By Angelos Anastasiou
Protesters outside the European Union House in Nicosia on Saturday expressed their solidarity and support to the Greek people, and their disapproval of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund’s austerity policies.
The crowd waved Cypriot and Greek flags, as well as banners that read “Resistance to the EU and the IMF’s austerity policies”, “Respect popular sovereignty”, and “Solidarity to the Greek people”.
Organised by communist party AKEL and the Movement Against Foreclosures, the protest featured a concert with Koullis Theodorou, as well as the reciting of poems by Bertolt Brecht and others, and was attended by the party’s leader Andros Kyprianou, deputies, MEPs, party and union officials.
Addressing the protest, Kyprianou condemned the “provocative, unacceptable, and undemocratic” stance of European Union leaders towards Greece and the Greek people.
He added that their stance revealed the true face of the “neoliberal conservative capitalist model”, and that the famous solidarity of partners has been “wiped off the face of the earth”.
“We will not falter,” Kyprianou told the gathered crowd.
“We will not stop fighting for a better future for the majority, instead of the few ‘chosen ones’.”
He argued that the Greek reality, shaped by the policies adopted since 2009, was 1,5 million unemployed, a bigger gap between the richest and the poorest, more than half of new employment contracts involve part-time work, increased child poverty, and more suicides.
AKEL’s leader also accused the Cypriot government and some of the media that they “served Cyprus, too, with the ‘miracle’ tranquiliser”.
“A miracle with over 70,000 jobless as the unemployment rate exceeds 16 per cent,” he said.
“A miracle with youth unemployment at 35 per cent, with many young people opting to look for work abroad. A miracle with wages and pensions slashed by over 30 per cent. A miracle with poverty approaching 29 per cent, and pensioners’ standard of living over 30 per cent lower.”
Meanwhile, a similar protest was held outside the Paphos Municipal Council building on Friday night.
Protesters waved flags and banners which included slogans like “No to Europe’s austerity and pauperisation, no to stalemates and fear”, and “Small peoples, big statures”.
Various citizens addressed the gathered crowd, expressing solidarity to the Greeks and damning EU policies.
“Our presence here aims at lending Greece a voice, and to pray to God that the Greeks tell the EU a resounding ‘No’,” said Andri Paphiti, a Paphos citizen.
“The European Union will bury Greece, but Greece can always be resurrected.”
Another citizen, Polynikis Charalambides, said that Hellenism is more under trial than ever before, and that it is “our duty to stand alongside our Greek brothers”.
“We are here not in support of ‘No’ or ‘Yes’, but alongside the Greek people, to do what they choose freely, without pressure and alarmism,” said the Citizens Alliance’s Doros Paphitis.
The Greens’ Andreas Evlavis said that the least the Cypriot people can offer their Greek brothers is support, noting that “the Europeans’ fear-mongering and terrorism is unprecedented” and arguing that it should galvanise the Greeks.