70 years AON-EDON drawing lessons from the past we build the future Theses of the Central Council of EDON on the 70year Anniversary of AON – EDON April 2014
1. The year of 2014 has a special meaning for the Progressive Youth Movement in Cyprus, as 70 years have passed since the founding of the Progressive Youth Organization, which later (55 years ago) evolved into the United Democratic Youth Organization (EDON).
Going back 70 years in time, even further back in the 1920s, where one can detect the birth of the Progressive Youth Movement on the island in our country, we, the current generation of EDON members, stand at awe before of the historical greatness recorded by the actions of the Communist Youth of Cyprus (CYC), of AON and of EDON. The sum of the actions and sacrifices of AON – EDON, as well as that of CYC, was determined throughout the ages by two fundamental axes. The first concerns the consistent and incessant dedication on the values and ideas of Socialism, of Democracy, of Freedom, of Social Justice, of Equality and Solidarity. The second axis concerns the close and firm relations of EDON with the workers’ Party, the left Party – AKEL - as well as the wider Popular Movement.
2. The roots of the progressive youth movement of our country date back in the third decade of the 20th century.
Under the influence of the revolutionary ideas of the Great October Socialist Revolution, one observes that the first nuclei of Marxist groups and the first trade unions are being composed. Soon after that, the Party of the Working Class - CPC (the Communist Party of Cyprus) - is founded in August 1926. The youth plays an important role in this process as the most militan component of the workers, through Marxist mobilizations initially, through the composition of the Working Youth of Limassol in 1924, the composition of the Students’
Youth, and later of the Womenâ€™s Youth. In September 1926, with a decision made in the founding Congress of the CPC, the three Organizations become one and constitute the Communist Youth of Cyprus marking, in this way, the initiation of the organized expression of the progressive youth movement in Cyprus.
Within the framework of the anti-colonial struggle of CYC, Giorgos Filis - member of the Organization - is murdered by the British during the October events, while he was distributing proclamation leaflets in Famagusta.
The Communist Youth, having minimal strength, in difficult conditions of poverty, of colonial suppression, of illegitimacy and prosecution, fought with self-denial for the rights of the youth and our people. It created those subjective conditions, it formed the yeast for the appearance of a massive political organization; the progressive youth of AON. 3. The beginning of the 2nd World War and the participation of thousands of Cypriots in the struggle against fascism in correlation with the widening and strengthening of the Popular Movement, which exercised pressure through several massive demonstrations and events, forced the colonial government to loosen - to some extend - the oppressive measures enforced during Palmerâ€™s regime in the 1931-1941 period.
Within these new conditions, the Youth Organization of AKEL (AON) is founded in the fall of 1944. It operates within legally and soon it embraces the progressive youth in urban and rural areas. In July, 1945, AON organizes its first Pancyprian Congress and is renamed to Progressive Youth Organization (AON).
The founding of AON constitutes a mark-point in the course of development of the democratic progressive youth movement of our island, since the youth was starting to have its own massive, militant expression, a powerful weapon in the struggle for national liberation and acquisition of rights. While AON was in existence, it was faithful to the policy of national liberation and anti-imperialism of the Popular Movement and it applied the strategy of unity and united patriotic action of the youth which was mobilized with courage in the struggle against the colonial regime.
AON educated thousands of young people in the spirit of the anti-colonial, anti-imperialist struggle and the struggle against fascism and oppression, with the ideals of peace, democracy, social progress and socialism.
In December 1955, AON was attacked by the colonial regime, and along with other organizations of the popular movement, it was placed out of law. It continued its illegal activities with persecutions until 1959.
4. During this period the Left Movement receives fascist attacks from the provocateurs of Grivas, who pursued - in full compliance with imperialism - to lead the island in civil war by committing assassination attacks against fighters of the popular movement. Despite this uncalled for, inhumane assassination of dozens of militants of the popular movement (Savvas Menikou, Ilias Tofaris, Michalis Petrou and others) the Left, with a high sense of responsibility, patriotism and prudence, put a stop to the illegal plans which were planned at the expense of Cyprus and our people, by preventing the civil war.
While AON is out of law, the members of AON are always on the front of the massive popular actions against the colonial regime. In one such mobilization, in September 1955 a student, member of AON – Andreas Georgiou - was murdered by English colonialists in Limassol.
