The deliberations of the World Conference of Overseas Cypriots began
The deliberations of the World Conference of Overseas Cypriots by the World Federation of Overseas Cypriots (POMAK), the International Coordinating Committee “Justice for Cyprus” (PSEKA) and the Youth of the World Federation of Overseas Cypriots (NEPOMAK), hosted in Cyprus from 26/7/2022 to 29/7/2022, have begun.
The deliberations of the Conference were declared, last night at Lefkosia Municipal Theatre.
In his address, delivered by the Minister of Interior, Mr Nicos Nouris, President Anastasiades stressed the importance of young Cypriots’ participation in the events that preceded and follow the Conference, which can only fill us with pride and optimism, since it is in the young generation we invest in order to continue the multifaceted action and important contribution of the Greek Cypriot overseas communities to Cyprus.
During the opening ceremony, Presidential Commissioner, Mr Photis Photiou, welcomed the delegated, while the President of the House of Representatives, Ms Annita Demetriou, Archbishop Chrysostomos II and the Deputy Minister of Education and Religious Affairs of the Hellenic Republic, Ms Zetta M. Makri, addressed the ceremony. The President of POMAK, Mr Andreas Papaevripides, the President of PSEKA, Mr Philip Christopher and the President of NEPOMAK, Mr Christos Tuton, also addressed the ceremony. In addition, a televised message by Senator – Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the USA, Mr Robert Menendez, was delivered.
The ceremony included an artistic program and the screening of a film by the new Diaspora generation, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary since the foundation of NEPOMAK. The presentation of a poem dedicated to Cypriots of the Diaspora entitled “Children of the Diaspora”, followed. The ceremony ended with a reception hosted by the Presidential Commissioner.
Welcoming the delegates, the Presidential Commissioner expressed deep gratitude for the multifaceted contribution of the Cypriots of the Diaspora at a political, social and cultural level, but especially in terms of promoting our positions on the national issue and strengthening our relations with governments and other decision centres in the countries where they reside, at a time when Turkey, with its provocative and illegal actions, creates instability in the region and violates international law.
Mr Photiou referred to the presence of a large number of young people in our Diaspora today. “120 young people of the Diaspora, from many countries, are with us to celebrate together the 20 years since the founding of NEPOMAK,” he said. The issues that concern our young expatriates are of particular importance to us; both by providing programs to encourage their involvement in the community events and in the political events of their countries of residence, as well as by providing programs of their most frequent contact and acquaintance with Cyprus, emphasizing learning our language, our history and culture.
Referring to the operation of the Online Platform of Diaspora Cypriots, Mr Photiou pointed out that this is a multi-tool aimed at eliminating distances and enabling direct communication and meaningful cooperation with them. It is the means by which the Cypriots of the Diaspora, especially those of the second and third generation and the younger ones will be able to come closer to their roots by using the means offered to them in learning the Greek language and deepening their knowledge of our history, traditions and culture. “The other big goal of this online platform is the quantitative and qualitative recording of our expatriates”, he said.
Referring to the national strategy, he stressed that its main focus is the close cooperation and the joint actions and initiatives we undertake with Greece and the multi-level cooperation developed with friend-countries on Diaspora issues. Strategically important, he noted, is the trilateral cooperation we have with Greece, Israel, Armenia and Egypt and the bilateral cooperation with Serbia and Romania. Mr Photiou said that a new trilateral cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Lebanon is already planned with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in September.
Mr Photiou made particular reference to the issue of the humanitarian problem of missing persons. In particular, he said: “48 years later and we are still looking for 785 Greek Cypriots and Greek missing persons. I beg you to step up your efforts in the governments and the powerful decision-making centres of your countries of residence, with the expectation that we will give answers to relatives who pass year after year, without knowing what happened to their loved ones. Time is the greatest enemy to solve this humanitarian problem and the occupying forces are to blame for this, concluded Mr Photiou.
In his address, the President of the Republic stressed that expatriates are the greatest ambassadors of our culture and history, of our national positions and rights.
He then made reference to the Cyprus problem and the efforts to resolve it, underlining that these efforts led to the involvement of the EU under an advisory role in the negotiations, to the first submission of maps by the Turkish Cypriot side for territorial adjustments, to the achievement of significant convergences in all chapters, apart from the chapter of Security and Guarantees, to the UN recording that this chapter was of decisive importance and without sufficient progress, no positive outcome in the efforts of a solution could be expected.
