Four of the six Cypriot members of the European Parliament set aside their political differences for a few hours on Friday and joined hands to launch the communication campaign for the European Elections next May, amid grievances from a frustrated youth and rising unemployment.
Alexandra Attalides, Deputy Head of the European Parliament Office in Cyprus, said that elections for the 751 MEPs will take place in the week of May 22-25, 2014, and in Cyprus probably on Sunday, May 25.
She called on people to become ‘active citizens’ because of the important events and developments taking place among the 28 European Union members states and their neighbours.
“Europe faces great and difficult challenges and in order to respond, we must make our choices” Attalides said, adding that one of the primary differences in these elections was that the European Parliament was granted greater powers by the Lisbon Treaty, including having a say for the first time in the election of the European Commission President.
The campaign is entitled “Act.React.Impact” and will be available in 24 languages. See video: http://www.financialmirror.com/web.php?vid=2631
Eleni Theocharous from the European People’s Party and the ruling centre-right Democratic Rally (DISY) said that Cypriot voters are understandably frustrated from the lack of solidarity from other EU states and the harsh austerity measures imposed by the Eurogroup as part of a 10 bln euro bailout plan in March.
“Solidarity was not what we expected,” she said, but added “let’s make the EU what we really want it to be, not what it is today.”
Takis Hadjidemetriou of the communist Akel party and a leading member of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE) said that the issue for the EU and its people is the fragmentation of the dream of a United Europe.
“We wanted effective equality and better welfare in order to combat the biggest problem of unemployment,” he added.
Antigoni Papadopoulou from the group of Socialists and Democrats and the centre-right Democratic Party (DIKO) said that banking regulation was improving because of the involvement and pressure from the European Parliament.
“The youth are suffering the most because of the economic crisis. We must urgently find solutions. The European Parliament,” she said, “is working towards this goal, sometimes going against decisions by the Eurogroup or the European Commission, as was with the case of Cyprus.”
However, she added that all EU citizens have an opportunity to oppose the Eurosceptics, and to avoid the resurgence of the Greek extremist Golden Dawn and France’s Marie Le Pen.
“We should now allow our fate to fall in the hands of others,” said Papadopoulou, a vocal combatant for women’s rights and human liberties.
Sofoclis Sofocleous from the Socialists and Democrats and the Cypriot socialist EDEK party noted finally that he does not agree with the Eurosceptics but believes that things in the EU can be rectified. One in five citizens is below the poverty line and 30 mln are unemployed, he said, adding that the north-south divide, as well as tax evasion worth about 1 trillion euros are issued that need to be dealt with.
Asked about the new European Commission President, Antigone Papadopoulou said that both Jose Manuel Barroso and his Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner were a failure, as seen from the harsh criticism they received this week at the State of the Union address in Strasbourg.
The new President should have flexibility, she said, with Takis Hadjidemetriou adding that he or she should be primarily aware of social justice, while Sofoclis Sofocleous said that what is needed is a “new leader who must inspire and lead”.
After the meeting, MEP Hadjidemetriou presented the European Citizen Award to the ‘Dance for Peace’ group, a bicommunal project established in 2001 to preserve and promote traditional folk dancing among the Greek and Turkish Cypriots communities, divided for nearly four decades after the Turkish invasion in 1974.
“This group has fostered the values of mutual respect and reconcitliation sending out a strong message for peace that must return to Cyprus,” he said, with fellow MEP Theocharous adding that “we are all working for a free island and the implementation of human rights for all citizens of this country and without any discrimination.”
The dance group will travel to Brussels on October 16-17 to receive a special prize.
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