Struck by the prosecution and oppression of the colonial regime and being illegal even after the signing of the Zurich – London Agreements, AON could not fulfill the duties which the new conditions called for. The leadership of AON studied these new conditions and the necessity for a legal organized expression of the desires, wishes and pursuits of the democratic youth, and made the historical decision of dissolving AON and replacing it with a new legal, massive, political, and cultural youth organization. 5. Founding EDON on the 12th of April 1959 was the result of specific socio – economic conditions in Cyprus after the Zurich – London Agreements, according to which the Cyprus Republic was established, and it comprised a historical mark point in the life and actions of the progressive youth movement of our country. After multiple struggles which ended up in bloodshed so as to free Cyprus from the colonial regime and where the youth played a leading and heroic role, the solution that was offered did not match the desires of the Cypriot
people. The Zurich – London Agreements formed a compromise that did not abolish the imperialist presence in Cyprus as it included divisionary provisions for the two communities. It was however implemented because of the deadlocks created by the armed conflicts with which the left had disagreed, warning about the negative consequences. Despite its disagreement with the 1959 agreements, the left later supported the newly – founded independent state with struggles for the safeguarding and completion of the independence of Cyprus.
The Cypriot people and the youth inherited huge economic and social problems from colonialism. The Cypriot economy was in a state of delay. The working masses suffered from unemployment and poverty. Salaries were extremely low, especially those of young workers. Migration turned into a social plague, especially for young people. Education was still a privilege for few people. Schools exercised anti-democratic, anti-pedagogical methods. In rural areas, living and working conditions were extremely difficult. The cultural life was non-existent and naturally a great problem was created for the healthy occupation of the youth. The masses of the democratic youth were ready to continue the struggle against imperialism in these new conditions, so as to abolish the foreign death bases, the Guarantors Agreement so as to democratize the constitution and complete the independence of Cyprus. The democratic youth was ready to fight and solve the economic and social problems and create better living conditions, for peace, democracy and social justice. 6. The founding Congress set the goals of EDON for organization and incorporation of the youth in the struggle against imperialism (a) for the completion of the independence of Cyprus, (b) for the education of the young generation with the ideals of democracy, peace social progress and social justice, (c) for the education of the youth in the spirit of internationalism and anti – imperialist solidarity, (d) for the mobilization of the youth in the struggle for the solution of the economic and social problems, and (e) for the creation of conditions for healthy employment with educational, cultural, athletic and touristic activities. 7. In the 70 years of the history of the massive progressive youth movement, AON – EDON and the thousands of its members, put their stamp on every political demonstration, mobilization against colonialism and conspiracies, against outside and inside reactions, in the defense of democracy and independence in Cyprus. In 1964 EDON members massively
join the National Guard, in order to fight against the Turkish invasion. Michalakis Kousoulides, member of the Central Council, Panayiotis Z. Astanios, Georgios Ikosaris, Christakis Ftohopoulos, Georgios Prodromou as well as other important rank and file of EDON sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom.
The patriotic forces of the Cypriot people resisted in multiple ways in the double NATOmilitary intervention against Cyprus in an attempt to defend democracy, sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the non-aligned Cyprus Republic. The youth of EDON responded once again to the call, fought heroically and with self – sacrifice against the tanks of the Gounta and the Attila. The blood of EDON members such as, Kestas, the Papalazarou brothers, Evagorou, Kleanthous, Matheou, Misiaouli, Charalambons, Papaghanasiou, Socratous, Stylianou, Andreou and others, once again watered the tree of freedom in our island. EDON heroes consciously sacrificed their lives, because EDON had nourished them with the human ideals of freedom, democracy, peace, social progress and socialism. 8. The tragic situation created in Cyprus after the fascist coup d’ état and the Turkish invasion created new conditions for the youth and the people in the island. Along with the totality of the Cypriot people, EDON also suffered from the NATO conspiracy. Out of the 190 sections of EDON, 71 were dislocated. The great population of refugees and the economic disaster did not bring EDON down. The Organization reshaped the forms of work, reorganized in time the organizational mechanism and directed the main weight of activities in the massive, political mobilization of the youth for the salvation of Cyprus. It initiated several activities for the relief and rise of the morale of refugees, by promoting campaigns of gathering material help, by offering voluntary work and by organizing a great number of cultural events in refugee camps and residential areas.
From the start, EDON put itself in the first line of the anti-occupational, anti-imperialist struggle of our people, distancing itself from chauvinistic diversions, fighting for the unity of our country and our people through the achievement of a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem, which would safeguard primarily the interest of our people - Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins.
The tragic confirmation of the predictions of the left regarding the double crime of July 1974 in correlation with the organizational measures taken by EDON, gave the organization a
push so as to develop the radicalization and intense politicalization of the youth by channeling young people to the road of organized struggle and claiming political, social and human rights of the youth and our people. EDON was quite successful this period in every respect of activities while there was an unprecedented massiveness in its activities.
