31 January 2014 12:56

Solidarity among European Union member states is not a one-way street, the president of the Socialist and Democrat group in the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda, told The Cyprus Daily on Thursday.
"I have to defend many of the measures for Greece and Cyprus to my countrymen who say we have to be in solidarity but why do we have to pay," added the Austrian parliamentarian, who flew to Cyprus for last night's "Re-launching Europe" public debate in Nicosia.
"So everyone sees it from his angle. The crisis in Cyprus did not happen in one night. The (former) President here did not want to spoil his (six-month rotating EU) Presidency. If they had acted a year or even six months earlier, the crisis could have been softer, not soft but softer," he added.
Swoboda also said that both in Cyprus and in Europe there is growing disillusion among citizens because of the prevailing economic hardships.
But he doesn't expect this to result in any unprecedented apathy and abstention from voting in May's Euro elections.
"I see more discussion not more apathy in the upcoming elections. Of course, the discussion contains more criticism and this is because no one explained in Cyprus what went on, no one explained in Europe what went on," he said.
"No one is explaining what and why what is happening is happening. Because a European explanation could only come from a European politician and the European politician is the Commission president. Many politicians don't explain, even local politicians don't explain," he added.
Both the Commission and Council presidents had the obligation to go and speak to the people, he added.
Asked which political party in Cyprus the Alliance would support in May considering that socialist Edek is strongly affiliated with the Socialist group but centre Diko is also a member of the Coalition,  he said: "We are not campaigning for them, we are discussing with citizens. We support both. But of course our relationship with Edek is a bit closer but even so that doesn't mean we don't support other people".
He added: "We support Mr Kasoulides (Cyprus' Foreign Minister)  in his efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem."
Swoboda then argued that the EU should open a couple of new chapters in Turkey's accession process, despite Nicosia's opposition due to of Ankara's refusal to abide by protocol provisions.
"How can we expect Turkey to respect human rights and civil rights when we don't open up these chapters for discussion? We need to seriously sit down and discuss these issues with Turkey," he said.
"And of course demand from Turkey to respect protocol provisions," he added.


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