New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Photo: Dimitrios Panagos
The Turkish side is not responding to efforts to lift the deadlock and proceed with the resumption of settlement talks in Cyprus, said Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou, querying whether the Turkish demand for a positive vote on all decisions is a sign of political equality or rather political inequality.
Photiou was addressing the Convention of the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations, on Saturday in New York, in the presence of representatives from all organizations, Archbishop Demetrios of America, Cypriot and Greek diplomats and the MEP and President of the Solidarity Movement, Eleni Theocharous.
He also announced that he will work in order for the term “Overseas Cypriots” to be replaced with “Diaspora” in the next Conference of the World Federation of Overseas Cypriots (POMAK).
President of FCAO Kyriakos Papastylianou stressed the need for the organization not to be relying only to volunteers.
“We need to hire professional staff in order to be able to expand and to help our member organizations”.
He explained the need for a Census to record the Cypriots living in the United States and he thanked Commissioner Photiou for promising the financial assistance of the Government.
He also informed the delegates on the plan for a Community Center to cover the needs of FCAO and especially the younger generation, that needs to come closer to the Community, to learn its roots, traditions and culture and be able to take over the leadership.
Papastylianou also thanked Photiou for re-launching the hospitality programs for the Youth.
President of PSEKA and the Pancyprian Association Philip Christopher said that while he understands the frustration for the lack of solution to the end of the illegal Turkish occupation, we have many positive developments and the bilateral relationship with the U.S. is the best ever.
“All these years, despite our efforts, U.S. policy inclined towards Turkey, which was spending tens of millions for lobby. For the first time, thanks to President Erdogan, the strategic value of Greece and Cyprus is recognized”.
Christopher also stressed the importance of the strategic relationship of Greece Cyprus and Israel and he told he Presidential commissioner that the Government needs to spend more money for lobbying in the United States.
Commissioner Photiou promised that in spite of the financial difficulties, the funds will be increased.
Speaking about Cyprus developments, the Presidential Commissioner reiterated the readiness of the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, to continue the dialogue from the point it was left off at Crans Montana, during the 2017 the Conference of Cyprus, due to Turkey’s refusal to accept basic parameters set by the UN Secretary-General himself.
Photiou referred in particular to the termination of the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights, as well as to the presence of Turkish occupation troops in Cyprus. He also spoke about the interpretation of the Turkish Cypriot side regarding their effective participation in the administration and the Turkish insistence for equal treatment between Turkish and Greek nationals.
Apart from these problematic positions, what should worry us all is the clear intention of the Turkish side, seeking to control all of Cyprus, in order to serve its own interests in the region and beyond, Photiou underlined.
The Presidential Commissioner also briefed participants about the President’s positions and the deliberations taking place with the UN Secretary-General’s envoy, Jane Holl Lute, aiming to formulate the terms of reference that will pave the way for the resumption of settlement talks.
He said that the President reiterated in an unequivocal manner that he accepts the political equality of the two sides and the notion for an effective participation of the Turkish Cypriots in the administration, as well as the positive vote, when circumstances allow for a positive vote to be cast in a way that any decision of state institutions does not adversely affect the interests of the Turkish Cypriot side.
Moreover, Photiou said that during his recent meeting with Lute, the President focused on all aspects of the Guterres framework, including the termination of guarantee and intervention rights, the withdrawal of Turkish troops, as well as the territorial and other aspects that are part of the Secretary-General’s framework.
He also underlined that it is for the interest of all countries to have a Cyprus solution that does not turn Cyprus into a vassal state of Turkey, but secures rather its independence, sovereignty and its attachment to EU’s democratic values.
The Presidential Commissioner also spoke about energy developments, and referred to the trilateral cooperation schemes and the presence of US Secretary General Mike Pompeo in the latest Cyprus-Greece-Israel Summit, in Jerusalem.
He added that despite Turkish provocations, Cyprus continues its energy program, and said that he was encouraged by the results of hydrocarbon research activity and was expecting even more positive results.
During his speech, Photiou also referred to the drafting of Cyprus’ National Security Strategy, noting that Overseas Cypriots and the diaspora are an integral part of it. He briefed finally conference participants about the humanitarian problem of missing persons and the action plan the Cabinet is discussing, in an effort to increase diplomatic activity and raise awareness, also in the United States.