9. Despite the positive elements brought by the rapid socio-economic development after 1974, for which the left had played a decisive role, in the midst of the 1980’s and thereafter, this image of radicalization in the youth movement and the society in general, gradually changes because of the rapid economic development and the gradual invasion of capitalistic “values” as well as the chronological distancing from the 1974 events. This new reshaped reality pushed, and continues to do so to this day, toward de-politicalisation, to introversion, to indifference and individualism. 10. At the same time, the dissolution of the socialist states in Europe in the end of the 1980’s and beginning of the 1990’s, affected the world left in a negative way with regard to the attractiveness of the socialist ideals. Cyprus was no exception to this rule.
Moreover, a side-effect of this turn of events in the popular movement in general, and EDON in particular, was the acts of faction within the Party which resulted in the withdrawal of the factionalists from the popular movements. 11. The 1990’s brought the monocracy of the USA and NATO and an unprecedented form of audacity and arrogance in imperialism. Imperialism now took the form of the “New World Order”, of neo-liberal globalization and the recent “war against international terrorism”; attempts to dominate completely the peoples and the workers to the benefit of the interests of multi-national monopolies and plutocracy.
12. Our entry to the 21st century recorded two important milestones. The Annan Plan as a final solution plan for the Cyprus Problem, was placed in separate simultaneous referenda on the 24th of April 2004. The timeframes and the anticipated process of arbitration of the General Secretary UN did not allow the plan to become a meaningful negotiation procedure between the two sides on the project and to reach an agreed solution. As a result, the plan
was rejected by the Greek Cypriot community. A week later, Cyprus became a full member of the European Union, affecting the Cypriot society in a decisive way.
13. Before the new circumstances, and difficulties that arose, the Left movement and EDON, not only were not they led to weakening and shrinking, but on the contrary, they became even more strengthened, against the wishful thinking of the bourgeoisie. The influence of the Left is clearly reflected in 2008 when for the first time, AKEL elected its Secretary General, comrade Demetris Christofias at the presidency of the Republic. Based on its long-term struggle, its multifaceted contributions to the youth and the general population of Cyprus and based on the powerful bonds that it developed with the young population, EDON played a decisive role in this decisive milestone for the Left. This step exceeds the limits of our small homeland and spreads in a worldwide context. 14. The outbreak of the biggest crisis in the history of capitalism coincided with the undertaking of the governance of Cyprus by the Left. Having to deal with these issues, the Left fought to preserve the working conquests, the existence of the social state and in many cases achieved the extension of social profits for the more vulnerable social groups of the population. The greatest achievement of historical significance during the Christofias governance, regarding the future of Cyprus, was the search and discovery of hydrocarbons in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus. However, the crisis of capitalism, in conjunction with the criminal decisions made in the banking sector (of the bank administration and the Governor of the Central Bank at the time) and the support given by the political and economic status quo led the country to the brink of bankruptcy. In 2013 in view of these developments, the right wing regains power and within the first month of governance, they co-formulate with the Euro group the decisions of the 15th and 25th of March 2013, effectively destroying the banking system and thus the Cypriot economy. Cyprus is now facing the consequences of harsh austerity and the neoliberal model that is imposed by Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) in total cooperation of the government of President Anastasiadis.
15. Through all the decades if its history, EDON managed to demonstrate a significant and important political, cultural and assertive action, maintaining and enhancing its leading role in the youth movement. EDON, achieved to maintain itself as the most important and
biggest youth organization, managing to embrace, organize and mobilize thousands of democratic young people for a better future and a different, possible world. These goals could only be achieved by maintaining the following characteristics: assertive action in all sectors, resistance to the bloodshed of the "new order" and the neoliberal globalization, resistance to the neoliberal policies of DI.SI and its fellows, struggle against chauvinism in parallel with the enlargement of the rapprochement movement as well as maintaining the pioneer role in the anti-occupation struggle of our people. Under the present conditions of deep recession and the extreme attack of neoliberalism, by the DI.SI government and the Troika, the efforts to complete deregulation of the labor relations, to sell off the public wealth and dismantle the welfare state, the obsolescence of institutions and civil society, it is imperative to fight with the youth for the youth, next to AKEL, for freedom, peace, democracy, social progress, bearing aloft the banner of the socialist worldview. 16. Since the age of the Communist ÎĽouth of Cyprus (KNK), the progressive youth movement, grounded in the class - internationalist character of the socialist ideology and giving special consideration and attention to the relations of the two main communities on the island, defines itself as the movement of the Left in general, not merely of the Greek Cypriot community. The position of KNK for common organization and common struggle of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots against colonialism and the capital is expressed in practice through the integration of Turkish Cypriots to the Communist Party of Cyprus and in Trade unions and through the common actions of Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
The common action is reinforced during the period of AON, through the common struggles against colonialism and the common class struggles such as the great strikes of the 40's, through the common sports and cultural activity culminating in AON's festivals as well as in the establishment of common cultural associations. The breading of nationalist â€“ chauvinist hatred by colonialists and imperialist, through nationalist actions in both communities and the inter-communal conflicts that developed at the end of years of 57' and 58' and continued during 63'-64' and 67 forced the Organization to increase the efforts for a peaceful coexistence and cooperation among Greek Cypriots
and Turkish Cypriots as well as the common struggle against chauvinism and the imperialist schemes against Cyprus.
