From Socialist Voice, December 2005

Cypriot communists celebrate eighty years of struggle

The recent twentieth congress of AKEL (Progressive Party of the Working People) demonstrated the strength and vitality of the communist movement in Cyprus. No less than 1,336 delegates—each representing at least ten members—attended at the Cyprus Conference Centre in Nicosia, along with 69 representatives of 54 parties from 39 countries. All fraternal delegates were warmly welcomed, but the Cuban representative was given a standing ovation. The Communist Party of Ireland was represented by a member of the National Executive Committee.
    The opening session was addressed by the president of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos (who is both head of state and head of government), in the presence of invited guests from every area of Cypriot life, including trade unions, agriculture, education, the arts, and the church. Turkish Cypriots who crossed the “barricade” to attend were given rapturous applause.
    The general secretary of AKEL, Demetris Chrisofias, who is also the president of the House of Representatives, described the present international situation as one of “uncontrollable lawlessness,” characterised by “the immunity of the sole superpower and the unrestrained surge of capital.” He went on to say:
    ”A primitive form of capitalism is rearing its head which is waging an all-round general attack against the people of labour. It is threatening and to a large degree succeeding in taking away gains and rights that were achieved in many years full of struggle and sacrifices. Neo-liberalism is capitalism in modern times, which feels that it is taking its revenge on socialism but also on the whole of the workers’ movement. In the name of the free market, competitiveness and of course greedy profit they are seeking to turn the clock back, back to the time when working people were defenceless easy prey for capital. All these terrible backward steps are described as ‘modernisation’!
    ”The European Union also has a role to play in the world of the new world order and neo-liberalism. The European Union remains an advanced form of capitalist political-economic integration, in which big European capital is dominant. It would be an illusion for anyone to expect that the strengthening of the EU, bearing in mind its present balance of forces, will lead to the creation of an opposing force to the American superpower which would defend the principles and the rights of people.”
    The Communist Party of Cyprus was founded in 1926 but was banned by the British colonial administration in 1931. Forty Cypriot volunteers fought against Franco in the Spanish anti-fascist war and many more later against Hitler and Mussolini. AKEL, founded in 1941, subsumed the underground Communist Party and in the late 1940s was the prime force in ensuring that the new Greek fascism—then engaged in genocidal war against the left in Greece—failed to set any substantial roots in Cyprus. Like its predecessor, AKEL was banned in 1955 during the anti-colonial struggle, in which it was in the front line of the democratic resistance. It stood resolutely against communal violence and chauvinism in the dark days of 1963–64. When the Athens junta, with the support of the CIA, sponsored a coup d’état and an attempt to assassinate President Makarios it was AKEL that rallied the democratic forces to restore the elected government.
    Today it is the largest party in Cyprus and works in government with the Socialist and Democratic Parties. AKEL is in the forefront of opposition to the occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by Turkey, and its policy of a sovereign bi-zonal bi-communal republic evacuated by all foreign troops has been widely recognised as the best basis for a settlement.
    A number of current issues were discussed at a forum of foreign delegates that preceded the congress. The CPI representative raised the issue of workers from eastern and western Europe being pitted against each other following the latest accession of states to the European Union. He also addressed a branch of AKEL in Limassol, where local members were most interested to hear of the developments in the Irish Ferries offensive against workers and of the latest situation regarding the peace process.
[MMA]

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