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13 June, 2024
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Sophia Vassiliou: Paying it forward

As a member of Cyprus' newest political party, Sophia Vassiliou gracefully navigates the intersections of family legacy, political passion, and the VOLT movement, while striving to pay it forward

Shemaine Bushnell Kyriakides

As the European elections draw near, Cyprus finds itself amidst the emergence of a new political entity: VOLT. This dynamic party brings a breath of fresh air to our political landscape, championing progressive ideals and a steadfast dedication to European unity. Amidst its ranks stands Sophia Vasiliou, affectionately known as 'Fofo' among her circle of friends. Sophia's journey into politics is deeply rooted in her upbringing in Nicosia, where she was raised by her parents, former Cyprus President George Vassiliou and former European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. Immersed in a household steeped in public service, Sophia's upbringing was a testament to the importance of giving back to her community. Inspired by her parents' ethos of leading by example, Sophia carries forward their legacy of service and compassion. With a fervent desire to combat corruption and enact positive change, Sophia has found her calling within the transformative ranks of VOLT. In this exclusive interview, Sophia shares her personal journey into politics, her unwavering vision for the future of Cyprus, and what distinguishes VOLT as a catalyzing force in European politics.

Q: What exactly are you running for?

A: I am running for a member of the European Parliament with the party of VOLT, which is a pan-European party spanning 31 different countries. My decision to run stems from my deep-rooted belief in serving the people and addressing the issues facing our country.

Q: How many members do you have in the party?

A: While I'm not privy to the exact number, VOLT was established in Cyprus three months ago, and these elections mark our first participation. It's a movement of change that I'm excited to be a part of.

Q: Why did you decide to run now?

A: Politics has always been a part of my life given my family's history of activism and involvement. But I felt a strong urge to step up now because I see many pressing issues like corruption and mismanagement that need urgent attention. I see Cyprus is moving backward instead of forward. It's not about politics; it's about making a difference.

Q: What's your stance on the Cyprus problem?

A: Our party supports a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation as the only viable solution to the Cyprus problem. There is no plan B.  And it's not just about politics; it's about bringing people together and fostering unity for a better future.

Q: What about your platform on the environment?

A: Protecting the environment is a cause close to my heart. We are fully committed to the green transition and support initiatives like solar energy. However, the green transition needs to be done in a way that safeguards the well-being of all people.  As a person, I've always had a deep connection with nature, and I believe in preserving it for future generations.

Q: How do you address the immigration issue?

A: Immigration is a complex issue that requires a collective European approach. It is not something that can be tackled by our country on its own.  There is a pressing need for significant reforms, including the equitable redistribution of migrants across all EU nations, instead of burdening the initial entry countries alone.  Procedures must be quick, effective and humane.

As a yoga therapist, I've learned the importance of empathy and compassion, which are values I bring to my political work. We must treat migrants with dignity and respect while also addressing the root causes of migration.

Q: What sets VOLT apart from other parties?

A: VOLT's unique position as a pan-European party allows us to think beyond national boundaries and tackle issues on a European scale.  Moreover, it is the only bi-communal party in Cyprus.  We're not just about Cyprus; we're part of a bigger movement to make Europe better. Our members are mostly young folks who weren't involved with other parties in Cyprus before, bringing new ideas and energy to our team.  Every person who is part of VOLT shares the same values and dreams about our country and society.

Q: What do you do for work?

A: I have been practicing market research as a qualitative research expert for over 25 years. However, I have now transitioned into a full-time yoga therapist. This career shift was a conscious decision that aligned with my values and passions, enabling me to directly impact people's lives.

Q: And finally, do you think having the journalist and former presidential aide-turned-whistleblower Makarios Drousiotis can help your cause, given his rocky background?

A: Makarios Droushiotis is a passionate anti-corruption advocate, and his dedication aligns with VOLT's mission to bring about positive transformation in Cyprus.

Cyprus  |  Europe  |  politics  |  elections

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