The struggles of the movement of the Left, the sacrifice of our dear comrades who gave their life at the altar of Greek-Turkish friendship, symbol of which became the sacrifice of Dervish Ali Kavazoglou and Kostas Mishiaoulis, who were murdered in April 1965 by the terrorist Turkish-Cypriot organization TMT, did not - unfortunately - prevent the imperialist schemes against Cyprus. Thus, from 1974 onwards, EDON continued within different conditions of the violent separation of our people, to promote the slogan â€œThe Turks of Cyprus are not our enemies, the Turks of Cyprus are our brothersâ€? and became a pioneer in promoting the policy of rapprochement for which EDON was mocked, attacked and derided by the right wing - nationalist forces. The policy of rapprochement, which took flesh and bones in practical terms through contacts, coordination, joint initiatives and actions from the period immediately after the invasion, gained broader basis since the early 1990s. The policy of rapprochement, which was transformed in bones and flesh on a practical level through contacts, coordination, joint initiatives and actions since the period after the invasion, gained a broader basis since the early 1990's. Nowadays, life herself has vindicated this policy, as it is widely accepted by the majority of the political forces in both communities, which fight against the status quo, for the reunification of our country and our people. After the opening of the barricades in 2003, the movement became bigger, and there is a joint effort for continuous, mass activities of EDON with other progressive Turkish Cypriot organizations.
17. Recognizing the importance of the unity of action of the youth movement that is based on principles and serves the interests of the youth and our people, the progressive youth movement gave special emphasis to these issues since the first years of its existence. AON's call to form a common front against colonialism with the creation of the Patriotic Council of Youth Organizations and the demand of EDON later to form a permanent coordinating body during the 60's, show the consistency on principles of the progressive movement throughout the years. These efforts did not take a practical expression since the organized bodies of the Right wing opposed these views.
In terms of EDON's commitment for the need for unity of actions in the Youth movement, the following are just some examples: 1) support of the National Federations of Student Unions of Cyprus (OEFEK) initially and the Pan Cyprian Federation of Students and Young Scientists (POFNE) later when the first was put under the control of the Greek junta 2) coordination and cooperation for the Cyprus Problem with the Greek Cypriot democratic youth organizations as well as with Turkish Cypriot progressive youth Organizations 3) common initiatives for the expression of internationalist solidarity with struggling people around the world 4) support of the bodies of the youth and their unity of action especially in high school and university student bodies 5) effort initially to establish the Youth Forum and the Youth Board of Cyprus later on 6) establishment of the Bicommunal Youth Forum with EDON's initiative 7) continuous participation in the Cyprus Peace Council since its establishment.
18. Since the establishment of the Cyprus Communist Youth to this day, the Progressive Youth Movement used at times, as valuable tools, its organs of expression (printed press) that were issued to educate the youth with the ideals of socialism, freedom and national independence of our country, to develop and promote specific problems of the youth, for social progress and prosperity of our people and for presenting history to the youth of our country using a sound and objective way. The youth press dates back in 1928 with the short-lived "New Bolshevik" issued only twice as accompanying document of the newspaper "New Man", the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cyprus. Following this, AON published the "Pioneers of the New Generation" and the "New State", while EDON, following its establishment, uses the newspaper "Tilegrafos" (Telegraph), as official newspaper, which was succeeded in less than a year by the newspaper "Neolea” (Youth) that remains until today the official newspaper of EDON. Today, the newspaper "Neolea" is one of the few “voices” which counter-promotes – against all the eroded media - its own quality proposals, positions and actions. It is of enormous political significance for EDON that the newspaper reaches as many young people as possible.
The official newspapers of the progressive youth movement, despite all the obstacles they faced, managed to survive because they were always the most alive, strong and genuine medium of expression created by the youth movement. Closely connected with the history of the Progressive Youth Movement, and the Movement of the Left in general, they had their own important contribution to the political, social and class struggles of the youth and our people.
19. The progressive youth movement in Cyprus, since its early beginning, adopted as a basic principle, the study and promotion of class and social problems of youth. Without exaggeration, everything that has been conquered so far within the youth movement bears the permanent signature of the progressive youth movement.
AON-EDON always had a leading part in stirring issues and claiming solutions to the problems of certain groups of the youth population (workers, students, rural youth and soldiers) and in mitigating the social problems that arise as a consequence of the capitalist system, which have negative consequences primarily on the youth - like drugs, delinquency, environmental destruction, cronyism, mortgage issues, unemployment, subculture, etc.
