Address by the Presidential Commissioner, Mr Photis Photiou, at the decoration of the “Missing Persons Christmas Tree”, in the UK
Christmas is a season of meaning and traditions, celebrating the birth of Christ. It is a moment to reflect also on our blessings and seek ways to make life better for those around us.
As Tom Baker (the English writer and actor) wisely said “Some Christmas tree ornaments do a lot more than glitter and glow, they represent a gift of love given a long time ago.”
Today is a day of hope for peace. A day full of universal messages.
The gratitude and appreciation we have for the support of our youth Diaspora is enormous. And we are truly proud of the devotion and patriotism you display at every opportunity. But we are also proud of your achievements here in the UK and the achievements of others in their countries of residence. With the successes achieved, as well as with your substantial contribution to the development of local communities, you promote our national identity, culture and civilization, thus forming the continuation of the dynamic presence of our Diaspora.
You are the leaders of tomorrow; the people we can count on to promote common values, goals and collective interests in one of the key decision-making centres abroad.
Your initiative that has brought us together today to decorate this Christmas tree dedicated to our missing persons, is an expression and a symbol of your support, solidarity and commitment to the families of the missing persons, who continue to live on a daily basis the tragedy of the disappearance of their loved ones.
This initiative focuses on a humanitarian issue. It is an expression of your genuine feelings of solidarity, respect and consideration towards these families. Eventhough, as youth of our Diaspora you did not live through the war in 1974, with such initiatives and poignant actions you have shown that you will “never forget”.
I commend you for your tireless support and give credit to all of you for this initiative.
The tapestry of emotions, whether sadness, frustration, bitterness and even anger dominate our feelings when we recall the tragedy of the missing persons and their families in Cyprus. A tragedy and a gaping open wound affecting thousands of Cypriot families for nearly half a century.
The list of missing persons includes ordinary men, women, children, grandfathers, grandmothers and military personnel who disappeared or were arrested during and after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
The disappearance of these persons continues to cause immeasurable suffering and pain to thousands of families in my country. Young children grew up and are now themselves parents without knowing the fate of their father. Wives, very young in 1974, have grown old in sorrow, longing for their husbands and still worse, mothers and fathers have passed away not ever knowing the fate of their loved ones. The agony, uncertainty and the drama of these families continues unabated. The passage of time does not in any way diminish or erode the suffering brought about by ‘not knowing’.
It is wholly unacceptable and inhuman that the tragedy of the missing persons in Cyprus still exists. Why? For no other reason because of the refusal of Turkey to cooperate sincerely and constructively to solve even this purely humanitarian issue.
The genuine cooperation and help of Turkey is not only essential but a prerequisite for achieving progress even after so many decades. It is high time for Turkey, at last, to take the necessary political and humanitarian steps.
To all present this morning, at this symbolic and poignant gathering, I take this opportunity to kindly request your help in whatever way you consider appropriate, here in the United Kingdom, to assist the efforts to solve the tragedy of the missing persons for the sake of the families concerned.
Human rights after all have meaning and relevance. They should do they must do and have to be applied to address and remedy human suffering and injustice. Sadly this remains elusive and has not happened yet in my country especially for the families of the missing persons. The key remains in Ankara.
In ending let me thank again the organizers of today’s event; the President and members of NEPOMAK & POMAK UK, the President and members of the Central Council of POMAK & NEPOMAK Global, the President and members of the Organization of Relatives of Missing Cypriots in UK, and the thousands of young people of our Diaspora.
Finally my thanks and appreciation go to His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas for allowing this important event to take place within the grounds of All Saints Church.
Please accept my best wishes to you and your families for the Holiday Season.
Note: The address was delivered by the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Andreas S. Kakouris.
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