Address by the President of the Republic Mr Nicos Anastasiades at the Grand Banquet on the occasion of the 99th AHEPA Supreme Convention Athens
It is a distinct privilege to address this year’s AHEPA Supreme Convention and our distinguished diaspora members that have joined us from abroad.
I am also deeply touched and moved to be receiving by the largest and oldest Hellenic Heritage Organisation, its highest award: The “AHEPA Socrates Award”.
I consider this honour, which I humbly accept with sincere gratitude, as an honour to the country and the people that I represent and as the genuine appreciation to the long-standing struggles of Cypriot Hellenism for freedom, justice and independence.
Your decision on bestowing this Award dictates to continue with the same determination and persistence in fulfilling the duties and obligations I have assumed towards the people of Cyprus, with the most important being, none other, than the reunification of our divided island.
Today’s honour is of the greatest value if one considers that is awarded by an Association which has been successfully promoting and defending the ideals, values and principles of Hellenism for almost a century.
Since its establishment in 1922, AHEPA grew over the years from strength to strength and has not only tirelessly preserved the Greek language, identity and cultural heritage in the United States of America, but has managed to develop a truly inspiring charitable and humanitarian work which has led to a contribution of over one billion US dollars to worthy causes.
At the same time, AHEPA has assumed a key role in advancing the strategic partnership between Greece and Cyprus with the United States.
A partnership which carries profound geopolitical meaning and I am glad to attest has been significantly enriched in recent years, through a number of important initiatives and tangible deliverables.
Deliverables, such as, amongst many others, the Eastern Mediterranean Partnership Act, which establishes the institutional framework for energy and security cooperation between the USA and the trilateral synergy of Cyprus, Greece and Israel.
And it is no coincidence that I have referred to the said trilateral mechanism of cooperation, since I am aware that you will host tomorrow a Cyprus – Greece - Israel conference, with the aim of discussing current and evolving developments and challenges in our volatile region.
These are initiatives which we warmly welcome and support and once more highlight AHEPA’s contribution to promoting the shared interests and national causes of Hellenism, in respect of international law and the principle of good neighbourly relations.
And taking this opportunity, I would like to highlight the significance we attach on the US support, and your own contribution to this end, in further advancing this synergy, particularly through the 3+1 platform we have established with the States, as well as the US presence as an observer in the EastMed Gas Forum.
AHEPA’s 99th Supreme Convention coincides with the celebrations of the 200th Anniversary of the Greek War of Independence.
Fighting with courage and heroism, with the vision of freeing Greece from the slavery, oppression and tyranny they were suffering by the Ottoman rule, the Greeks succeeded in establishing their own independent and democratic state.
As we commemorate this historic milestone, Cyprus, being under Turkish military occupation for 47 consecutive years, recalls the Revolution’s ideas of freedom in our tireless efforts to reach a lasting and viable settlement.
A settlement that will establish a truly independent and sovereign state, as our Greek brothers envisioned 200 years ago, without any external interferences and third country guarantees.
In this respect, please allow me to convey my Government’s sincere appreciation to AHEPA for its steadfast support and significant contribution all those years, in promoting to the United States of America this common objective, of both Cyprus and Greece.
A support which is also extended to defending the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereignty and the exercise of its sovereign rights, free from unilateral and illegal actions by Turkey at sea and on the ground.
You are of course aware of the recent provocative announcements made by the Turkish President and the Turkish Cypriot leader in relation to changing the status of part of the fenced city of Famagusta.
An announcement which, aside the obvious fact that it is in blatant violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, took place despite the repeated calls by the international community, including the USA, to reverse this course of action and avoid raising new tensions.
Our power to defend our national interests and the values of Hellenism lies in our unity.
That is why, in close consultation with the Greek Government, we succeeded in achieving a strong condemnation by the UN Security Council and the EU of Turkey’s actions, calling for their reversal.
And taking this opportunity, I do call on AHEPA to once more exert its influence and leverage to the US Government, in order to once more promote our just cause, so as, finally, to be impressed upon Turkey that there cannot be any discounts as regards the implementation of international law.
That Turkey’s policy of intimidation cannot continue and we simply cannot remain idle to developments that torpedo our efforts o resume the negotiating process with real prospects of success.
That this step-by-step approach, based on testing the limits and reactions of the international community, vis-à-vis Famagusta, should not be tolerated.
Εκ μέρους της Κυβέρνησης, αλλά και του λαού της Κύπρου, θα ήθελα για ακόμη μια φορά να μεταφέρω την ειλικρινή μας ευγνωμοσύνη για τις άοκνες προσπάθειες σας τα τελευταία 47 χρόνια και όχι μόνο, στην προώθηση των εθνικών συμφερόντων της Κύπρου και 99 χρόνια ολόκληρου του Ελληνισμού.
Θα ήθελα να σας διαβεβαιώσω πως η Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία θα συνεχίσει να σας στηρίζει με όλους τους δυνατούς τρόπους, ώστε να προωθήσετε περαιτέρω του κοινούς και ευγενείς μας στόχους.
Ολοκληρώνοντας, και ευχαριστώντας για ακόμη μια φορά την ΑΗΕΡΑ για τη σημερινή τιμή και την υπέροχη εκδήλωση, επιτρέψετε μου να μοιραστώ δύο αποφθέγματα από τον Σωκράτη, μια από τις σημαντικότερες προσωπικότητες του ελληνικού και παγκόσμιου πνεύματος και πολιτισμού.
Αποφθέγματα που πιστεύω ενσωματώνουν και συνοψίζουν την ουσία και φιλοσοφία της ΑHEPA:
«Δεν είμαι Αθηναίος ούτε Έλληνας, είμαι Πολίτης του Κόσμου».
«Από τη μητέρα και τον πατέρα και όλους τους άλλους προγόνους, η πατρίδα είναι πράγμα πολυτιμότερο και σεβαστότερο και αγιότερο και ανώτερο και κατά τη γνώμη των θεών και κατά τη γνώμη των ανθρώπων που έχουν φρόνηση».
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