The leaders of organizations of Cypriots overseas have pledged to return to their countries and continue the struggle for Cyprus. At the completion of the 18th International Conference of Overseas Cypriots (POMAK-PSEKA) and the Conference of the Executive Council of the Organization of Young Overseas Cypriots (NEPOMAK), that took place from August 25-28, the Presidents of the organisations gave a press conference during which they thanked the Government of Cyprus for briefing them on the latest developments in the Cyprus issue, the economy and energy matters.
Philip Christopher was re-elected unopposed President of PSEKA as well as the organisation’s officials.
Peter Papanicolaou was elected alternate president.
POMAK and PSEKA Presidents criticised the lack of unity in the internal front on Cyprus issue, which in turn tarnishes the image of Cyprus abroad, as they pointed out.
Speaking to the press Fotis Fotiou, Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Overseas Cypriots, firstly, thanked the Cypriots of the diaspora for their support to the struggle of Cyprus. Referring to the Conference, he said that it was very useful as it provided the opportunity for an important discussion on the Cyprus issue. In addition, they discussed problems and the future the new generation of overseas Cypriots.
Fotiou announced that in early 2016, probably in February, the first Business Forum with the Businessmen of the diaspora will take place in Cyprus. “I believe this is pivotal because I am sure that we have remarkable entrepreneurs who can help Cyprus in this difficult period, either by promoting Cyprus as an investment and business center, or by investing in Cyprus” he said.
Fotiou thanked the expatriate Cypriot for their contribution to the issue of missing persons, noting that specific action has been decided to persuade the international community to show sensitivity and convince Turkey to cooperate and give an end to this deeply humanitarian issue.
POMAK President Andreas Papaevripidis said that the Cyprus problem is not the only issue that concerns overseas Cypriots, especially during the past few years. As he pointed out, there is a major issue of survival of the new and the future generations of Cypriots in diaspora. “What matters is to safeguard the continuation of Cypriot Hellenism in the countries we live”, he stressed.
Papaevripidis criticised the political leadership in Cyprus by saying that the leaders of the political parties give the impression that they consider the Cyprus issue a matter of confrontation between the parties and not a national issue.
The President of the International Coordinating Committee ‘Justice for Cyprus’ (PSEKA) Philip Christopher said that for 40 years, the leaderships have not only missed opportunities to solve the problem, but they have also lost the way towards the solution.
He added that the election of Mustafa Akinci to the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community may have brought hope for a solution, however, Ankara still holds the key to the solution. “It is obvious that the problem is Turkey and we should find a way to convince Turkey,” to help find a settlement, he said, noting that the US could play a positive role towards that direction.
Christopher said that PSEKA representatives will meet on September 15 with the new Ambassador of the US to Cyprus. Moreover, they are going to have meetings with representatives from the State Department and the US Vice President Joe Biden, with the main aim to find ways to exert pressure on Turkey, not only on the humanitarian issue of missing persons, but also on the Cyprus problem in general.
NEPOMAK President Antonia Savvides said that the members of NEPOMAK attended the same sessions and talks as POMAK and PSEKA in terms of the Cyprus issue, updates on energy and finance.
During the conference NEPOMAK also held a number of executive committee workshops, she said, pointing out that during those sessions they established solid proposals that they can work with on a number of initiatives, including a new Greek language programme.
MESSAGE BY TONY BLINKEN
Prospects for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, in light of the ongoing UN-led negotiations aiming to reunite the island, energy issues, as well as the role of overseas Cypriots were at the focus of interventions by foreign diplomats at the conference of the International Coordination Committee “Justice for Cyprus” (PSEKA) held in Nicosia in the framework of the 18th World Conference of Overseas Cypriots (POMAK and PSEKA) and the Executive Council Meeting of Young Overseas Cypriots (NEPOMAK) .
In a televised message to the conference, US Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken expressed US President Barack Obama`s, US Vice President Joe Biden`s and US Secretary of State John Kerry`s deep engagement to efforts for a Cyprus settlement.
He noted that today the prospects for a lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem are the best seen for more than a decade. He said that the communities of the two leaders in Cyprus, President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, have built some solid foundation and have shown great willingness to find a solution. He noted that a solution of the problem will be a historic development, will improve the economic opportunities and will create prospects for all the people of Cyprus.