And he added: “Most importantly, through the multilateral conferences in Geneva and Crans Montana, we sat together and brought Turkey before its responsibilities and its role in ending the anachronistic system of guarantees and withdrawing its occupying troops.
And referring to Crans Montana, what we experienced once again was the repetition of Turkey’s longstanding positions on the perpetuation of guarantees and invasive rights, as well as the permanent presence of occupying troops.
And this is proved in the most clear and unequivocal way by publishing the relevant minutes that rejected the argument that the Greek Cypriot side was responsible for the setback of the talks.
As far as the current state of affairs is concerned, it must be seen in the light of the new geopolitical facts, as well as Turkey’s recent revisionism. A revisionism that leads Turkey, without any consequences, and I regret to stress this, to the invasion of Syria and violations of sovereign rights of countries in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, such as Iraq, the involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but equally to unacceptable threats against Greece, on the basis of groundless arguments.
A country that denies sanctions against Russia, a country that has distanced itself from NATO but still member states of the alliance want to continue supplying it with military equipment, a country that cooperates military with Russia while strengthening Ukraine’s defence, and at the same time, through the agreement on the export of Ukrainian grains, it presents itself as an honest mediator in Ukraine’s crisis.
This is an absurdity which, once again, demonstrates the anarchy of the international system and the fact that the attitudes of states are unfortunately determined on the basis of economic interests and not on what the United Nations Charter dictates.
Nevertheless, we insist and will continue to highlight the fundamental principles and values of international law for the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the members of the Organization, the predominance of peace and security, and the respect to the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all people.
And it is these principles that we highlighted in confronting Turkish revisionism, whether they concern violations in our Exclusive Economic Zone or the alteration of the status of the fenced off city of Ammochostos or Turkey’s recent claim that essentially confirms Ankara’s long-established goals for a two-state solution.
Making use of our status as a member state of the EU, of the alliances we have established with countries in the region and with the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, but also thanks to your assistance, we have succeeded in the international community’s condemn of the illegal actions of Turkey, with the clear position that Turkey’s proposals for a new form of solution contradict the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and cannot be accepted.
At the same time, we continue to take initiatives that prove our constructive position for the immediate resumption of dialogue through the submission of bold Confidence Building Measures and the acceptance of the appointment of an envoy or senior staff of the Secretariat to provide mobility to the processes.
And we will continue to insist that we will not compromise with the occupation, with the deprivation of the basic freedoms that every human being should enjoy unhinderedly.
We will continue to demonstrate that the reunification of our homeland is not only in the interest of the people of Cyprus but will also the benefit the entire international community, as a solution will undoubtedly have a very significant chain effect on the achievement and maintenance of a necessary environment of stability, security and peace in our region, strengthening at the same time the EU-Turkey, EU-NATO and Greek-Turkey relations.
As I have many times said, there is only one option for us: To achieve a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, leading to a functioning and sustainable state. A solution that will ensure the territorial integrity and full sovereignty of our homeland, will fully respect international law and the European acquis, and which will mainly free our country from occupation armies and anachronistic guarantees of subordination.
It is for this reason that I have repeatedly called on our Turkish Cypriot compatriots to abandon the impracticable claims that serve Ankara’s aspirations and to reflect on the prospects offered by the possibility of a solution that will reunite our country, restore and protect the interests of every Cypriot, European citizen and provide the opportunity of lasting peace and stable prospect of development and prosperity for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots”.
Addressing the event, the President of the House of Representatives, Ms Annita Demetriou, said that our expatriates know how to keep the homeland well-guarded, as a treasure, in their hearts and stressed that the House of Representatives aims to strengthen and deepen the relations of young expatriates with Cyprus, recognizing that the creation of meaningful ties is the best investment for our common future. “At the same time, it remains our priority to support our expatriates in the challenges they face, giving emphasis on issues such as the compensation for the impact of the pandemic, which unfortunately has hit the Cypriot community of the UK, as well as the consequences of Brexit”, she added.
In relation to the Cyprus problem, she said that Turkey’s criminal behaviour continues and is escalating, with the effort to create new fait accompli, with the attempt to settle the fenced area off Ammochostos, the threats of annexation of our occupied territories and the constant and gross violations of international and European law. “Against Turkish provocation and intransigence, unity, continuous struggle and commitment to the goal of the reunification of our country is required through a just solution, based on the principles of international law, UN resolutions and European principles and values, which will meet the expectations of all Cypriots”, she added and underlined that “in order to reach this goal we need close coordination of actions for the promotion of our country’s rights and turn of the Cyprus problem into an international issue. The Cypriot Diaspora has been strengthening these efforts over time, putting pressure on international decision-making centers, having achieved a many times a positive outcome on issues that concern our country.