AON-EDON struggled and succeeded in many of these areas, in line with AKEL and the other organizations of the People's Movement and managed to significantly upgrade the position of young people in society and their social role through substantial institutional participation in decision-making processes that affect them.
The emancipation of Cypriot women and gender equality has also been a priority in the objectives of AON-EDON, recording achievements that have significantly improved the position of women in Cypriot society, without however, completely eliminating unequal treatment between genders.
It is not surprising that the Cypriot youth today looks at EDON, as the consistent, militant, assertive front, through which they will ensure and extend the rights and conquests related to their life, education, work and leisure.
The fact that EDON remains the leading and claiming force in the youth struggles is the best proof that the vision of the Left is the essential counterweight against obsolescence, apathy and de-politicization.
20. Issues like child care, the effort for decisive intervention of the state to solve the problems faced by children, the ongoing activity for the promotion of cultural, educational, social status of the child, the continuous efforts to organize events to involve children, the multifaceted capacity building initiatives of children and in particular the work for legal recognition of children's rights, have been some of the key priorities of AON-EDON. The expression and reflection of the consistent care and the struggle of the progressive youth movement for the conquest of children's rights, for democratic education and healthy engagement, constitutes the establishment by AON of the â€œAetopoullaâ€? and by Edon in 1960, of the Childrenâ€™s Movement of EDON.
In the history of the children's movement a lot has been achieved, such as the institution of summer camping that started in 1970 leading to the acquisition of a privately owned camping ground in the village of Pervolia in Larnaca, the National Educational Competitions 'Play and Learn', the National Conferences, the institutionalization of 'Solidarity Carols', the participation in International Camps, the establishment of Children's Festivals and mainly the operation of dozens of local movements with rich and important cultural, sporting and cultural activities.
21. The beginning of the organized progressive student movement is traced in 1924 with the establishment of the Student Communist Youth. With the establishment of PEOM (Pancyprian United Organisation of Students ) in 1955 it attains a mass character, which continues to this day, despite changes in the way of connecting students with the Organization through the creation of the Student Department of the EDON since 1991 and onwards. The steady and timeless pursuit of the progressive youth movement has been - and remains - the free access of all young people in all levels of education, without limitations and exclusions because of class origin or due to other forms of discrimination. Along with the perception of free public education for all young people, the aim is to have a continuous democratization of the content and structures of the educational system, a progressive
orientation of the school in order to create conditions for adequate and modern infrastructure and to cultivate among the student population critical thinking and humanist values and ideals.
It is through this philosophical approach that struggles have been given in the student movement throughout the years, through which many have been accomplished with the progressive youth movement at the front of the struggle. AON-EDON, throughout the years, supports the unity of action in the student movement, the struggles of the student movement at the side of our people for freedom, national independence and social progress. AON-EDON supports the involvement of the student movement in the expression of international solidarity to peoples which struggle and particularly in securing the role of the student movement in the educational process and in the broader social context.
The establishment of the Cyprus and the District Coordinating Committees of students in 1994 was a major step in this direction, which should of course be accompanied by the institutionalisation of action of student organizations which act for decades in schools. This is an objective set as a priority by EDON.
EDON gives particular attention to the development of educational, cultural and sporting activities among students which are members of the Organization by institutionalizing student summer camps, educational seminars, political and cultural events, setting cultural groups etc.
22. The focus of AON-EDON within the student movement has always been of very high priority, since the official student movement prior to its mass organisation of the '60s, was represented in the International Union of Students (IUS) by AON. Following the mass organisation of the Student Movement, EDON supports mass organizations of the movement and the unity of action aiming at an assertive student movement that is militant, struggling and effective which will fight for the best interests of the Cypriot people and students.
In this context, EDON supported and worked closely with the National Federation of Student Unions of Cypriots (OEFEK), founded in 1962, up until the Athens Junta appoints at the leadership of the Federation extreme right students, members of EOKA B’ who were members of “DRASIS”. At that point EDON withdraws its support to the Federation.
The failure of re-organizing OEFEK leads the progressive, democratic forces within the student movement to establish the Pan Cyprian Federation of Student Unions in July 1973, which is a milestone in the democratization of the Cypriot Student Movement and the harmonization of the aspirations and struggles of the vast majority of the Cypriot people.
Since its establishment and until today, EDON supports POFNE - POFEN, forging strong competitive ties with the Federation on the basis of common goals and common struggles initially to resist the imperialist intrigues against Cyprus and the fascist activity of EOKA B ' and the Junta which aimed at overthrowing democracy in our country.
