Short report on the 21st Congress of AKEL
25–27 November 2010
Report by Lynda Walker, national chairperson, CPI
The Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) held its 21st Congress on 25–27 November 2010. The Communist Party of Ireland was one of sixty-seven foreign parties that attended the congress.
Prior to the congress, which opened on the evening of the 25th, AKEL hosted an international meeting under the title “The struggle of the left and the fight of the peoples for global peace and security against the imperialist order.” All parties were encouraged to contribute to the discussion. Lynda Walker, national chairperson of the CPI, brought greetings of solidarity to the meeting and spoke about the political and economic situation in Ireland, the fight against imperialism, and our commitment to the communist movement globally.
In the congress and at the meeting Ándros Kyprianoú, general secretary of the party, reflected AKEL’s position regarding the increasing militarisation of NATO. In his speeches he said:
“The imposition of the imperialist new order is taking place through the undermining of international law and the imposition of the right of the mighty, double-standard policies and practices, invasions, and aggressive wars. It is being expressed through the attempt to control and replace the UN through the adoption and promotion of dogmas such as the NATO dogma of ‘pre-emptive strike’ and in some cases through certain so-called peacekeeping and ‘humanitarian’ missions. It is being promoted through the growing militarisation of international relations, the escalation of the arms race, the constant attempt to expand spheres of influence, the expansion of the web of US and NATO military bases . . . the cultivation of frictions on an ethnic or religious basis, and the support of corrupt criminal regimes, the imposition of anti-terrorism laws . . .
“They have stopped using the pretext of the ‘communist danger,’ in Europe at least. The pretexts now being projected are terrorism, which their own imperialist policies give rise to and foment, piracy, cyber-attacks, climate change . . . the protection of energy supplies, as well as their pipelines and in general anything else that emerges and consequently the approval of repressive measures.” (The full text can be read on the AKEL web site.)
The congress dealt with a wide range of issues. Some of the internal organisational questions included criticism of party members who do not buy the party paper, the under-representation of women in the party, and the establishment of an “academy” for party education.
Much discussion took place on the role of Dimítris Christófias, president of Cyprus and an AKEL member, and the attacks that are made on him by political opponents and the capitalist media.
The main item politically was the demand to remove Turkey from the northern section of Cyprus. Since the Turkish invasion in 1974, Cyprus has been a partitioned country.
Over recent years, President Christófias has successfully negotiated the opening of the barriers between the Greek and Turkish sectors, enabling people to visit friends and relatives in each area. But, as one comrade said, “we have to show our passport to visit our own country.” This is not the conclusion to this situation, just a beginning.
At the international meeting a thirteen-point “Resolution of the Cyprus Problem” was agreed by the delegates. It calls on the international community as a whole “to exercise its influence on Turkey in order to abandon its current policy towards Cyprus and enable the negotiations to proceed constructively, also taking into consideration the proposal of President Christófiss. It is urgent that Turkey proceeds immediately in taking concrete steps in order to reach a comprehensive solution as soon as possible.”
The final point gave emphases to the conviction that “the two communities can live together as they have done in the past and build a peaceful, common future in a united, bizonal federal Cyprus.”
Cyprus is one of the reasons why Turkey is refused membership of the European Union.
Foreign delegates met President Christófias, and later they were divided into small groups and taken to a range of local clubs of the Popular Movement. The Irish delegation, along with member of the Italian and Indian parties, visited a district in Limassol where they met members of AKEL and the communist mayor. The housing in this area is for refugees from Famagusta who fled from their homes during the Turkish occupation. More than 200,000 Greek Cypriots fled their homes in the North in 1974, which they want to return to. The delegation also visited the “Green Line” area in Nicosia.
AKEL gave a warm welcome to the delegates, and the hospitality and the comradeship were excellent. The congress was interspersed with cultural and political contributions from the youth, veterans, and artists. The 1,400 delegates present represented 15,000 party members.
CyprusBefore independence Britain advocated the partition of Cyprus, with a Turkish Cypriot sector uniting with Turkey. Active opposition to colonial rule came from the Greek Cypriot community, whose majority at the time aspired to union with Greece. These diametrically opposed views were specifically prohibited by the agreement of 1959 that established the independence of Cyprus.
True to form, British rule did not encourage the emergence of a Cypriot national identity. Instead Britain used the “divide and rule” policy as an instrument for controlling anti-colonial sentiments. It enlisted Turkish Cypriots on its side against the Greek Cypriot liberation movement, thereby planting the seeds of intercommunal discord and polarisation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, a development that was to prove detrimental to their co-operation on independence.
AKEL was committed to mass political action during the struggle for independence (as was its predecessor, the Communist Party of Cyprus), as opposed to the military campaign of EOKA. The party was made illegal in 1931 by the British colonial government. AKEL was then formed by underground members of the Communist Party, and in the first municipal elections in 1943 its candidates became the mayors of Limassol and Famagusta. Many members of the CPC and AKEL were killed by right-wing and fascist-independence fighters involved in the military campaign, which AKEL opposed. However, as one AKEL comrade said, “the legacy they left us was not independence and not one but two occupiers.” (Of course the role of the Greek fascists also has to be taken into consideration.)
British army bases still occupy southern Cyprus, while Turkey occupies the North. AKEL is concentrating on one problem at a time. The Greek Cypriot population is about 800,000. Details for the occupied sector are not available, but it is known that many illegal settlers have come from Turkey.
AKEL has eighteen MPs as well as the presidency, and they form part of the government. It also has two members of the European Parliament, and many councillors and mayors in local municipalities. AKEL is bracing itself for the local and national elections in 2011.
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