Limassol.- (CNA) – The 14th congress of Overseas Cypriots was concluded on Friday in Limassol, with the re-election of Philip Christopher as President of the International Coordinating Committee – Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA). Savvas Tsivicos was re-elected alternate President and Tassos Zambas Vice President for US. On Wednesday the delegates from around the world re-elected Harry Sofoklides from the United Kingdom President of the World Federation of Overseas Cypriots (POMAK). Panicos Papanicolaou and Andreas Comodromos from US were re-elected Vice President and Treasurer, respectively.
The opening ceremony took place in Nicosia on Tuesday, in the presence of President of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, Foreign Minister George Iacovou, representatives of the Cypriot Political Parties, Greek Vice Minister Takis Skandalakis and members of the Greek Parliament.
Speaking at a press conference, on Wednesday, upon the conclusion of the Congress, Philip Christopher said that the negative climate that was created after the rejection by the Greek Cypriots of the Annan Plan, is reversed.
PSEKA leader Philip Christopher said overseas Cypriots worked hard this past year and were able to “neutralize the vicious propaganda and public relations campaign of Turkey, led by two powerful congressmen”.
He said he hoped that the conference will conclude with a united voice that “we can now say that if the Annan Plan is not dead, it needs substantive changes to make it viable”.
Addressing the conference, POMAK president Sofoklides referred to the efforts of overseas Cypriots in the UK and the US to achieve a change in their pro-turkish policy, as he said, noting that in the “past months we have ascertained an understanding and a small shift in their positions”.
“As American, British and European voters we can make full use of the contacts, power and influence we have”, he said, noting that “we will continue tirelessly to stress that the Annan Plan was rejected because it contained divisive provisions that serve only Turkey and not the interests of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and that we want talks to begin the soonest, without deadlines and a tight framework or arbitration and we will accept only an agreed solution”.
SAE leader Andrew Athens, in his remarks said, “internationally, we have experienced many signs of progress supported by those who recognise the righteousness of our cause, both in the EU and in Washington”.
However, he said “in Washington, we have experienced a diminishing of the effectiveness of our organised efforts”. Athens underlined that the experiment of assigning the lobbying effort to non-Hellenes has produced no results; in fact it has lowered our effectiveness, even within Congress were we have traditionally enjoyed steady support”.
In his opening remarks, President of the World Organisation for Young Overseas Cypriots (NEPOMAK) Menicos Kouvaros said “the sustainability of NEPOMAK’s growth and level of activity requires a steadfast commitment from POMAK, its members federations and the government of Cyprus”.
To this end, he added, “we urge POMAK and its member organisations, at this conference, to consider and resolve upon long term methods to incentivise and fund their affiliated youth organisations”.
He also thanked the government of Cyprus for its ongoing support, even in harder times. “The broader challenge of sustainability of our communities as a whole, is the gauntlet which NEPOMAK throws down to the delegates of POMAK at this, its 14th World conference” Kouvaros concluded.
Congress approved the reports of various POMAK committees. Specifically, the report of the committee for POMAK’s operation, its international relations and cooperation with NGOs stresses the need for greater coordination. It also notes that every overseas federation must operate on a regional level the way it believes it is more effective.
The committee submitted a proposal to set up four subcommittees that will deal with the Council of Europe, a Forum for Human Rights, a European Forum and the UN Committee.
The Congress unanimously approved the report on communication with the diaspora and satellite services. The fundamental aim of the report is to help provide the CyBC signal to all continents and to continually upgrade the programmes’ standard.
Furthermore, it points out the need for Cypriot newspapers to upgrade their websites by adding archives.
The committee of the Diaspora education and cultural matters is calling for additional educational missions and the prompt dispatch of educational material overseas.
The committee dealing with issues of Overseas Cypriots with government services, in its report, welcomed the President of the Republic’s assurance that the vacant positions at the Overseas Cypriots’ Division will be filled. However it notes the absence of legislation for a special fund in the state budget for issues faced by repatriated Cypriots.
Meanwhile, a panel discussion on communication and overseas Cypriots was held yesterday with representatives from the Cyprus News Agency, the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation and the Press and Information Office.
On behalf of CyBC, Director General Marios Mavrikios said that the corporation is making efforts to expand its programmes beyond Europe, noting that the issue needs to be thoroughly examined.
He said CyBC is continually improving programmes regarding information, culture and the youth while its website is being upgraded too.
PIO Director Yiannakis Solomou said his office is upgrading its services and new material will be sent to overseas Cypriots while a documentary on Cyprus will be prepared in a DVD format and will be sent overseas.
He called on overseas Cypriots to inform the PIO on their cultural activities in their countries.
CNA Chief Editor George Penintaex said the Agency is making a continuous effort to make full use of the internet so services and news items are accessible to all overseas Cypriots and their respective media.
He announced that CNA aims to expand and further improve its services in Greek, English and Turkish and said that it sends out daily to the diaspora three bulletins.