This joint struggle continues after the Turkish invasion, aiming at the liberation from the occupation, the reunification of our country and our people, the rapprochement with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, the expression of international solidarity towards struggling peoples of the world and certainly in winning the rights of the student movement.
EDON since 1992 keeps a University Student section which has the status of Provincial Organization, while the forces of the Left in the student movement are formed under the umbrella of the Proodeftiki K.F., originally founded in Athens in October 1974 to expand gradually in all student centres in Cyprus, Greece and abroad. A landmark in the political history of EDON is the long effort to complete the integration of the student movement, which became reality with the inclusion of all student unions within POFNE in 2004 and which is then renamed to POFEN.
As the most reliable, consistent and militant power in the Student Movement, Proodeftiki has established itself in the minds of Cypriot students, as the leading force recording major electoral successes in student elections in the overwhelming majority of Cypriot universities, but also as the leading force on overall results.
23. The organized struggle of the Cypriot working youth was formed in 1924 with the foundation of the Worker's Communist Youth. In conditions of impoverishment, usury, and exploitation, the young Communists struggled by the side of the Communist Party of Cyprus to improve working conditions, against humiliating wages and in slave-like working places of child labour.
AON-EDON has worked over the years for the rights and demands of the working youth. The founding congress of AON in 1945 decided that the Organization will fight for the rights of the youth such as the right of work, the right of rest and the right of social security, and it allied with the class-oriented trade-union movement during the class struggles of the 1940s. EDON has also led the way of healthy youth activities since the organization’s foundation. It organized sporting, cultural, recreational and educational activities. Through the years, EDON also prepared numerous proposals on solving the housing problem, on improvement of local governance, and on dealing with corruption and cronyism which prevailed especially during the ten-year governance of the Democratic Rally between 1993 and 2003.
EDON continues to actively promote the right to work not only by preparing and proposing solutions to tackle unemployment, but also by proposing measures to relief the unemployed people. The organization connects the struggle for the rights of the workers with the right to secure and safe employment, against the arbitrariness of the employers and unsecure and flexible employment.
It connects the working and unemployed youth in the organized class struggle and the trade union movement, rejecting, at the same time, the depreciation to organized struggle, introspection, individualism and indifference.
The young workers were the Organization´s backbone until the end of the 80´s since they were the biggest part of it. The formation of the high school and student movement, their direct connection with EDON, and the reduction of the numbers of EDON Members which where young workers created the need for a young workers’ section in the Organisation.
The decision to create a young workers’ section was made in 2010 during the 16th Congress of the Organization and was a milestone in EDON´s history. Its result was the massive return of young workers to the lines of EDON.
24. Since the times of the Cypriot Communist Youth one of the main concerns was the healthy engagement of the youth, which found expression through the foundation of a theatrical group and the performance of cultural activities by the Cyprus Communist Party. AON organized Youth Festivals and created educational-cultural class oriented associations followed by dozens of dance and other cultural groups and events.
The foundation of EDON helped the above mentioned cultural activities which were then upgraded and grew further. EDON introduced among others boites (still having a distinguished part in EDONÂ´s cultural activities), performed cultural events abroad, hosted foreign groups in Cyprus, organized exhibitions and cultural competitions among the youth, printed collections of poems and organised political songs festivals. The occupation of AON â€“ EDON with culture not only starts from the need to offer to the youth healthy outlets of employment, which is certainly a key objective.
The cultural activity also constitutes a way of attracting youth for its political and ideological education. Based on the objective truth that culture is politics, it is not ideologically colorless and odorless, EDON promotes the culture that reinforces in the minds of youth a militant attitude for a better, fairer and human-oriented world.
Consequently, quality cultural activities constitute the defense against capitalistic values which are skillfully promoted by the entertainment industry and plutocracy both in our country and abroad. The mass media literary cultivate apathy, subjugation, individualism and hypocrisy in the minds of the youth.
Furthermore, the Organisation always gave space to young artists to create and emerge, following this objective successfully until today.
25. Peoples sports as a means of sound pastime of the youth was of great importance for the progressive youth movement. Its goal was (and still is) to support the State on giving opportunities to all young people through the creation of conditions for mass sports.
At the same time, AON-EDON was also very active in promoting sports, by forming various sports teams, by organizing Pancyprian Games when the left, democratic athletes were expelled from official competitions (1948 - 1953), by hosting thousands sporting activities (tournaments, championships, etc.), by promoting rural football, by contributing to the establishment, development and protection of rural football leagues, and by helping the development of athletes in various sport arts.
In the meanwhile, EDON fought battles against both the commercialization of sport and negative phenomena such as doping, violence in stadiums and the presence of racist - Nazi slogans and symbols by extreme-right fans in stadiums.
