Nicosia.- (GreekNewsOnline, CNA)
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a central coordinating body for American Jewry representing 50 national Jewish organizations, visited Cyprus last week, as part of its 2017 Leadership Mission.
AHEPA Chairman of the Board Nicholas A. Karacostas and AHEPA Executive Director Basil Mossaidis, along with American Hellenic Institute President Nick Larigakis were part of the delegation and attended a series of one-day events that included meetings with: President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulidis, Defense Minister Christoforos Fokaides, and Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis, who is the Greek Cypriot negotiator for the Cyprus issue, among other officials. U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Kathleen Doherty also attended events.
“We thank Supreme President Zachariades for the opportunity to represent AHEPA today,” Karacostas said. “We were pleased to welcome and join our colleagues for their important visit to Cyprus.”
He added, “We are proud to provide continued diaspora support and encouragement for advancing the trilateral relationship between Cyprus, Israel, and Greece, which lends stability to the eastern Mediterranean region. We are especially grateful to President Anastasiades, and all of the Cypriot government officials with whom we met, for the time they afforded us that helped to make this one-day mission a success.”
The delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, with AHEPA and AHI, visited Cyprus at the invitation of Presidential Commissioner for Overseas Cypriots Photis Photiou. During the meeting, at the Presidential Palace, Photiou noted that the example of cooperation between the respective Diaspora organizations in the United States is “phenomenal and praiseworthy”.
He also said that during the Israel – Greece – Cyprus Trilateral Summit in Jerusalem last December it was agreed that the three countries would encourage a trilateral gathering between the representatives of the Diaspora organizations in order to plan future cooperation. This meeting will probably take place in Cyprus this summer, according to Photiou. Before that, another meeting will take place on March 7, in Jerusalem, to assess the progress achieved and plan future initiatives.
In January 2016, AHEPA, the American Hellenic Institute, B’nai B’rith International, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations completed their second Leadership Mission to Israel, Cyprus and Greece. The groundbreaking inaugural mission was held in January 2014.
Addressing an event held in Nicosia in honor of the delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades expressed his personal eagerness and determination, as well as that of the Cypriot government, to “work closely with the new US administration to further strengthen our strategic partnership in all fields, in a way that it is in the mutual benefit of Cyprus, the United States and Israel”. The President also said he remained committed in continuing the dialogue for a Cyprus solution
President Anastasiades said that the relationship Cyprus has built with the United States and Israel has not taken place by chance but was rather a “strategic choice”.
A testimony to this, he went on, is the unprecedented high level meetings between Cyprus, United States and Israel, at all levels.
“Our vision to make our region a hub of cooperation, stability and prosperity has led to the forging of trilateral cooperation mechanisms with Israel and Greece, but also Egypt and Jordan” said the President, noting that cooperation includes areas such as energy, security and defence and maritime cooperation.
Speaking about the latest developments in Cyprus talks, the President noted that over the last 22 months he has worked “tirelessly and in good faith” with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community to reach a settlement and reunifying the country. “My vision is for a reunited Cyprus that will serve as a symbol of peace, coexistence, cultural and religious diversity in the region” he added, while noting that Turkey`s contribution is “the ultimate key to success”.
“The message to Turkey needs to be crystal clear: it is time to end its anachronistic presence on the island, end the occupation and withdraw its troops” President Anastasiades underlined.
He also observed that a viable, reunited Cyprus is in the interests of all parties, including Turkey, as it will have positive ramifications on EU-Turkey relations and the EU`s security and energy architecture.
“During these critical moments our side and myself personally, remain committed to finding a viable and functional solution and on continuing the dialogue” he said and noted that “we have to work with determination and abandon any pretexts, and in particular any unacceptable claims and preconditions that do not serve the interests of Cypriots”.
Moreover, the President spoke of the vision to turn the region a hub of cooperation, stability and prosperity. “Undoubtedly, Cyprus, Israel and the United States are fully aware of the fact that natural gas can become a vehicle for creating a region of unity, peace and stability, forging regional cooperation and synergies and promoting strategic interests” he noted.
He also referred to the discovery of energy reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean, which may be “key to the EU’s energy security”. He referred finally to the statements of former Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Kerry who acknowledged in 2014 Cyprus’s role in the region.