I’m writing this in the aftermath of the assembly. The new leadership has been elected (UJCE took the presidency), the political declaration passed and published, and I’ve pursued pretty much every bilateral meeting I wanted to. So, it’s been a successful week, time to go home and deal with the mounting pile of personal responsibilities I’ve been carefully ignoring.
On Thursday we went to a reception at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The minister made a speech, and there was an informative display showing the history of the ministry, along with the history of the ‘Cyprus problem’. It was interesting to see how the sequence of events was represented - what is emphasised, and what is missing. The coup of 1974 only got a brief mention, there was nothing about the repression of the left under military rule, and then Cyprus simply ‘returns to democracy’. Even now that history is experienced very differently by forces on the left.
People at the assembly were handing out material from AKEL. They had a couple of thick in-depth books about the history of Cyprus, the books were in english and I now regret not taking some of them home with me.
Still, the foreign ministry put on a buffet, and it was encouraging to see some level of state approval for the work of the assembly. I have difficulty imagining a similar international conference receiving the same official welcome in Britain…
I spoke with one of the delegates from Japan, and he gave me a newspaper (I think affiliated to the Socialist Party?).
Japan is one of those places which has an unexpectedly active left-wing movement, there’s a mass-membership Communist Party, strong trade unions, and a history of militant protest action (just check out the protests over the Tachikawa and Narita airports in the 1960s).
After the conclusion of the assembly business, we went to Cyprus university again for late lunch/dinner. I hung out with the Indian and Pakistani comrades, they were happy to find the bust of Rabindranath Tagore on the campus grounds.
From there we went to dinner at the Laiko coffee factory (I think?), they gifted us bags of coffee, which I’m excited to try when I get home! And finally, we went to a concert for the 75th anniversary of EDON.
In the entrance was this cool PEO poster for the 1st May.
They played Bella Ciao ♫
And (at least) one cover of a song by Vasilis Papakonstantinou. That made me happy :)
And some other songs… which I didn’t recognise, but I was already into it.
We went back to Perevolia late at night, all buzzy and ready for a long rest.
The following morning I packed my bags, and had a long breakfast.
Before leaving some people in EDON said they were going up to Deryneia, and I went along with them. There’s an observation post not far from the buffer zone, you can see Famagusta and the abandoned resort of Varosha.
My parents came here around this time last year, on the Turkish side, only about 100 metres away. They visited one side of the border, and I visited the other.
There were a few spots going up to the border area which were decorated with Greek flags and nationalist graffiti. This was also one of the few times we didn’t have a police escort, and while it was perfectly safe, you could feel it was a sensitive area.
Finally, I picked up my backpack, ate a very quick lunch, and set off for the airport.
I missed my chance to stock up on halloumi in the duty-free section, and went to hang out with a few other returning delegates before my flight.