New York.- by Apostolis Zoupaniotis
The positive course and high prestige that the Cypriot Federation of America enjoys in the Greek American community, Cyprus and Greece and decision making centres in Washington, were highlighted during its 38th National Convention in New York on Saturday, that was organised in New York, on April 17.
Archbishop Demetrios of America attended the convention while the Cypriot government was represented by Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus Nicolas Emiliou. Health Minister Christos Patsalides could not attend due to the cancellation of flights from Europe.
The greek government was represented by Deputy Foreign Spyros Kouvelis while representatives of the Greek Parliament including Elpida Tsouri, Chrysa Arapoglou, Ioannis Tragakis, Spyros Taliadouros, Kyriakos Velopoulos and Gregoris Psarianos as well as the ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus in the US were present.
During the convention, the federation honoured veteran Cypriot and founding member of the Lambousa association, Aris Demetriou from Karavas as well as the federation’s long standing cashier, Nicos Neokleous.
Archbishop Demetrios conveyed the greetings of the Ecumenical Patriarch who wishes to be informed on the latest developments on Cyprus.
He said «even though we are celebrating the resurrection, the crucifixion continues in Cyprus and Greece. The Greek Orthodox leader in the US expressed hope that time will bring resurrection in both Cyprus and Greece.
Referring to the Cyprus issue, he said the Annan plan is an example of the anomaly regarding the issue. He pointed out that Americans and Europeans are trying to find pseudo solutions which end up in pseudo plans. We underline to them that they must change these tactics because the people should not be presented with unacceptable solutions».
In his speech, Kouvelis thanked the overseas Cypriots for their struggles to defend the rights and needs of Cypriot Hellenism and Hellenism in general.
He recalled Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s recent visit to Cyprus, noting that «the Cyprus issue is at a crucial point». Repeating Greece’s support for Cyprus, Kouvelis said that the «solution to the Cyprus issue, clearly, should be based on Security Council resolutions, the principles and values of the EU and full implementation of the aquis. This is a message we keep repeating and make clear at every opportunity and possibility that the Cyprus issue is not a bilateral matter but an international, international law issue and a matter of occupation».
On the recent developments, Kouvelis said progress that has been achieved during the negotiations is not the one we desired. «There is a lot ground to be achieved and for this patience is required, realism and not to forget the final aim». He also cited Turkey’s role, noting that it is up to her to achieve its own EU course because these things are interrelated.
Speaking on behalf of the Greek Parliament, New Democracy MP Ioannis Tragakis said the efforts of all should be to support the official position of the Cypriot government. The efforts should aim at a fair and viable solution, that is in line with UN resolutions, he said, noting that «we must all undertake our responsibilities, remain united towards Hellenism and Cypriot Hellenism, whichever party we represent».
Permanent Representative of the Cypriot Foreign Ministry Nicolas Emiliou conveyed the greetings of the Cypriot President and the Foreign Minister. On the current developments, he said the negotiating procedure has been currently suspended due to the illegal elections held on Sunday in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus.
Referring to the last meeting held on 30th March and the joint statement which was issued, he said it expresses the political commitment of both leaders to work towards a solution to the Cyprus issue.
He pointed out that the statement does not imply an interim agreement but is simply a declaration of political will of both leaders to exhaust every effort for a solution. Emiliou referred to President of the Republic Demetris Christofias’ initiatives, citing his recent proposal for an international conference on Cyprus with the participation of the five permanent members of the Security Council, Greece, Turkey, the Republic of Cyprus and both communities, to discuss and solve the international aspects of the Cyprus issue. This proposal, he added, is a reply to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s proposal for a four-party conference.
The second initiative, Emiliou added, is the proposal on Famagusta which the President is bringing back, noting that the high level agreement of 1979 and UN Resolutions clearly point out that the international community should persuade Turkey to agree in experts entering the town, allowing them to draw up a plan for the reconstruction and return to its lawful residents.
Emiliou also referred to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on the illegal property commission in the Turkish occupied north and the EU regulation concerning direct trade with the Turkish occupied north.
On the ECHR decision, he said it should be viewed in its entirety and for the first time, an institution makes it clear that Turkey is the occupation force and has responsibility for everything happening in the north.
Regarding the regulation on direct trade that has come up again due to the procedure to implement the Lisbon Convention that gives greater authority to the European Parliament, Emiliou said that the Cyprus government disagrees with the Commission’s view that is based on international commerce with third countries because the occupied areas are not a third country but part of the EU.
We will object this measure both at the Parliament and the Council, Emiliou underlined.
Federation’s Chairman Panicos Papanicolaou said the federation is on a good course and is in a position to support cultural, sports and other charity activities of its associations.He said that the federation continues to be present at all associations’ activities and maintains excellent relations with the Archbishopric of America and AHEPA.
Papanicolaou also said that the main part of the federation’s activities this year concentrated on promoting the Cyprus issue and for this reason, leading members visited Washington on a number of occassions for contacts with the US adminstration, members of the Congress and also visited Greece and Cyprus.
«Following Barack Obama’s election, we have better access to the US administration, noting that the fededration is working closely with PSEKA and its president Philip Christopher.
On his part, PSEKA chairman Philip Christopher praised the work of the federation, noting he is getting ready to hand over the leadership to the younger generation.
Concerning developments, he said that a year into Obama’s presidency, the enthusiasm of overseas Greeks has abated and we are now at the same position as before. «With friends in Congress such as senator Menendez we have managed to maintain pressure on the Cyprus issue,» he added.
Christopher said that although they feel encouraged after contacts with the State Department, the activity of the US embassy in Nicosia is negative. «It would be good if the positive things they proclaim become action», he underlined.
Greece’s ambassador to the US Vasilis Kaskarelis expressed the gratitude of the Greek government to the Cypriot Federation of America and PSEKA.
He also referred to the developments in Cyprus noting that any progress achieved should not be lost due to a possible change in the leadership in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus.
Cyprus’ Ambassador to the US Andreas Kakouris praised the Federation and PSEKA for their struggles for Cyprus. He also conveyed the gratitude of Cypriot President Demetris Christofias.