NICOSIA – Overseas Cypriots plan intense campaigns abroad in the next few months with a focus on the violations of Greek Cypriots’ human rights. They deem this action “crucial” for the Cyprus problem. At a news conference in Nicosia concluding the 10th congress of overseas Cypriots’ organisations, Philip Christopher President of the International Coordinating Committee (PSEKA) said a new initiative was expected in the next few months which are crucial for the Cyprus problem in view of the will to aid Turkey in its target for a date for EU accession negotiations in December.
Christopher was clear he considered the Annan Plan “dead” but did not exclude the possibility the expected new initiative for the Cyprus problem, between now and December would be related to it.
Haris Sophoclides of UK’s Pomak and Pseka’s Philip Christopher said they planned, in a joint front, intense lobbying with a focus on the violated human rights of Greek Cypriots in the next three months.
With events also planned at the same time in Brussels and Strasbourg, in the wake of the island’s EU membership, the two organisations will strive to reverse the negative climate towards the Greek Cypriots since their rejection of the Annan Plan in the referendum five months ago.
During their campaigns the two organisations say they will take advantage of the important pre-election period in the US and party conference period in the U K, which will give them more opportunities for meetings with politicians and influential members of the business communities in the two countries.
The two organisations, after their three-day congress said there were also special events planned in their own countries.
“It is a fact that President Bush and his policy in the last four years were helpful for the island’s EU course, now we are faced with a somewhat negative attitude from the State Department since the result of the referendum. But President Bush had repeatedly said that the result of the referendum and the 76% ‘no’ of the Greek Cypriots was respected. Our main efforts now is to tackle all efforts against the recognition of the Turkish Cypriot regime and for the present status quo to go and a new initiative to come in,” Christopher said.
He said that with the negative climate towards the Greek Cypriots, no commitments had been secured from the two American parties during the current pre-election period. In campaigning during the preelection period in the US, the weight will be on key states, such as Florida where there are 80.000 Greek American voters with personal contacts and pressure to break America’s set policy for Tukey.
Commenting on their earlier plea for ‘clearer directives’ on the post-referendum government strategy for the Cyprus problem, the leaders of the two organisation’s said the briefing of the President and the Foreign Minister, was “very satisfactory” although the President made it clear to them the government could not be “entirely open” about the specific changes aimed for the Annan Plan.
“Overall it was agreed that efforts should continue for the removal of Turkish troops, the return of the refugees to their homeplaces and the departure of the settlers from the occupied north, going back to the same basic human rights, we have always worked for”, said Christopher.
Being crystal clear that as far as he was concerned the Annan Plan “was over” Christopher expressed his intention to return to the US, not discussing it but restarting his campaign with discussions on the continuous violation of the human rights of Greek Cypriots.
“The people of Cyprus need for the US and the other countries to show them that they care for human rights and their violations and accept that for 30 years, Greek Cypriots are the victims and they have been waiting. It is therefore not an issue of punishing the people of Cyprus for rejecting the Annan Plan, “ said Christopher.
Christopher said that although the US $30m aid for the Turkish Cypriots was hailed by the Cyprus government for upgrading their standard of living, the aim was for it to be channeled through the Republic and to know how it is spent.
Sophoclides, of U K’s Pomak, reiterated his organisation’s policy was steady in following the will of the people of Cyprus and its democratically elected government.
The continuous efforts of Pseka and Pomak, he said, focused on influencing politicians, congressmen and MPs, to reverse the somewhat negative attitude towards the Greek Cypriots, in the U K and the US which were “key countries” for the Cyprus problem.
The leaders of the two organisations agreed that what mattered was the wish of the people of Cyprus, which political parties could not affect.
The current negative climate towards the Greek Cypriots, said Christopher, stems from a total conviction in the US that the majority of Greek Cypriots would vote in favour of the Annan Plan and ignoring warnings it would be turned down.
Noting that overseas Greek Cypriots were completely united in their views on the Annan Plan with 99%, since the initial stages, leaning towards a “no”, Christopher expressed his surprise for the continuous “yes” and “no” stand.
The task of overseas Cypriots becomes more difficult, he said, and their efforts to explain to the Americans that there were mistakes and radical changes are required are destroyed with the lobbying of prominent Greek Cypriots supporting the Annan Plan.
This year’s Pomak- Pseka congress included the Second World Congress of Neopomak dealing with the problems faced by young Greek Cypriots living abroad.
NEPOMAK President Menikos Kouvaros reassured that young generation of overseas Cypriots is ready to take over and struggle for a fair and just solution of the Cyprus problem.
”Through the support of POMAK and our regional parent federation, the ”Beyond the Green Line” exhibitions hosted by our member organizations in New York and Sydney, and the presentation of a resolution of the Cyprus problem by NEPOMAK to the British Prime Minister, our commitment to the Cyprus problem remains concrete”, Kouvaros said.
He added that since the inception two years ago of NEPOMAK, the Organization has established a global presence with formal youth organizations in the major regions of the Diaspora.
On behalf of the Church of Cyprus, Acting Head of the Holy Synod, Paphos Bishop Chrysostomos said that the struggle of the Cyprus people for a solution of the Cyprus problem continues and added that no solution’s plan would be accepted that is not within the framework of the EU acquis communautaire.
The resolutions, adopted during the 20th annual meeting of the Central Councils of the World Federation of Overseas Cypriots (POMAK) and the International Coordinating Committee – Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) held in Cyprus, are addressed to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, President-designate of the European Commission Jose Manual Durao Barroso, US President George Bush and the prime ministers of Australia and the UK, John Howard and Tony Blair respectively.
The overseas Cypriots note they consider that the proposals of the fifth version of the Annan plan for a comprehensive settlement, “are on balance detrimental to the Greek Cypriot community, are contrary to fundamental human rights principles, institutionalise a situation of democratic deficit, fall short of Greek Cypriot expectations and clearly serve Turkey’s interests and aims in Cyprus to the detriment of Cyprus and its people”.
“We believe that serious legitimate concerns of the Greek Cypriot community had not been adequately addressed or were, to a great extent, ignored, in the final Plan of 31 March 2004, a fact which weighted heavily on the results of the referendum held on 24 April 2004”, the overseas Cypriots outlined.
They expressed their appreciation for President Papadopoulos’ constructive stance as well as his readiness to positively respond to a possible invitation by the UN Secretary-General to resume talks for a Cyprus settlement.
At the same time they reassured of their “strong commitment, constructive cooperation and goodwill for justice and peace in Cyprus”.
POMAK and PSEKA also called on the US President and the British Prime Minister to reconsider their policy on “direct trade and flights to and from illegal airports in the occupied part of Cyprus, respecting the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and international and European law”.
They also expressed disappointment at the fact that US and British policies have not shown respect for the will of the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots as expressed during the April referendum.
Specifically, in the resolution to Blair, the overseas Cypriots underline that “there is a feeling that British policy towards Cyprus, although in words purports to aim for reunification, in actual terms consolidates the division and the alienation of the two communities, causing disappointment to the Greek Cypriot community”.