Despite the progress achieved in the field of bringing young people to sports, EDON continues to produce specific proposals for improving the situation. It undertakes initiatives through campaigns, seminars etc. to display all the positives elements that both the youth and society can gain from sports despite some negative phenomena that might arise within and outside some sport events.
26. The establishment and development of the festival movement in Cyprus is linked with the history of the progressive youth movement in our country. The institutionalisation of the WFDY and IWC World Festival of Youth and Students in 1947 triggered the realization of the first AON- Festival in Famagusta in 1951. AON organized 3 Festivals, while EDON is currently planning its 27th Pancyprian Festival of Youth and Students.
Festivals always had a strong cultural, political and social character, which can be seen both during the days of the Festival itself, and also during the long course to its preparation. The festival itself is the climax of a series of political, cultural and sports activities and events. Consequently, Festivals were and are an important space of cultural creativity which gives voice
They were, and still are, a front of struggle against imperialism and war, a forum of expression of internationalist solidarity and a practical form of the common struggle of Greek/ Cypriots and Turkish / Cypriots, since T / Cypriot youth actively participates in these festivals. Festivals were and still are the opening front of struggle to claim solutions to the problems of the youth and to affirm the desire to build another qualitatively better society: a democratic, free, and just society; a society of equality, solidarity and socialism.
27. The communist and progressive movement is of internationalist nature, by definition. Solidarity against imperialism, colonialism and fascism is of great importance for the movement and has (and will continue having) priority in all its actions. International relations always had an important place in AON-EDONÂ´s activities not only in order to express solidarity and support to other struggling people, but also in order to contribute to the struggle of the Cypriot people through the gain of international solidarity. The exchange of experiences between progressive youth organizations internationally of their political, social and class struggles was and still is, especially nowadays, a valuable tool in everyday political practice.
International solidarity took shape with the participation of 60 young Cypriots communists in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War who fought for the Republic against the dictator Franco. Comrade Ezekias Papaioannou, who some years after was elected as GS of the CC AKEL, was among them and was seriously injured. 19 of our comrades died in battle for the high ideals of our movement.
Hundreds of young communists participated in the struggle against Nazism and Fascism during the Second World War and fought on several fronts in Europe and Africa. After the end of World War II, AON was actively involved in the processes of setting up the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY). Its creation marked the international progressive youth movement and hence the international relations of AON-EDON. Focused on the participation of AON-EDON in WFDY and the close relationship with the member organizations of the Federation, our Organization participated in conferences, international meetings, campaigns for solidarity, festivals of friendship, and exchanges with sister-organizations. EDON developed strong relationships with the youth Organizations of the socialist countries, with progressive youth Organizations of Western countries who fought exploitation, and with youth Organizations of the world who are struggling against imperialism and colonialism.
In the same context, EDON hosted dozen regional and international meetings in Cyprus, meetings of the General Council of WFDY, the 15th General Assembly of the Federation and the 3rd International Preparatory Meeting for the 17th World Festival. This is a reflection of the important role played by EDON in the international progressive youth movement, and
we are honoured to hold the Vice-Presidency and Coordinators seat of the European Commission of WFDY (CENA) for many years.
AON-EDON also participated regularly in all 18 World Festivals of Youth and Students, which have always been the most massive encounter of the International Progressive Youth and the most important way of expression of Internationalist, anti-imperialist solidarity. The 18th Meeting of WFDY which was held in Portugal between the 8th and 12th November 2011 was a historic milestone for EDONs international relations. EDON assumed there the presidency of the Federation for the first time in its 70 year-old history, and took the responsibility of strengthening cooperation among international, regional and national youth organizations around the world.
The international relations of the Organization have been and continue to be a powerful tool in the hands of the Organisation in order to internationalize the Cyprus problem, to raise significant practical moral and material support for the struggle of the Cypriot people, and to address the serious problems brought about by the occupation of our island. It is also a powerful tool towards the reunification of our country and our people.
28. The progressive Cypriot youth movement, in parallel to its unionist, political, cultural, sport and educational-ideological activity, brought to Cyprus the movement of voluntary work that was spread internationally through WFDY after the 2 nd World War. The movement of voluntary work was aiming at the worldwide education of the youth in the spirit of collectiveness, altruism, solidarity and love towards progress.
The character of voluntary work, since the times of AON, was aiming to improve the living conditions and took the form of tree planting, repairing of roads, cleaning etc. Since the foundation of EDON and afterwards, the area of voluntary work is further developed with hundreds of initiatives through the construction of welfare units, preservation and expansion of green areas, the preservation of historical and archaeological areas and the building of premises for the Popular Movement.
The political character of voluntary work was expressed, also, through activities like the restoration of the Dali – Potamia road, with the participation of Turkish Cypriots, a road that symbolically carries the name of friendship until today. Additionally this political character was expressed even further with the participation of EDON in international brigades of voluntary work in socialist countries and countries of Latin America and also with the organization and hosting in Cyprus of 22 solidarity brigades with international anti-imperialist context.
