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Stavri Kalopsidiotou: The leftist ideas are more important than ever before

The reunification of Cyprus is the only viable choice for the future of Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike, believes Stavri Kalopsidiotou who is running for European Elections on behalf of AKEL

International law expert Stavri Kalopsidiotou is one of the six candidates of AKEL for the following European Parliament elections. She talks about the relevance of leftist ideas in today’s world, the ways that we can tackle extreme right, how the reunification of Cyprus can be achieved and her thoughts on immigrants and LGBTQI+ issues in an exclusive interview to Voice Cyprus News.

She also refers to the turbulent wars in our region arguing that in both Ukraine and Gaza cases, the European governments have not undertaken effective initiatives for a ceasefire.

What persuaded you to get involved in politics?

Kalopsidiotou: Politics resonate as the framework within which we can conceptualise state–society relations towards the full realisation of a progressive, fair and democratic social contract. I have always taken the view that everyone, where every person is best suited, should be actively involved. I worked in the European Parliament when the Republic of Cyprus joined the EU and in the years that followed, my participation in AKEL’s European policy sector remained uninterrupted. At the same time, through my daily engagement with the Cyprus problem, human rights, socio-economic issues and the legal science, I have been actively involved in politics as a place of contact and joined action with people with whom we share common concerns.

What is the Left for you in today’s world?

Kalopsidiotou: Our positions on several key issues, such as the Cyprus problem, human rights, ecology, sustainable development and the redistribution of wealth, against the severe militarisation of international relations, are telling of what the Left represents in today’s world. The world community is currently facing huge challenges with regards to all the above issues to which the left and progressive forces are striving to offer fair, sustainable, and anthropocentric solutions.

How can we tackle the rise of the extreme right in our home country Cyprus but also elsewhere in Europe?

Kalopsidiotou: Consistency and persistence in struggling for more anthropocentric policies in Cyprus and the EU, in alleviating social and economic injustices, inequalities and discrimination, in securing equal rights for all workers in EU countries through collective agreements. It is not enough to expose the multifaceted engagement of the traditional right-wing forces with fascist parties, with the local example of DHSY and ELAM. We shall continue to strive for a real change in current policies which have proven to be the vehicle for the proliferation of fear and racism by the ideological supporters of ethnic, religious, and other alternate forms of ‘supremacy’. And this is a call towards all the progressive forces and people.

AKEL seems to have momentum for these elections. Don’t you agree?

Kalopsidiotou: This was demonstrated by the result achieved in the presidential elections and it is reinforced through the messages that we continuously receive from the people. I am optimistic that with our work and the submission of proposals and presentation of a positive agenda on both European and national issues, this promising momentum will yield results in the forthcoming elections as well.

Do you think that the reunification of Cyprus is still possible?

Kalopsidiotou: We cannot afford anything different. The reunification of Cyprus is the only viable choice for the future of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike. But we certainly need positive developments and initiatives. As this appears to be the only means to convince concretely the UN and the international community of our determination; and the only way to test and hopefully alleviate Turkey’s intransigent stance for a two-state solution which dangerously undermines the prospect of bringing the Cyprus problem back on the track of negotiations and of a solution within the agreed framework.

What can we do towards the direction of reunification?

Kalopsidiotou: Bearing in mind the situation as it has developed and given the responsibility of the Turkish side, which now essentially demands a two-state solution and proceeds to more and more new divisionist faits accomplis, we must indeed reflect on what we need to do towards the resumption of meaningful negotiations. Since 2020 AKEL has persistently been submitting specific proposals based on four pillars, regarding what the Greek Cypriot leadership shall do. The reaffirmation of BBF with political equality is a sine qua non. As much as the consistent acceptance of the Guterres Framework and the convergences achieved by the end of the 2017 Conference, including convergences on the effective participation of the Turkish Cypriots in the federal organs and decision-making procedures.  Thirdly, we must adopt a comprehensive positive agenda, including beyond the EU-Turkish relations the proliferation of energy that remains utterly relevant and could prove an important motive for Turkey. And finally, we shall not ignore the positive results from the adoption and implementation of CBMs addressing long-standing problems of the Turkish Cypriots and creating a culture of cooperation.

Today, Turkish Cypriots are facing many challenges such as socio-economic situation, the policies of cultural and economic assimilation as well as the wider dependence on Turkey, deepen the multiple problems of the Turkish Cypriot community. We cannot turn a blind eye on the realities on the ground.

What are your thoughts on migration in Cyprus?

Kalopsidiotou: The increase in refugee and migrant flows is a reality. Throughout the history of mankind, insecurity, poverty, and climate change have led people to seek prospects for survival and better living conditions. Something similar is happening nowadays. With one difference: humanity, having experienced the catastrophic consequences of imperialist wars as a tool for imposing interests, obscurantism of ideologies of superiority over others, proceeded to regulate international relations and recognized the universality of human rights. The perseverance of a piecemeal approach and of pre-emption policies, which often step at the margins of international legality, is unacceptable. On the contrary, we must not compromise with the devastating conditions causing people to flee from their home countries and at the same time provide for better reception conditions, faster and lawful examination procedures, adopt results-oriented policies of integration, and strongly require the replacement of the Dublin system with real EU solidarity policies.

What is your opinion on LGBTI issues and more specifically on the marriage between homosexuals and the adoption of kids?

Kalopsidiotou: As a party, through our congress decisions we have included in our priorities the end of discriminations suffered by LGBTQI+ people. This is reflected in various legislative initiatives that we have undertaken at the House of Representatives, such as the right to political union and the criminalisation of the so-called ‘conversion therapies. We have a firm supportive position against discrimination in relation to adoption and IVF, which are at the core of the right to create a family. And we equally recognise the rightful demand of the LGBTQI+ community regarding civil marriage, both internationally and in Cyprus.

Should you be elected to the European Parliament, what will you prioritise to do as a representative of Cyprus?

Kalopsidiotou: Unquestionably, the Cyprus problem will remain of pivotal significance. Our national problem is the compass that guides our actions, both in Cyprus and in Europe. Other than that, as a force for assertion AKEL and the Left in the European Parliament will continue to put high on our agenda a more social Europe, with an expansion of labour rights, the effective implementation of policies and legislation promoting gender equality, ensuring protection from all forms of discrimination on the basis of origin, beliefs and sexual orientation and last but not least, the application of policies that will reorient EU’s foreign policy on the basis of international law, to the benefit of the peoples of Europe and not of a cynical directorate of Eurocrats.

Voice Cyprus News 2024

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