NEW YORK.- by APOSTOLOS ZOUPANIOTIS
Governor George Pataki of New York proclaimed July 20th as “Justice for Cyprus Day” during a ceremony in Manhattan on Monday in the presence of Greek American officials. In Nicosia, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides welcomed the New York Governor’s proclamation, noting it is a ”significant gesture”, while all Greek American leaders attending the ceremony praised the Governor as a friend of Greece and Cyprus and a true Human Rights Champion.
In his speech, Pataki said “for more than 29 years ago Cyprus, the beautiful and peaceful island was disrupted with an invasion which has led to the inability of people to return to their homes on the northern part of the island”.
“And for 29 years people of goodwill and not only those of Greek ancestry, have called for justice for Cyprus and for the ability of people not just to travel across the green line but to live and go back to the communities where they were from to, to have their properties restored and to be able to live in their homeland”, he added.
He expressed hope that instead of “issuing proclamations calling for justice for Cyprus we can have a celebration commemorating justice for Cyprus”.
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Demetrios thanked the Governor, noting “it is a sad event to remember what happened 29 years back”. He said “Cyprus has been always a very alive part of a wonderful Greek Hellenic tradition”, and expressed hope that the “this very sad episode will come to an end”.
Cyprus’ Consul General Martha Mavrommatis expressed the government’s readiness to continue the negotiations based on the Annan plan, adding that the partial lifting of restrictions in the freedom of movement to and from the occupied areas is not the solution.
She expressed the government’s appreciation to the US administration because “they support the efforts of the SG of the UN and just yesterday the Spokesman of the State Department Mr. (Richard) Boucher reaffirmed the position of the American government that the negotiations have to continue based on the Annan plan within the framework of the UN”.
“We are going to continue our struggle for a peaceful solution in Cyprus where everybody Turkish Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins can live together in peace. We are also very hopeful because Cyprus on the 16th of April signed the accession treaty into the EU and this also will be a catalyst and we hope that it would help to the solution of the Cyprus problem”, she added.
Greek Consul General, Dimitris Platis said that everyone around the room hopes that the concept of this proclamation comes true.
Cyprus Federation President, Peter Papanicolaou, said the Cypriot community of America will be fighting for this cause and we try to keep the cause alive. Hopefully next year will be a year for celebration.
“Cyprus is a wonderful island that deserves a better future. There is a window of opportunity until next May, when the full accession of Cyprus to the EU will take place and we hope that Turkey will put the necessary pressure to Mr. Denktash to move forward for a solution”.
International Coordinating Committee “Justice for Cyprus”, President, Philip Christopher, said the tragedy of Cyprus has brought us into political collective action. “The Greek Americans prior to the invasion perhaps were not that involved, today we are totally involved. We work with congressmen, we work with senators, we work with states, trying in putting pressure on Turkey. Unfortunately after 29 years we have managed some good things, resolutions, proclamations, legislation but the bottom line is that Turkey has not left the island. There is still 38,000 Turkish troops on the island, the island is still divided. Our government I think maintains some good policy but when it comes to Turkey somehow we just fail to put that pressure on that would bring resolution”.