Contribution to the 2nd Workers’ Euro-Mediterranean Conference
by Kostas Apostolopoulos
40 years after the war that divided Cyprus in two and filled the country with sorrow and thousands of people from both main communities went missing -but also 100 years after the break of WWI- both the Cypriot people and humanity as a whole, are now confronting great historic challenges.
On the one hand, global capitalist crisis, along with the new erupting problems, stirs up and persistently asks for answers to all the unsolved historical issues – and Cyprus has many.
On the other hand, it is harder to describe in words the devastating changes in the Republic of Cyprus and in the life of Greek-Cypriots in the past period.
Cyprus’ bankruptcy and bail-in, in March of 2013, have suddenly changed whatever somebody may have known about Cyprus. Currently, the Greek-Cypriot people, under the asphyxiating bonds of the Memorandum and the Troika of the EU, ECB and IMF, is forced to reconsider all the terms of its existence, in a much more rapid way than in Greece or in other countries.
In the decades that followed the war of 1974, a massive influx of capitals through tourism and constructions -but mostly through an overgrown banking system and money laundry services, for capitals coming from any kind of financial activities- ensured that the Republic of Cyprus would have a relative financial stability, and the Greek-Cypriot working class and people would have a high living standard.
The banking collapse was a “sudden death” to all that: the attempt to retain Cypriot banks and economy, avoiding an international domino that would lead into chaos, finally led to the solution of bail-in. That was one step beyond the usual Eurozone tactics, in order to cover up the “black holes” in the debt crisis by stealing the money off of workers’ salaries, pensioners, social services and tax-payers. Now, those who were demanded to pay the cost of saving the banks were the bondholders and the depositors, confiscating them any deposit over 100.000 Euros. In social terms, we could say that in a single night, a massive destruction of the wealthy petit-bourgeois class and other middle layers took place. At the same time, all the important capitalists and bourgeois politicians were informed in advance in order to withdraw their money from the banks.
But the same has happened in all the countries a Memorandum has been implemented; it is always the working class and the poorest layers that pay a huge price: unemployment rates are reaching up to a 19.5%, salaries and pensions have been reduced by a 20% in just one year, the tax-robbery has grown, and the -formerly good- beneficial policies of the social state, have been eliminated.
New -and until recently unknown- words, are being added in the contemporary dictionary of the Cypriot dialect such as homeless, beggars, impoverished. Whole families of poor and homeless people, mostly immigrants from Eastern Europe, but also locals, gather now in the parks and streets of Cyprus’ cities.
The Troika now, demands from the Greek-Cypriots to go into big privatizations, selling their most strategic and profitable public enterprises and resources: electric power, telecommunications, and ports. This of course doesn’t come without any reaction.
This, in general terms, is the economic ground on which the Cyprus’ issue, which has been unsolved for 40 years now, is being stirred up. The Communiqué of Anastassiadis and Eroğlu, bearing quite a few similarities with Annan plan of 2004, it is however written under the strict oversight and guidance of the EU and the USA mainly, namely by Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for the European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department, and who also handles the Ukrainian issue.
The Communiqué talks of a “unified Cyprus”, although it will be consisted of two separate states, with their own legislations and institutions. Abroad, there will be a single Cypriot citizenship but internally, each person will be a citizen of only one of the two states.
What is described above, is a quite original, but also a very clear plan of an internal and final partition of the island. Of course, such a proposal could not exist without presupposing the remaining of all Three Guarantees (Greece, Turkey and Great Britain) and their military forces on the island, but also -we dare to assume- the upgrading of NATO’s role in the territory.
Why now, and why in such a hurry, comes yet a new proposal of partition like this one? Because now, capitalism and the big imperialist powers are in an advanced decline, and an expression of this decline is their agony to get over with all their “open wounds”: alongside the aggressive political tactics against Russia -the interference in Ukraine and the collaboration with the fascists to overthrow the Yanukovych government- a plan of financial and political encirclement and isolation of Russia is also needed, for the independence of European countries from the Russian gas, without which, no European industry can function, no European household can be heated.
Cyprus, because of its geographic location, can play an initial role in the operation of providing Europe with Israeli gas, through Turkey. A deal like that could also restore the wounded Turkish-Israeli relations, which are crucial for Imperialism’s coming up against the flaming situation in the Middle-East in the next period. Last but not least, a proper economic and political establishment is necessary for the exploitation of the hydrocarbons Cyprus has, being already in negotiations with Western and Israeli interests. For all of the above, no reactions and no other interfering factors can be tolerated. An already bankrupt and weak country like Cyprus, must be transformed into a full protectorate of Imperialism.
Nothing good can come out of that. Hence, we have to be clear:
Both Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots must reject the Imperialist plans not from a nationalist, but from an internationalist and anti-imperialist standpoint. We have to prevent the final division of the island and the conclusion of whatever 1974 left behind!
