Dinos Agiomamitis speech at the conference "The Left and the Cyprus Issue 2019"
Many supporters of a solution to the Cyprus problem through a negotiated and agreed settlement believed that Anastasiadis who led the Yes platform in the 2004 referendum would be the one to succeed. Especially after the election of Akıncı who was also a staunch supporter of this perspective.
Unfortunately, these expectations turned to dust most tragically after the collapse of the talks at Crans-Montana and what followed. Disappointment and despair dominate the last two years. We see people literally lamenting and repeating in despair, ‘nothing is done’, ‘everything is finished’, ‘the division has become permament’ and the like.
Many wonder why Anastasiadis switched his views like this and try to give some explanation by attributing it either to alcohol (it is known that he was drunk at some meetings) or to personal interests and those close to him or to Russian oligarchs he serves through his office and such like. All of this may be true, but they are not enough to explain his attitude. Anastasiadis does not rule alone, he represents an elite, the Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie, in fact its most powereful section.
So what's going on? The first thing to say is that Anastasiadis' Yes for the Annan plan in 2004 has nothing to do with either a peaceful disposition or any desire for rapprochement with the Turkish Cypriots. It was a insincere Yes to a plan that initially gave back to the Greek Cypriots many of the loses they suffered in the '74 war while at the same time leaving plenty of room for them to use their economic and political supremacy to regain domination over the Turkish Cypriots.
Not to partnership
The Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie, in its entirety, whether for or against a solution, ready to compromise or not, despite any tactical disagreements they may have, never accepted the possibility of ever sharing political power or the island’s resources with the Turkish Cypriots. Every deal they made was seen as an intermediate step towards their ultimate goal that of Enosis (union with Greece). When this was no longer possible, their aim changed to establishing their domination on the island while marginalising and at a later stage eliminating their Turkish Cypriot opponents.
This policy the Greek Cypriot elite followed consistently. The existence of similar policies on the other side, that of the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot elite does not negate the fact that the Greek Cypriot side was the first to formulate such aims. The role of the Turkish and the Turkish Cypriot elites has already been analysed in previous speaches by our Turkish Cypriot comrades and I thank them for that. I will confine myself in exposing our elite.
The first to adopt this doctrine was Makarios who never accepted to share power in partnership with the Turkish Cypriots as specified by the Zurich agreement which he signed. For Makarios, the Zurich agreements were but an intermediate stage in order to gain self-determination. But let us hear him in his own words in a letter he wrote to George Papandreou, then Prime Minister of Greece, on March 1, 1964: “Our aim Mr President is the elimination of the Zurich and London agreements so that the Greek people of Cyprus without any restrains and in agreement with the Motherland will determine their future. I am the signatory of these agreements ... but not for a moment believed these agreements to be the basis of a permanent regime."
Likewise, Makarios’ associates in articles they wrote in the summer of '63 said that: “no one accepts the Zurich Agreement as an end… And Cyprus must now move from Zurich to self-determination”.
Following this policy, Makarios refused to apply the provision of the Constitution for separate Municipalities, the provision for a 70% - 30% share in public service and provisions on taxation. Eventually he attempted to amend the Constitution with the 13 points he proposed in his autumn ' 63. When the Turkish Cypriots refused, conflicts broke out.
Through the developments of '63 - '64, Makarios and the Greek Cypriot elite managed to gain control of the state and isolated Turkish Cypriots in only 4.8% of the territory. They were so arrogant and intransigent that, when the Turkish Cypriots accepted almost all 13 points in the talks in '72, they themselves refused this time, as Glafkos Clerides admits in his "Testimony".
After the defeat of '74 the Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie adopt what they termed a painful compromise and accepted a Bi-zonal, Bi-communal Federation as a form of state entity for the new partnership state to emerge after an agreement is signed. But very soon the Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie begin scheming on how they will use any new agreement as an intermediate stage on the way to re-establishing their domination over the Turkish Cypriots and to turn them from proper partners into poor associates.
Through the use of the cheap labour force of refugees and taking advantage of the destruction of Lebanon, within a short time after the war, the ruling class managed to build what they called an economic miracle. At the same time as the official administrator of the Republic of Cyprus throughout this period the Greek Cypriot ruling class with its international links and alliances is in a position to make these plans.
Christophis Economides, a member of DISY and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry in September 1978, expresses these plans in characteristic manner when he suggests: "Before it’s too late we must shift the Greek-Turkish competition from its military form where the Turks have the advantage ... to the peaceful form, in which without doubt we have economic superiority."
