Address by the Presidential Commissioner Mr. Photis Photiou on the 36th Annual Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference
Strengthening US-Cyprus Relations in the face of Turkish Intransigence
The 47th dark Anniversary of Turkey’s illegal invasion and continued occupation
It is a distinct honor to be here, online with you, at the 36th Annual Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference.
Let me first commend PSEKA and the organizers (Philip, Andy and Mike) and all contributors for this brilliant initiative and thank them for the opportunity to participate.
Forty-seven years ago, this day, Turkey invaded Cyprus, violating basically all known rules of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations.
From a humanitarian point of view, probably the most tragic consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus is the missing persons. During and after the Turkish invasion, thousands of Greek-Cypriots were arrested and held in concentration camps in Cyprus by Turkish soldiers and paramilitaries, operating under the Turkish army.
I take this opportunity to thank all Diaspora leaders and key-policymakers on the Hill for their active engagement in promoting legislation on the matter. Forty-seven years since the Turkish invasion, around eight hundred people are still missing – two of them American citizens. Regrettably, progress on this serious problem during the past few years is disappointing, to say the least. Time is running out. I feel that at this critical juncture, the need for the US to assume a more active involvement and humanitarian initiatives is urgent, than ever before.
We highly value US interest and active involvement in recent years in the efforts to end tensions, in order to be able to resume negotiations to achieve a comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus Question.
Earlier today, we were all witnessing the escalation of the provocative actions of Turkey in the fenced area of Varosha. As you are all well aware, any action on the ground towards a direction opposite from the transfer of the area to the administration of the UN so as to allow for the return of the lawful inhabitants of the area to their homes is a violation of the provisions of the relevant UN SC Resolutions.
Ladies and gentlemen,
During these past years the relationship between Cyprus and the US has significantly strengthened both at the bilateral and multilateral level. There is a growing political desire and commitment to deepen and broaden our ties with the United States, in all areas. It is important that we carry this momentum forward, to the benefit of our countries and peoples.
The role of the organized Diaspora, as a pressure group in major decision-making centers around the World, and especially in Washington D.C., remains indispensible and of great importance.
We owe them a great debt for continuing the preservation of our identity, for promoting our rich culture, history and traditions in the US, as well as for sending the clear message that Cyprus remains one of the most predictable, reliable and stable partners of the US in the key region of the eastern Mediterranean.
Thank you once again for today’s event and your warm and supportive messages.
I wish to assure you that the Government of Cyprus, and myself, will continue supporting and strengthening the active engagement of our Diaspora in the enhancement of the bilateral ties between Cyprus and the US, in all possible ways so that we further advance our common objectives.
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