Permit me, on behalf of the trade unions PEO, DEV-IS, KTOS, KTOEOS, KTAMS, BES, DAU-SEN and KOOP-SEN, who have taken the initiative to convene this Peace and Reunification meeting, to welcome and thank you all for your participation in this Meeting.
The idea of convening this meeting certainly did not come out of nowhere. It is the continuation of long-standing joint actions focusing on peace and reunification. In the current conditions that have evolved after the Crans Montana conference, these joint actions must not only continue, but must be intensified and assume an even more mass character. There is no doubt that the big popular mobilizations that have so far been organized in the buffer zone of Ledra Palace aiming at popular intervention and to put pressure on the leaders and the international community so that the procedure of the talks should be productive and yield results, conveyed a powerful message of hope in many directions, given that they have even been cited by the UN Secretary-General himself who has noted this message in the reports he has submitted.
As a worker’s movement we are aware that no trade union and social gain can be permanent and stable as long as our homeland remains divided and the presence of foreign troops on our land continues and is perpetuated. Only through a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem and within the framework of a reunified, peaceful and democratic common homeland can a promising future for us and our children be effectively promoted.
The existing partitionist status quo is unacceptable and incompatible with the principles of international and European law and represents a permanent threat to peace, security and the demographic balance on our island.
We are firmly committed to the goal that has been included in both the High-Level Agreements between the two communities, as well as in the UN resolutions for a solution of bicommunal, bizonal Federation with political equality as set out in the UN documents within the framework of a reunified state with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality. For a Cyprus without a foreign military presence, far from any military alliances, a bridge of peace and security for our entire region.
The intercommunal talks are the only way for an honorable agreement between the two communities, which is why, from positions of principle, we have with consistency always backed the peace procedure for a solution of the Cyprus problem through the waging of serious and substantive negotiations. We have actively and in practice supported the current negotiations between the leaders of the two communities and have worked actively and jointly in both communities to create the best possible preconditions among the working people to assist the procedure and the leaders, so that the result we have been struggling for over the years is achieved.
For sure the support expressed towards the negotiations and the negotiators does not in any way mean a passive waiting and monitoring of the negotiation procedure from afar. We consider that this is not our role as representatives of the working people. As a trade union movement, we actively and creatively assert by projecting our positions and proposals so that the outcome of the negotiation and the final agreement to solve the Cyprus problem will contain those parameters that correspond to the fundamental principles and values that the trade union movement always defends.
On the basis of this approach, we have declared for approximately 20 years, and we reaffirm today too our common demand that the solution includes the implementation of a single labour relations and employment system, a uniform wage and salary system and a single social insurance scheme. We also demand the full respect for the right of association and the right to free movement and choice of employment and employer in any region of Cyprus.
Unfortunately, the procedure of the talks was not concluded at Crans Montana, resulting in the Cyprus problem now being at a not only barren, but also very dangerous stalemate. Cypriots as a whole, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, are the ones first and foremost harmed by the impasse, given that so long as the Cyprus problem remains unresolved, it is our country that remains partitioned.
The visit and contacts of Mrs. Lute to Cyprus, as special envoy of the UN Secretary-General, the meetings at the headquarters of the UN and the recent report submitted by the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council marks a last-ditch attempt on the part of the international community to resume the negotiation procedure from the point it had remained, aiming at the positive outcome and opening of the path for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
It is our conviction that this effort must succeed this time for the sake of our common homeland.
Clarity and steadfastness in the pursuit of the solution of a Bi-zonal, Bi-communal Federation and a responsible creative approach is needed in order to make correct use of the six-point framework which the UN Secretary-General put forth at Crans Montana.
Particularly important will be the role played by the leaders of the two communities who are also the negotiators. We have expectations and demands from the leaders. They must rise to the occasion and put forward the future of our common homeland above everything else. No prestige, no petty- consideration and no ulterior motive whatsoever can be worth more than this future.
We expect a positive and constructive stand in the negotiations, but also measures that should be preparing the people for a solution and reunification; measures that should highlight the benefits from the solution and pull the rug from under the nationalists and merchants of fear and insecurity.
As a working people’s movement, we will never compromise with the idea of partition. With consistency and determination, we shall continue to work together to promote the idea of peaceful cohabitation in a reunited, peaceful and secure homeland.
Time is suffocatingly short for the reunification of Cyprus, which is why it is without question necessary for the new effort to start and receive the determined support from the working people and society in general, with the most active and mass intervention as possible of the people’s factor.
The time has come to leave behind and finally bury the violence of the past, nationalist outbursts and the bigotry that brought pain and separation to the country and its people. We, who have been struggling for years against division and for the reunification of our country, demand that the procedure, which led up to Crans Montana and where everyone was talking about the final mile before the final settlement, mustn’t be allowed to collapse again, but should be concluded in a positive way so as to lead to peace and the reunification of our country.
A possible total collapse this time of this procedure as well will undoubtedly bring partition a big step closer and will create dangerous conditions for the people of Cyprus, for Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians, Latins.
Doing everything on our part, as Cypriots and as working people, who have nothing to gain from nationalisms and partitionist sermons, we will devote all our forces so that there will this time be a positive outcome.
We are certain that today’s meeting will agree not only to a common political framework, but also to a program of actions so that we can best respond in the best possible way to the need for a serious and militant people’s intervention so as to keep the hope alive.