Economides continues to argue that such "painful" policies and constitutional concessions are needed in order to reach an agreement. He points out that these concessions, necessitate that: "The conditions of social life and progress are set aside as well as constitutional welfare that stands in the way of progress, as long as this is done gradually, peacefully and silently. Let us not be in a hurry to remove from any agreement that which in practice leads to stagnation. Cyprus as an independent state, irrespective of the degree of local autonomy for the Turkish Cypriots, will in practice be governed politically and financially by the Greeks. "
I do not think anyone could better describe how the Greek Cypriot economic elite views the Bi-zonal, Bi-communal Federation. This is in essence what some later called the "Clerides School". It’s a real politic approach adapted to the new conditions and what is possible. It has nothing to do with either peace or rapprochement with the Turkish Cypriots. On the contrary, it hides a post-war policy aimed at the domination of the Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie, as with Zurich but this time without haste and dangerous acrobatics - they have learned their lesson from the previous mistakes.
Of course, this presupposes that the Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie has a clear financial superiority over the Turkish Cypriots. Until 2004 this was a given. The economic miracle has brought enormous growth and wealth, especially for big capitalists who expanded into exports to Arab countries. On the contrary, the situation in the north between 1974 and 2004 saw few changes in the economy, despite occupying and controlling a large part of the wealth-producing sector and tourist areas. The embargo and blockade had worked quite effectively until that time.
Additionally, the international recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, which was essentially a Greek Cypriot state, gave the Greek Cypriot ruling class a clear advantage over the TRNC, which had virtually no international status.
Of course, such thoughts and plans dominated only among large Greek Cypriot capital. In contrast, smaller capitalists and parties like the church, the hoteliers of Paphos and Limassol would be among the losers of such a compromise deal as the Bi-zonal, Bi-communal Federation. This is the basis of the conflict between the rejectionists and the compromisers. (There is a comprehensive analysis of this issue in the journal of the Workers Democracy ‘Internationalist Challenge’ Issue 1 August ΄88)
It goes without saying, the Annan plan was rejected not only by the nationalists and rejectionists Greek Cypriots but also by many who felt the plan allowed the danger of the ’63 events to be repeated since there were a lot of ambiguities and contained the same political principals. I will not delve further into this subject due to time and space constrains. (For the 2004 referendum we have published a special brochure in Greek and Turkish.)
None of this is true and applies today. The economic miracle has not only been extinguished but the crisis of 2013 and subsequent memorandums have led the economy to the brink of disaster and have thrown thousands of people into poverty. On the contrary, the Turkish Cypriots' YES in the referendum opened the prospects for economic development and improved international political relations for the TRNC. The economic and political superiority praised by Chr. Economides was almost extinguished despite the problems facing the Turkish pound.
Another factor has come to complicate things, the discovery of hydrocarbons. We do not know how big the deposits are, how easy to exploit etc. but it is certain that Anastasiadis has no appetite to share them with the Turkish Cypriots. He prefers to give them their own state or better still maintain the current status quo even if it means letting them have their own EEZ in the North. This much he stated publicly.
This is the essence of Anastasiadis's current policy. This is not a turning point. On the contrary, it’s a policy that is a continuation of what the G/C bourgeoisie in Cyprus pursued for the last 60 years. It holds the start of the blue thread of nationalism that was first unleashed by Makarios and carries it on. That is why it’s pointless to appeal to Anastasiadis to be bold and the like. This is why the various international organisations dealing with the Cyprus issue are not able to overcome the problem. The international ‘players’ serve above all their own interests and designs that are often dripping with the blood of innocent victims. As for the alliances established by Anastasiades and Mitsotakis, these are built with the butchers of the region, Netanyahu and Al Sisi and will only bring more tension and destruction.
Here, I must diverge and say that some sections of the bourgeoisie and the ruling party remain loyal to the position of the Clerides School and wish to pursue a compromise rather than a final separation, but it is doubtful whether they will be able to influence Anastasiades policies. AKEL, which controls an important part of the economy and unites the most organized and class-conscious part of the working class, is also moving in this direction. Its contacts with the Turkish Cypriots lead it to conclude that it can compete well and perhaps benefit politically from reunification. The election of Niyazi Kizilyurek to the European Parliament is a good example of what to expect. Much can be said about these issues but perhaps at a different forum.
The movement for rapprochement and the road to peace
What we need foremost is to clarify our ideas on these issues and build an alternative political pole. A bi-communal movement based on the left and trade unions fighting for genuine rapprochement, solidarity and cooperation of ordinary people on both sides of Cyprus and surrounding countries. Let us also grasp and continue the red thread that connects us with the great struggles of the working class of '48.
We have a great deal that unites us.
Restoring historical truth
Our opposition to nationalism, the revival of far-right and fascism.
Our opposition to the exploitation of hydrocarbons which threaten not only the environment but also peace in the region. We have to fight together to ensure they stay permanately at the bottom of the sea.
The desire of many people on both sides for reunification on the basis of political equality, mutual respect and cooperation.
This is the bi-communal movement that we need to set up today. We have done a lot together in recent years. Many of these were mentioned in the previous speech of Pambis Kyritsis and Hassan Felek. (Presidents PEO and DEV IS). I believe we can take it a step further and achieve it. We owe it to the thousands of victims on both sides who have shed their blood for this land.