UNDER the leadership of Marinos Sizopoulos, the so-called socialist party Edek has seen its support steadily decline and is now grouped with the rest of the small, nationalist parties that stand for a hard-line on the Cyprus problem and little else. The votes in the rejectionist pool are limited and there are too many parties fighting for a share of them. This has given rise to competition among these parties for the title of most nationalist, uncompromising and hard-line.
It is in this context that Edek’s campaign against the opening of the Dherynia crossing point should be viewed. The party is trying to win back voters that defected to Elam, Solidarity, the Greens and Citizens’ Alliance, by adopting a harder line on the crossing. It has not occurred to the leadership of the party that the arguments it has used to back its position are extremely weak and only serve to highlight Edek’s tacit support for partition. How paradoxical that a party which trades in courageous rhetoric does not have the courage to say this openly.
Today the party is organising a protest event in Dherynia against the opening of the crossing which Edek claims would cause “unfair competition” for Greek Cypriot farmers and tradesmen, facilitate the movement of tourists to the north with consequences for tourism and would contribute to the possible development of the fenced-off area of Famagusta. By Edek’s poor logic, all crossing points should be closed, because they all contribute to this unfair competition it has identified.
Why not also protect the cafes and restaurants on Nicosia’s Ledra Street from this unfair competition, by also closing the checkpoint, through which hundreds if not thousands of tourists pass every day? And taking the party’s argument to its logical extreme, we must rule out a settlement because it would allow free movement which would cause large-scale unfair competition not only for Greek Cypriot farmers in the Famagusta district, but also for developers, hoteliers, restaurateurs and estate agents in Paphos and Limassol. Fair competition can be safeguarded by partition and border controls.
As for the fenced-off area of Famagusta, does Edek seriously believe that by not having a crossing point in Dherynia the possibility of its development by the Turks would be ruled out? Unfortunately, the party has not enlightened us as to how it arrived at this bizarre conclusion. At least Elam demands the closing of all crossing points and does not come up with ludicrous arguments about unfair competition to defend its position. Sizopoulos could learn a few things from Elam if he wants Edek to become the leading extremist nationalist force.