The deliberations of the 9th World Conference for Young Overseas Cypriots (NEPOMAK) and the meeting of the Executive Council of the World Federation of Overseas Cypriots – International Coordinating Committee “Justice for Cyprus” (POMAK-PSEKA) were opened Wednesday night by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades.
During the opening ceremony, Presidential Commissioner, Mr Photis Photiou, welcomed the participants, while the President of the House of Representatives, Mr Demetris Syllouris, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, in charge of issues of Greeks abroad, Mr Terens-Nikolaos Quick, and the President of Cyprus Youth Organization, Mr Panayiotis Sentonas, addressed the ceremony. Additionally, the Heads of NEPOMAK Ms Antonia Michaelides, POMAK Mr Andreas Papaevripides and PSEKA Mr Philip Christopher also addressed the opening ceremony. The choir of Pafos Music School presented an artistic program, and then, the Presidential Commissioner hosted a reception.
Upon welcoming the participants, Presidential Commissioner Photiou thanked the organized groups of the overseas for their offer to Cyprus, noting that their role, mainly after the Turkish invasion, was proved of great importance for the efforts to reunify Cyprus, as well as for other sectors such as the economic and cultural ones. “You are the best ambassadors for Cyprus abroad. We admire your successes and the progress you are making in your countries of residence”, he stressed.
Mr Photiou then made special reference to diaspora youth, “who enthusiastically and with their pure love for Cyprus, through specific initiatives and actions give a new impetus to our country’s interests within their countries of residence”. He said that Cyprus invests to its expatriate youth and promotes actions that reflect their interests in their country of residence. “They are the future of our diaspora. Therefore, we have promoted programs and specific actions to encourage their involvement in overseas activities in their countries of residence. We also promote their frequent contact with Cyprus, focusing on learning the Greek language and Cyprus’ history and culture”.
As regards the National Strategy developed over the last two years, the Presidential Commissioner highlighted that the further upgrade of the already close cooperation between Cyprus and Greece was the backbone of the Strategy. He added that they developed priorities and objectives, as well as cooperation on issues related to diaspora, both bilaterally and at trilateral level with other countries.
He also said that multilevel cooperation with friendly countries had been enhanced, especially with countries that had organized strong lobbying abroad, such as the Jewish and the Armenian ones.
The President of NEPOMAK, Mrs Antonia Michaelides, referred to this year’s Conference of the Organization, with a total of 120 participants from countries worldwide. The Organization, she pointed out, develops and promotes actions for thousands of young expatriate Cypriots. NEPOMAK’s goal, according to Mrs Michaelides, is to facilitate the youth of diaspora for educational and cultural purposes.
Mrs Michaelides expressed NEPOMAK’s readiness to continue supporting and promoting the efforts for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
On his part, the President of POMAK, Mr Andreas Papaevripides, addressing the young expatriates, expressed his pride and respect for the role of NEPOMAK in both the national problem and the actions made for the maintaining and strengthening their ties with Cyprus. Our aim, he said, is to pass over our love for Cyprus and our principles to younger generations of Cypriots, thus offering them the tools to grow.
According to Mr Papaevripides, the Cyprus problem constitutes the highest priority for the expatriates. The current status quo is not acceptable by any of us, he pointed out. Turkey’s provocative stance will not bend our determination to continue our fight to safeguard the rights of the Cyprus people and reunify our country. Finally, he called upon all political powers to collaborate in unity for all major issues of Cyprus.
Addressing the opening ceremony, the President of PSEKA, Mr Philip Christopher, expressed the desire of the overseas Cypriots to achieve a comprehensive solution to the national problem. Expatriates continue their efforts in their countries of residence, developing actions and exercising pressure to foreign officials. At the same time, Mr Christopher said, that expatriates, via their organized groups, promote and grow cooperation with relevant groups from other countries, empowering the position of Cyprus. Despite the disappointment deriving from the non-solution of the Cyprus problem, the President of PSEKA reiterated the strong commitment and determination.
Speaking about the new generation of overseas, Mr Christopher expressed his contentment for the fact that many capable young Cypriots remain active in their countries of residence, contributing with their knowledge and expertise for the benefit of Cyprus.
President of the Cyprus Youth Board, Mr Panayiotis Sentonas, in his address, said that the youth of the diaspora is the best ambassador of Cyprus. He also referred to the programmes running regarding young overseas Cypriots covering the age range of 23-30. He pointed out that the Organization along with the Presidential Commissioner’s Office will examine the designing of a programme to cover the younger ages of 12-17.