Other than that, Imperialism is obligated to implement its plans on an unstable and explosive social and political ground.
Greece is already bankrupt and the Samaras/Venizelos government cannot be trusted, as it is well-known that SYRIZA probably will be the winner party in the forthcoming Euro-elections, and will also be in the next government whenever the national elections take place.
Turkey is under bankruptcy and the Erdoğan government is in its most fierce political crisis, in a huge conflict with Fethullah Gülen and in the void of corruption scandals, which are all results of the Gezi Park revolt; a revolt which is now reheated, after the death of 15-year old Berkin Elvan.
Eurozone as a whole is under collapse, and the EU is drowning in depression and unemployment. At the same time, the Arab Revolution can’t and won’t be defeated as long as capitalism cannot offer a stable and sustainable alternative for these regions or the rest of the planet. The small island of Cyprus combines the crisis in Europe and the crisis in the Middle-East, too.
In the occupied parts of Cyprus, the working class has reacted to austerity and poverty in the past few years, went into general strikes that shook the whole island, and also, organized demonstrations against the paternalism of the Turkish state.
The Republic of Cyprus is bankrupt, and because of that it is experiencing a rebirth of workers’ and peoples’ mobilizations. From the clashes outside the parliament back in the days of the bankruptcy, until recently, when the workers of the public companies which are under privatization, tried to invade the parliament and clashed with the police on February 27.
Anastassiadis’ government was already stigmatized by its involvement in the bail-in decision, but after the Communiqué it suffers yet a new crisis, with the loss of her ally party of DIKO (which stands for “Democratic Party”), who has left the government. The governmental crisis was clearly reflected in the failure to gain the support of the parliament on the privatizations’ bill in the first place, so as for a second, renewed version and background consultations to be needed.
But, we must not forget the danger of nationalism and the fascist demagoguery that can gain ground, while the pro-EU Anastassiadis government is collapsing. Nationalist and chauvinist tendencies were always present in the Cypriot society because of the unsolved national issues, and have been a common ground between almost all the bourgeois parties, including DIKO and the social democrats of EDEK, taking advantage of the lack of a consistent left-wing internationalist proposal.
Left-wing party AKEL, degraded by the Christofias government and its total integration into the capitalist system, today again like in 2004, facing the Communiqué, staggers around between the approval of the Imperialist plans and the pressures of its popular base.
What is not to be forgotten is the appearance in the country’s political scene of the Cypriot Golden Dawn, ELAM, but also of other groups of traditional Nazis, present for the first time in Cyprus, which are currently spewing their anti-Turkish and anticommunist hatred on any given chance, restoring the long-gone and forgotten slogan “EOKA B’, strike again”.
On the contrary, a new generation of the working class, goes out on the frontline. Youth groups, collectives of the anarchist or the left-wing movement breaking away from the Euro-Stalinist AKEL, often under the influence of the Greek movement especially after December 2008, are leaving their mark to all the social and political struggles. Opposing the consequences of the crisis with solidarity and self-organization. Defending the neighborhoods from the fascists of ELAM, blocking them and clashing with them whenever they try to show up in the streets. Participating in all workers’ struggle and strikes of the past few years, giving them a more radical content.
As in the whole planet, same in Cyprus, no answer can be given to any issue, national in form, but only in the arena of class struggle and world revolution. The struggle against Imperialism can only be a struggle against capitalism, against the bourgeoisie of all nations and their states. Whoever declares the opposite, is trying to trap the people of Cyprus, wants to see once more the Turkish and Greek population of Cyprus in the role of Cain and Abel, wants to lead us to a war and an ultimate division of the island. There can be no compromise with any kind of nationalism, from any side!
What Cyprus needs, is the unification of the struggles of the Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot working class. Their development into a whole new class, internationalist, revolutionary level!
What we need is the common struggle of all workers, for the re-unification of the island on Socialist bases.
To abolish the Memorandum and erase all public and private debts to the loan sharks!
To nationalize the parasitic banking system, without any compensation to the bankers, and to create a unified, public, banking organization!
To nationalize all the strategic sectors of economy, without any compensation, and under workers’ control and workers’ management, including all the natural wealth of Cyprus’ ground and underground!
None of the above can ever happen unless we fight:
–To drown in the sea all armies and military bases – Greek, Turkish, or British!
–To overthrow both bourgeois governments – Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot!
–To smash both states – the Republic of Cyprus and also the Turkish-Cypriot state apparatus!
–To build a United, Independent and Socialist Cyprus, in the perspective of the United Socialist States of Europe, of a Red Mediterranean and Middle-East!
Long live the Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot brotherhood!
Long live the world revolution!
Long live the Fourth International!