The Deputy Minister of Education and Religious Affairs of the Hellenic Republic referred to the Cyprus problem, stressing that “48 years after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, we, Greeks and Cypriots, still today, struggle inside and outside our borders to demonstrate the illegal and contrary to every notion and expression of international law, behaviour of Turkey. We are faced with an unprecedented, provocative and obvious disregard of international norms. In the violation of human rights, we stand fully and indiscriminately united and committed to our common goal, which is none other than finding a just solution to the Cyprus problem. A solution that arises and is based on the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions. Ms Makri underlined, among other things, that 48 years later, the thousands of victims, the missing persons and their families demand and deserve vindication for the struggles and sacrifices of the Greek Cypriots and Greeks who defended territorial integrity, peace, freedom, culture.
In his message, Robert Menendez referred, among other things, to the Turkish invasion, underlining that since 1974 Turkey continues to illegally occupy the northern part of Cyprus. “The status quo in Cyprus is unacceptable, Turkish activity in Varosha is unacceptable, and Turkish human rights violations are unacceptable,” he said. Mr Menendez expressed his pride in leading Cyprus’ efforts in Washington, his readiness to stand by the country and his commitment to the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, to a bizonal, bi-communal federation solution and the security of the entire Eastern Mediterranean. “Turkey should stop provocation immediately,” he said.
Referring to the Turkish leader’s involvement in the recent rally in Tehran with the leaders of Russia and Iran, which are among the “worst brutal monarchs in the world”, he expressed the view that the US should not proceed with the sale of F-16 fighters to President Erdogan. “The complete lifting of outdated restrictions on U.S. arms exports to Cyprus is a priority,” he said. Mr Menendez also mentioned that Cyprus is a nation that shares the democratic values of the US and said that the two countries should continue to work together for a future that protects human rights and the rule of law, should continue to fight side by side to keep the Eastern Mediterranean safe and should continue to strengthen their cooperation by building ties.
In his address, delivered by Metropolitan George of Pafos, Archbishop Chrysostomos II referred, among other things, to the Church’s contributions on the national issue, noting that experience showed that continuous concessions do not the conqueror, nor lead him to compromise. “The problem of Cyprus should therefore be posed as a problem of invasion and occupation and we must relentlessly claim what the rest of the Europeans and the free world enjoy — free movement, free establishment, acquisition of property throughout our country”, he said. Immigration has also evolved in a major problem that directly threatens our national survival, he added, pointing out that we should work systematically to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants into the Republic and urge the return of those who have already entered illegally to their countries of origin. In conclusion, he stressed the importance that must be attributed to our defensive armor and the need for renewal of our weapons systems.
In his address, Pomak President Andreas Papaevripides expressed his thanks to President Anastasiades and the Government for having stood beside them and offered a lot to solve the problems they faced in matters of education, information on the Cyprus problem, passports, etc. Also, referring to today’s visit by a group of representatives of the Federations to the air base in Pafos, he expressed the pride on behalf of all of them for the high level and the deterrent capacity of the National Guard. Speaking about the Cyprus problem, he pointed out that “it is time for our Turkish Cypriot compatriots to get out of lethargy and realise that for their own interest they should be released from Turkey and cooperate to achieve a just and functional solution that ensures lasting peace and prosperity in an EU member state, without anachronistic guarantees and invasive rights”.
In his address, PSEKA President Philip Christopher thanked the Commissioner for the creation of a service for expatriates. Mr Christopher referred to a parallel between the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and underlined that now is the opportunity to cooperate together and propose a strategic, detailed plan on how to resolve the Cyprus problem. “Given Turkey’s foreign policy, given Mr Erdogan’s actions in Iran, given that on one side the democratic principles prevail, given the fact that the positions of Greece and Cyprus have been upgraded and both countries are considered serious partners of the United States, this is the right time to propose a concrete plan for a solution that refers to energy issues, the EEZ, NATO membership, the defence of democratic values and the Western world”, he underlined.
Finally, NEPOMAK President Christos Tuton, addressing the ceremony, referred to the action of NEPOMAK, which since its inception to date connects Cypriot young people of the Diaspora with their heritage and cultural identity, creates close and long-lasting ties between members around the world and proudly supports the people and government of Cyprus in the fair struggle for a free, reunited island.
Relevant Press Releases
The President of the Republic met with the Prime Minister of Greece