and Europe, for society, for workers, for the small and medium-sized enterprises, for the young generation. It is equally important that people with a vision and a programme for the benefit of local society, with innovative ideas and practices in important areas such as social policy or housing policies, are elected to Local Authorities as well.
AKEL-Left-Social Alliance is submitting positions and proposals to society on both European and Local Government issues and is campaigning for people’s support so that it can continue to defend workers, the Cypriot people and Cyprus in a stronger position.
Furthermore, the country needs a strong and serious opposition that can stand up to the Christodoulides government, which is a government that is floundering and cannot provide solutions to the country’s problems.
QUESTION: What are the party’s objectives with regard to the European elections?
SS: Our goal is to retain two MEP’s {out of the six the Republic of Cyprus has], which also means an increase in AKEL’s electoral strength compared to the 2021 parliamentary elections. We are optimistic that we will achieve our goal and this optimism is not wishful thinking. It derives from the messages we receive in our daily contacts with the people. In the remaining days we shall continue to work hard with optimism and confidence that yes, we can make a difference.
QUESTION: Across Europe, one of the issues at stake is the rise of the far right, a phenomenon that is also being observed in Cyprus. How can this rise be halted?
SS: The rise of the far-right is indeed a phenomenon observed in Europe and is explained by the questioning of the traditional political system, which has been reinforced after the successive economic and social crises of recent years, but also by the tolerance and often support given by the Right to the far-right. This is because it sees it as a pillar of support and as a reserve against the forces of the Left and its attempts to impose anti-social policies.
For example, whose votes in Cyprus were used by the Right to pass its anti-social budgets?
With whose votes did DISY vote for the closure of the Cyprus Co-operative Bank?
Who voted for the candidacy of the President of DISY in the elections for the presidency of Parliament?
Who elected Mr Anastasiades and Mr Christodoulides?
It was the far-right ELAM.
We can confront the far right by isolating it politically. As long as there are forces that turn a blind eye to it, tolerate it or cooperate with it, this will not happen. AKEL is on the opposing pole combatting it.
We have never entered into the logic of engaging in deals with the extreme right. We are and will remain opposed to the far right and fascism, seeking to rally forces within the framework of the formation of a broad social alliance, promoting a strong opposition to them.
QUESTION: DISY accuses AKEL, putting it on the same level as ELAM, accusing it of being a Eurosceptic party. What is the Europe AKEL wants?
SS: The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who has the full backing of the DISY leadership for the Presidency of the Commission, never misses an opportunity to stress that she is ready to cooperate with the far right if she is voted in for re-election. So which forces are those who are on the same line to ensure that the forces of conservatism will prevail in the European Union? It is the Right and the far right.
DISY has now picked a fight with the far-right ELAM party over the right-wing electorate because it detects defections from DISY to the far right. The identification of DISY and ELAM on numerous occasions made the boundaries between them so blurred/undistinguishable that it became very easy for leading DISY cadres/officials to switch from DISY to ELAM overnight. The fight today is about votes, not about any political positions.
Furthermore, given that DISY has difficulty in highlighting political differences with ELAM, it resorts to anti-AKEL hysteria and untruthful narratives propagating the “two extremes” theory.
As for AKEL’s supposed “Euroscepticism”, it would be good if DISY were to explain what it actually means?
Is it Euroscepticism to have an opposing view, to
engage in criticism?
When, for example, the President of DISY criticises the EU for implementing double standards on the issue of imposing sanctions on Turkey, this isn’t considered as Euroscepticism, but if AKEL does that, is it Euroscepticism?
Or do they just want us to blindly accept and applaud whatever decisions are taken in Brussels?
For us, Cyprus’ participation in the EU is non-negotiable.
At the same time, however, we have a specific view of what kind of Europe we want.
We want a Europe that is socially just, democratic, peaceful and ecological. We want people who assert and don’t just applaud whatever decisions are taken by the EU. We want people who will fight for Cyprus and Europe, for workers’ rights, for education, health, social security, housing, rights, dignity and the future of young people.
QUESTION: You are accused of being in favour of open borders on immigration…
SS: We have challenged countless OF times those who claim that AKEL is in favour of open borders to tell us where they found this written or said? Nowhere has AKEL ever taken a position in favour of open borders.
For years, AKEL has been putting forward two main positions on the handling of migratory and refugee flows. Firstly, the assertion for Cyprus to be exempted from the Dublin Regulation, which traps refugees and migrants in the first country of arrival.
This is because Cyprus is a small, island and semi-occupied country with limited resources.
Secondly, we called on the President of the Republic and the political forces to formally and urgently call for the distribution of refugees from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine to all EU member states, as was done in the case of the refugees from Ukraine.
These are just two of the positions we have formulated on migration.
We have elaborated and put forth a comprehensive policy covering all aspects of the issue within the framework of international and European law, international and European treaties/conventions.
So those making these claims should put put one’s money where one’s mouth is, if they want it and if they dare to. But here in Cyprus since they haven’t dared proceed to appoint a Deputy Minister for Immigration, so as not to annoy certain forces and circles, why should we expect from them that they will dare to assert in Europe?
QUESTION: In addition to everything else, price increases and expensiveness are a burning issue for the people. People understand that the government’s measures are not effective. What does AKEL propose?
SS: AKEL has put forward very specific and costed proposals to confront the issue of price increases and expensiveness. We have recently proceeded to submit a bill proposal on the taxation of windfall profits of the banks for 2024 and 2025. We propose to use the resulting revenues, which we estimate at approximately €50 million per year, to subsidise the interest rate on mortgages for low and middle income earners.
We have also tabled proposals that provide real support to society on the issue of poverty, such as the reintroduction of fuel subsidies, the reduction of VAT on electricity, etc. And given that the government’s response is as usual limited to repeating the monotonous narrative “where will the money come from?” let me say that they know the answer. Because of the price increases, the state has increased its revenue by millions of euros.
The banks and energy companies, which in other European countries have already been taxed, are recording increased profits. These revenues and the surpluses that have been taken from the pockets of consumers must therefore be returned to them through the formulation and implementation of specific policies that support society and the real economy.

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