Even though in the beginning of 2000 there were some setbacks in the line of this work of EDON, nevertheless the Organization despite the financial hardships continues to pay the necessary attention to it, mainly in recent years, by organizing and participating in solidarity brigades in Cuba, Lebanon and Palestine.
29. The educational and ideological guidance has always been at the centre of activity of the progressive youth movement. The goals of this ideological activity were the education of youth in the spirit of the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle and the ideals of democracy, peace, progress, internationalist solidarity with the peoples struggle. Additionally, a goal was the popularization of the political line of the Popular Movement and of the Marxist – Leninist ideology. This goal aimed at the creation of conscious militants and the resistance to the bourgeoisie ideological offensive and especially chauvinism and racism.
Depending on the historical period and the existing political priorities, the ideological work is promoted through various means and methods, like the ideological schools but also through the general education of the illiterate youth during the period of the Communist Youth of Cyprus; through schools, lectures, group studying for the struggle against illiteracy and the promotion of literature in the local base organizations during the period of AON. Since the foundation of EDON, this area of work is becoming more massive, upgraded and developed in a more organized way. Through the self education contests that are becoming an institution since 1959, the Pan-Cyprian Educational-Ideological Seminars, schools, lectures, various publications of EDON and of course through the columns of “Neolaia” newspaper, the members of EDON are furthering their ideological and political shield, in a way that on the one hand, they can embody the political line and the ideology of the Left and on the
other hand they can become the â€œpreachersâ€? of this political and ideological line to the wider layers of youth population.
30. During the years and until today EDON relies on the work of the thousands of volunteers of the Organization, who, remaining loyal to the values and the principles of the Left, never hesitated to support restlessly and selflessly the structure of EDON but also, on many occasions, to offer their most valuable good, their own lives.
31. Grounded on its militant traditions, EDON continues its struggle by the side of our people for the liberation from occupation, the policy of settlers and to achieve a peaceful solution to the Cyprus Problem that will reunite our country and its people. We continue with even more determination our struggle for a solution of Bizonal, Bicommunal Federation with political equality as it is described in the UN resolutions. A solution of a single state, single sovereignty and single nationality. A solution that will relieve Cyprus from the occupation, the settlers and all foreign dependencies. EDON will support every effort for a solution of the Cyprus problem that will have the correct direction on the basis of the long standing principles that the Greek Cypriot side supported. EDON persistently and timelessly has been an adversary of nationalism â€“ chauvinism, of obscurantism, fascism and the extreme right wing ideologies that are poisoning the relations of the two communities of Cyprus. EDON fought and continues to fight against the forces of surrender and US followers from the one side and on the other side against the maximalist, nationalist goals and pursuits. Parallel to this struggle, we continue to fight the Turkish and other imperialist agendas for upgrading the illegal state, something that will certainly lead to the finalization of the partition of our country. It is only this struggle and approach that can serve the vision and goal of a free, united, independent, sovereign, demilitarized, federated Cyprus, in which all of its children, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenian, Maronites, and Latins will be able to live in conditions of peace, security and prosperity.
32. For its rich and vanguard activity, for its contribution and sacrifices, EDON was embraced and is embraced by the youth of Cyprus. Because the Youth Organization of the Left was not created by coincidence. It was born by the needs and struggles of our youth and our people, expressing its genuine interests, its concerns, its aspirations and the visions of the youth of Cyprus.
The roots of EDON go deep into the hearts of the young people of this island, and it managed to win the trust of a large part of our youth but also the respect of a great majority of the Cypriot youth and people.
Under the difficult conditions created by the dissolution of the socialist countries where the supporters of capitalism were declaring the “end of history”; under conditions of a total attack of the plutocracy and the establishment against the consciousness –mainly- of the youth, EDON not only managed to survive, but in contrary, more and more young people are joining the lines of the Organization, embodying the principles and ideals of our socialist ideology by trusting their hopes and aspirations to EDON and the Left.
In the name of our heroes and the honoured history of our Organization, it is our minimum obligation to safeguard, as our most valuable asset, the political legacy which we inherited from our pioneer comrades; A legacy full of context, full of humanity, of selflessness and self-sacrifice. We persistently remain devoted to the ideals of our socialist ideology, to the principles of social justice, freedom, democracy and solidarity. We continue even more determined, with even more intensity, our class, social and political struggles, having as our only guidance the interests of the youth, the workers and our people.
Grounded on the militant traditions of the Communist Youth of Cyprus, of AON and EDON and drawing strength from the honoured past of our Organization, we proceed towards our visions for the future, following the path drawn by thousands of our comrades.