Deputy Chief of Mission at US Embassy Nicosia Pamela Tremont said that the solution to the Cyprus problem continues to be top priority for her country. The reunification of Cyprus into a bizonal, bicommunal federation is the single most important step the island can take for its future and for our bilateral relationship. The political equality, economic benefits, and quality of life for all—both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots— can only be improved by a solution. Likewise a solution would take our relationship and our cooperation in multilateral fora and on global challenges to the next level, she added.
Tremont said that even in this hopeful time with the progress made so far in the talks, compromise and mutual understanding will be necessary to close a deal. There will be difficult choices to be made, but I think we can all agree they are essential for the future of Cyprus, she added.
She underlined that finding a lasting solution would ensure the political, economic, and social future of all Cypriots It would also strengthen Cyprus’ role within the European Union and as an international partner to the United States.
Tremont said that the new US Ambassador to Cyprus Kathleen Doherty will arrive to the island this fall and that she too is committed to that vision of Cyprus as a model of peace for its neighbors and beyond.
Lynda Burns, UK Deputy High Commissioner commended both President Nicos Anastasiades and T/c leader Mustafa Akinci for their courage and vision towards a solution, adding that the UK will do everything it can to help the process. A solution, she added, will benefit all Cypriots and ensure that Cyprus becomes a more stable, prosperous location in this region.
Burns added that the last few years have seen a particular and significant change in relations between the two countries, describing this as an important shift forward towards a more modern partnership.
She added that the two countries share common interests such as their commitment to fighting extremism, given the threat from ISIL in this region and beyond.
She also recalled that in 2014, the two countries signed an agreement about non-military development of the Bases land, which is now reaching implementation stage.
Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy Sami Abu Janed referred to the historic and traditional bonds of friendship and understanding, which unite Cyprus and Israel, noting that the last few years have witnessed the strengthening of the bilateral relations between the two countries, with the first steps towards enhancement being made with the previous government and later continued and further boosted by the present government of Cyprus.
“Clearly the hydrocarbons issue has introduced a real potential for both Cyprus and Israel, therefore, energy is widely discussed these days between the governments of our two countries. Energy discussions focus on the common exploitation of our two bordering gas fields in our maritime Exclusive Economic Zones,”he added.
He referred to the visits Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades paid to Israel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid to Cyprus, noting that “one important outcome deriving from the exchange of these visits was, among others, the directives given to the Ministers of Energy to finalize negotiations and proceed to the signing of the unitization agreement. He addded that although a large percentage of the two countries discussions have recently focused on energy and natural gas, however, there are also additional aspects of economy lying before us which are of no less significance.
Elsayed Mohammed Nabil Elsayed Morsi, Second Secretary at the Egyptian Embassy expressed his country`s support towards a viable and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem, adding that Egypt very much understands the situation and efforts undertaken for a reunification.
He said that Egypt is deeply grateful to the support the government and people of Cyprus show towards his country and the recent developments, recalling that President Anastasiades was the first European President who visited Egypt, following the election of President Al Sisi.
Morsi said that Cyprus and Egypt at the moment enjoy the best relations in many fields. He referred to the agreement signed regarding the energy sector as well as the trilateral meetings between Cyprus-Greece-Egypt, pointing out that Egypt is ready to boost and enhance these relations.
Morsi also said that the bilateral relations should also be enhanced in the private sector as well.
Andy Manatos, President of the Coordinated Efforts for the Hellenes (CEH) referring to the Cyprus problem, said that he cannot think of another time that the stars have aligned so well.
He added that the US support the efforts for reunification and that both the US Vice President, who has visited Cyprus and had talks with the two leaders, as well as the Deputy State Secretary Tony Blinken, have a strong knowledge of the Cyprus issue.
Manatos also referred to the role of the diaspora in the US saying that they have been making efforts and will continue to work hard regarding the Cyprus problem at all levels .
Later on participants at the Overseas Cypriots Conference, wrapping up today, will be briefed in closed sessions by the Government Spokesman Nikos Christodoulides and the Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis on the Cyprus problem. Moreover they will be briefed by Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Overseas Cypriots Fotis Fotiou and the Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons Nestoras Nestoros.