Nicosia.- By Antonios Gkildakis/CNA
The next six months will be crucial with regards to the efforts for a Cyprus settlement, the leadership of Overseas Cypriots believes, while pointing to developments in Turkey, the US Presidential elections and Brexit.
Speaking after the conclusion of 8th World Conference of the Organization of Young Overseas Cypriots (NEPOMAK) and the 26th meeting of the Central Council of the World Federation of Overseas Cypriots and International Coordinating Committee`s “Justice for Cyprus” POMAK – PSEKA, in Nicosia, leaders of the diaspora also welcomed developments in the energy sector, with the participation of energy giants in the third licensing round of Cyprus` exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
PSEKA President Philip Christopher has noted in particular that the State Department has had a positive role in inducing the interest of Exxon, a US company.
Present during the press conference was the Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Overseas Cypriots, Fotis Fotiou, who warned over the future role of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP).
The next six months will be crucial concerning our efforts for Cyprus, said Christopher. He added that the present US administration has another six months to go, before the next President takes over and noted that the diaspora will try to play a role in this.
He noted that a change is looming over the established US foreign policy, which has traditionally favored Turkey.
Asked which candidate he prefers to be the next US President, Christopher responded that we must work with both Republicans and Democrats.
He added that he has known Hillary Clinton, since her tenure at the State Department. Trump does not have particular knowledge of the Cyprus issue, “but he will learn about it in the next six months,” the President of PSEKA has added.
Speaking on energy developments, Christopher said that US Ambassador in Cyprus Kathleen Doherty has helped a lot for US companies to express their interest for Cyprus` EEZ while “the State Department has helped with Exxon, which is very positive”.
The goal is to attract more companies, since a good economy will also strengthen Cyprus` foreign policy, Christopher concluded.
Taking the floor, Andreas Papaevripides of POMAK referred on his part to the impact of Brexit, noting that the community in the UK has to begin from scratch building up relations with the new government.
Apart from our historical ties, we will put our weight in conveying the right stance which Britain needs to assume vis-à-vis Cyprus, as well as with regards to Turkey, he added.
Papaevripides said Overseas Cypriots are departing from Cyprus with a sense of optimism, mainly for two reasons. Although there is still a long way to go, the financial situation is improving, while new prospects are opening up in energy matters, he noted.
On the Cyprus issue, he said that dealing with Turkey is not an easy task, due to its government’s unpredictability, while the domestic situation is worrying to all with a potential role for a Cyprus solution.
The meeting that will be held on Friday between President Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci is decisive, Papaevripides went on, noting that it will reflect whether there is room for a settlement. Let`s hope that something good will emerge from this meeting, he added.
The leaders` meeting to be held under UN auspices, on Friday, is the first to initiate a discussion on the issues of security and guarantees, which have not yet been touched upon at the negotiations.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN-led talks between President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci have been underway since May 2015, aiming to reunify the island under a federal roof.
NEPOMAK President Antonia Savvides said on her part that this year`s conference with 80 delegates was the largest ever held.
She added that 2016 was a busy and productive year and pledged to keep up the momentum, in order to make a difference, both for Cyprus and for young Overseas Cypriots.
Fotiou noted from his part that conference participants are returning home in order to continue their fight for Cyprus during this crucial time.
Asked about efforts to find the remains of more missing persons, Fotiou said that this is a humanitarian issue that needs a different handling from the one that existed so far.
He said that Overseas Cypriots have a crucial role to play and warned that in case the absence of progress persists in the Turkish occupied areas, with regards to the discovery of remains belonging to Greek Cypriots and Greeks, then the functioning of the CMP will run into problems.
We support the CMP as a tool to resolve this matter, but if zero discoveries continue then “the CMP will have no role to play” Fotiou concluded.