In his address, the Greek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Overseas Greeks, Mr Terence Quick, thanked Cyprus for the aid in support of the people affected by the deadly fires that hit Greece.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, he expressed once again Greece’s firm support for a just solution of the Cyprus problem, noting that there can be no solution unless the Turkish troops are withdrawn, and the anachronistic system of guarantees is abolished, thus reunifying the island and its people.
The President of the House of Representatives, Mr Demetris Syllouris, upon welcoming the representatives of overseas Cypriots, praised the role of diaspora in the efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem. “Your support and help are valuable and multileveled because you constantly enhance and gain greater momentum”, he highlighted.
Mr Syllouris made special reference to the youth of diaspora, “who constitute an active and valuable chapter for our country. Cypriots of second, third, and even fourth generation, worldwide, prove with their presence here tonight, that their homeland has a special position in their heart. I would like to warmly congratulate everybody and reassure you for my full support to the difficult work you make to your countries of residence. Your success is of course the success of Cyprus”.
Lastly, the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, referred to the Cyprus problem, underlining that the Republic of Cyprus, by growing a multilateral foreign policy, which helps the country become a regional player and promote its interests.
As regards his meeting the new UNSG Advisor on Cyprus, Mrs Jane Holl Lute, President Anastasiades reiterated his determination and genuine will to engage again in a dialogue on the basis of the Secretary General’s points, international law and the European acquis. “If we overcome security concerns, then the European acquis could provide answers to any other pending issues and differences that may exist between the two communities”, he said. The President of the Republic added that at his meeting with Mrs Lute, he expressed the readiness of the Greek Cypriot side to resume talks from the point they were interrupted provided that all six points of the Guterres Framework are accepted.
He pointed out that, despite all the efforts and good will of the Greek Cypriot side over the last 44 years of negotiations, Turkey insists on proposals that lead to retaining control over Cyprus.
Turkey, he said, insists on the same provocative attitude, claiming that the usurpation of properties, the violation of human rights, the illegal settlers and the demand for a permanent presence of Turkish troops serve to protect the Turkish Cypriots, while this is clearly a pretext against international law and the principles agreed during the talks, that the security of one community cannot constitute a threat to the other community.
The only way to be able to achieve a solution is through mutual respect, the President of the Republic underlined, saying that the solution can be achieved through the respect of the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Cyprus and the recognition that only Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, have the right to decide for themselves, without the intervention from a third country. He stressed that Cyprus, being a UN and EU member state, cannot be considered an independent state unless the existing system of guarantees is lifted and occupation troops withdraw from the island.
As regards the Government’s energy plans, President Anastasiades told delegates that despite Turkey’s threats against Cyprus’ sovereign rights, Nicosia is proceeding with the implementation of its energy policy on the basis of concrete strategic planning.
During the three-day conference, the Central Committee of Overseas Cypriots organizations will be received by President Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace. Delegates will be briefed, in closed sessions, by Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Nikos Christodoulides on Cyprus’s foreign policy, Energy Minister Mr Yiorgos Lakkotrypis on hydrocarbons, and Finance Minister Mr Harris Georgiades on economic matters. Andreas Mavroyiannis, the Greek Cypriot Negotiator, will brief delegates on the latest developments on the Cyprus problem.
Leaders or representatives of political parties will address the second day of the conference on Thursday, July 26. Youth programmes and initiatives, as well as the role of NEPOMAK in establishing bilateral and trilateral cooperation on Diaspora issues will also be discussed. Further, NEPOMAK will be briefed on the programmes and other opportunities provided by public and private universities in Cyprus for young overseas Cypriots.
Participants at the conference will also be briefed by the Director of the Press and Information Office (PIO) Ms Sophie Michaelides on the multilevel actions undertaken by the PIO, using innovative technology for establishing interactive communication. The CyBC Board Chairman, Mr Thanassis Tsokos will also brief delegates on the new Internet programs of the CyBC, addressed to the Greek Diaspora.
On Friday, July 27, last day of the conference, a round table discussion will be held with the participation of the Ambassadors of the United States, Israel, Egypt and Greece, and the British High Commissioner. Moreover, for the first time, a special debate on the destruction of the religious and cultural heritage in the occupied areas of the Republic, and on issues related to the enclaved people will be held. Overseas Cypriots will also be briefed on the Missing Persons’ issue by the Presidential Commissioner and the Spokesman on the Committee on Missing Persons, Mr Nestoras Nestoros.
Conference will conclude with the election of new NEPOMAK Executive Committee and the election of new NEPOMAK President, Secretary and Treasurer. An adoption of resolutions will follow.
A press conference to be held on Friday by NEPOMAK, POMAK and PSEKA Chairman will wrap-up Overseas Cypriots organizations’ conferences./IBNA