Tomorrow Europe commemorates the 70th anniversary since the Schuman-Monnet Declaration (1950). That inventive idea spurred the forward movement of history which led, through continuous evolution, to the European Union of the present day.
On this occasion, the OPEK Governing Board calls for the need of re-examining the content of Cyprus’s substantial participation in the EU, beyond cheap criticism or opportunistic exploitation of weaknesses or failures.
Since its establishment, OPEK has been a pioneer in the European vision and in the efforts of -not many at the time- supporters of Cyprus’ accession to the European Community. While being a staunch supporter of the Union, OPEK has been an objective critic of its weaknesses over time, and a consistent proponent of deeper unification. That is why we are not happy about the deficits in the first phase of the current crisis.
At the same time, however, OPEK is expressing its displeasure at the fact that Cyprus has made a negative contribution leading to lack of coordination during the first phase of the current crisis. With its steady absence, its preference in “autonomous” policy-making during the last many years in disregard for EU policies, with the selection of a commissioner the most critical as it turned out to be. Even now, in the second phase, when it seems that the EU institutions are engaged with a successful development of initiatives to coordinate the restart of the economy and the fight against the virus, Cyprus is absent from the processes. It is is passively waiting for the billions of aid, at a time when it keeps away from the processes in support of the anti-virus campaign, and ostentatiously makes a contribution to the WHO instead of the relevant EU Fund. Exactly the same day.
The OPEK Governing Board believes that it is high time, both for leadership and citizens in Cyprus, to enter a dialogue from the outset for our participation in the EU, based on the following parameters:
In view of this situation, OPEK calls upon both leaders and citizens to start anew a public debate on our participation in the EU process on the basis of the following parameters:
- European unification has proved to be the most important “act of peace” in human history. Age long enemies left behind permanent enmities and protracted wars, and managed to put an end even to the hardest lines of separation.
- The European Union has made strides ahead, has been enlarged, and has made vast progress. Nowadays, it keeps together 27 member states within common values, political objectives, and interests. A large majority of citizens supports the European structure, as a mutually beneficial Union of states and people. This happens because the EU safeguards security, stability, and respect for the rule of law, human rights and the least social inequalities. In no part of the world, do all these achievements come together.
- In an evolutionary process of 70 years, the EU has shown extreme strength in overcoming hardships and crises as well as the slow pace of decision making and development, owing to the complexity of its decision making processes. To reach consensus needs hard proactive effort particularly when individual member states hesitate or waver. At the same time, it is necessary to take a clear stand against those circles who have at the back of their minds the return to introversion, nationalism, or global bipolarity.
- The idea of deepening unity in the EU will take time and compromise. Cyprus needs to dare to enter into the debate for a fiscal, and therefore political, union of those states that want it. With this strategic orientation within the EU, Cyprus will have real interlocutors in the effort for a better Europe. The active contribution with speech and voice will magnify the potential of Cyprus and its going along with the most pro-European forces, at the first speed of unification.
- What really counts in the EU is reliability and contribution to the common European interest. As long as a member state, particularly a small one, chooses a la carte participation, it is marginalized on strategic issues. Cunning behavior with the aim to achieve individual profit may serve once but such profit evaporates and vanishes in the face of the first reversal. Tax paradise and “gold” passport practices damage the prestige of the leadership and that of Cyprus all together, by downgrading it into the problematic states.
- By acceding to the EU in 2004, Cyprus was given the advantage to act from a clearly privileged position within the complex environment of international antagonism and globalization. Even powerful states are becoming aware that they cannot meet the challenge of globalized economy on their own. Two recent crises over the past decade (the bank crisis and the corona virus pandemic) point to the fact that Cyprus managed to meet challenges only thanks to the status of an EU member state. Cyprus needs to see its future through policies for green growth, digital transformation, and the ongoing effort to reduce inequalities by promoting a decisive shift towards social justice.
- In our view, as OPEK Governing Board, Cyprus can use with confidence the European example in order to resolve the age long Cyprus problem, and become a normal country fully functioning within the EU. It is in our hands to put forth a new narrative on Cyprus, Europe, and the world. A Cyprus that solves problems, a Cyprus with a reliable voice in the proactive group in the EU, an example of reconciliation and coexistence, is the vision OPEK puts forth in the public debate.
OPEK Governing Board