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Andromachi Sophocleous: “We want a progressive, green and reunited Cyprus”

Hope can only come through action, says the Co-Vice President of the first bicommunal party of Cyprus who is running for European Elections

After a decade of being involved in grassroots movements fighting for peace and social justice for the entire island of Cyprus, Mrs Andromachi Sophocleous is now the Co-Vice President of the new political party “Volt”, and she is also a candidate for the upcoming European Parliament elections.

During an exclusive interview to Voice, she talks about the core principles of the recently founded party, whether she believes that the terms left and right are still relevant nowadays as they used to be in the past, how we can tackle extreme right in both sides of Cyprus and elsewhere in Europe and what’s her view on economy and migration in our region.

What was the tipping point that made you decide that now is the time to get involved into mainstream politics?

For the past ten years I have been involved in various movements on the ground and in the local civil society, working on a united, federal Cyprus, calling for a sustainable country, based on the rule of rule, and one that provides human rights for all. For long, I was not contemplating, in any way, entering mainstream politics. However, I can no longer bear being on the sidelines when the country is going downhill in so many respects. After the racist attacks in Chlorakas and Limassol, I felt that Ι could no longer breath and I had to find a way to influence things more decisively. That was the moment that I understood that there was no other way to try and change things in the country unless I entered mainstream politics.

When was the first time you heard about Volt Europe?

I have been following Volt Europe since a while after their inception, in 2017, as I thought it was an interesting concept.

I am very glad to have found the people who first started working on Volt Cyprus, join them, and be part of the Volt Cyprus founding committee.

Which are the core principles of Volt Cyprus?

Volt is the first bi-communal party to be established in the Republic of Cyprus. We have written in our constitution that we believe in a federation, and we have a Turkish Cypriot as General Secretary of the party. Above all though, we are a party committed to working on peace on the island. We want a progressive, green, and reunited Cyprus, one in which the human rights of all will be granted and respected. We believe in healthy entrepreneurship and innovation and go against state or private monopolies. We envisage a reunited island, home to all its people, one in which its children can see their future, rather than trying to get away. We want a Europe that can defend itself and that safeguards peace in the world. A Europe that transitions decisively towards renewable energy and ensures that necessities are affordable for everyone.

Regarding the Cyprus problem, what’s your vision both as Andromachi and Volt?

Volt is the first bicommunal party in Cyprus and I am proud of the wholehearted desire expressed in our constitution itself that we want a united, federal Cyprus, with political equality. Volt believes that the foundations for this must be set even prior to a political solution and strives for reconciliation, understanding, empathy and recognition of the mistakes of the past.

Ηow can we tackle the rise of extreme-right in both sides in Cyprus but also everywhere in Europe these days?

Tackling the rise of the extreme-right in Europe was the reason why Volt Europa was created. European citizens are being plagued with the increasing cost of life, there are constant changes around, the green transition has its own costs. These objective pressures on the lives of citizens are being used by populist and nationalist politicians to discredit the European Union and spread hatred and fanaticism around. At the same time, sadly, the extreme-right often feeds on the tendency of mainstream right-wing parties to normalise the far-right rhetoric to resist pressure. This is what we want to tackle, this is why Volt is created. We want to offer practical and tangible solutions and policies that help with the citizens’ needs and aim to not leave anyone behind in these constantly changing times.

What’s your stance on the economy? Are you in favor of the neoliberal free economy with no restrictions or do you want state intervention?

We believe that for a long time now, the country’s development model has been one of very short-term investments that only benefit the few, to the detriment of the many. We want to strengthen the Cypriot citizen, and we oppose monopolies, either state or private ones, as we see in Cyprus. Volt envisions a Union that promotes innovation, effective taxation, and sustainable investments with the potential of long-term benefits for the country and its people.

What are the main challenges of the Turkish Cypriot community, according to your view?
Many good people of my community believe that we need to show solidarity with the Turkish Cypriots. For me it is more than that! We cannot be whole if we lose the other half of our people. One of the things that moved me the most is the thought of the thousands of people that came out to the streets in the period 2002-2004 and demanded a united island, member of the European Union. And I know that the Turkish Cypriots feel betrayed, but I also know that what motivated people back then was their clear vision ahead: a united federal Cyprus, member of the European Union. So, we need to recreate that vision, and this is what Volt is going to strive to do and this is my own aspiration for my political endeavors in the mainstream stage.

What’s your views on migration?

Migration and refugee flows call for a holistic and multi-faceted approach. We have a long list of policy suggestions for a humane approach to the issue. Amongst them, we call for pan-European solidarity, and a burden-sharing settlement system following the abolition of the “Dublin principle” which says refugees must apply for asylum in their first EU country of arrival.

At the same time, we stress that Cyprus depends largely on migrant workers for its economic activity, with 40% of its workforce being migrant workers. Demonising migration in general, is detrimental both to Cyprus as an open, multicultural country, but also to the realistic needs of our financial activity. The EU needs to strengthen its legal channels for migration through visa programmes, scholarships, and work permits, while also considering offering temporary work permits to people already working in the country, regardless of their status.

Should you be elected to the European Parliament, what will you prioritize to do?

If I manage to get elected in the European Parliament I would like to request joining the Industry, Research and Energy committee. I believe that this is a key committee, a dynamic and vibrant one and one in which we should opt to have a say. At the same time, my candidacy is one that wants to bring more of Cyprus to Europe and more of Europe to Cyprus, always since our vision for change in the political dynamics in the European Union. I also believe that the future of the Turkish Cypriots lies in greater engagement with the European Union while Greek Cypriots have a long way to go to appreciate the importance of our presence in the European Union. Cypriots are stronger together in a stronger Europe and I have all the will, desire and energy to work on this, if I get elected.

Voice International-2024

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