FLUSHING, NY – In the presence of the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and other high-ranking government officials and diplomats, the Federation of Cypriot-American Organizations (FCAO) held its Annual Testimonial Dinner on September 27 at Terrace on the Park in Flushing. The honorees were His Grace Bishop Sevastianos of Zilon, who received the Leadership Award for his contribution to the Greek Cypriot Community of America, and Dr. Harris Pastides, President of the University of South Carolina since 2008, for his outstanding achievements in academia.
Miss Cyprus USA, Arianna Christou, served as emcee of the event. Among those present were PSEKA President Philip Christopher, FCAO President Kyriakos Papastylianou, and FCAO Executive Vice President, Nicos Paphitis.
Also in attendance were Cyprus’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou, Deputy Minister to the President Vassilis Palmas, Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis- Negotiator of the Greek-Cypriot Community, the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to Washington Marios Lyssiotis, the Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN Kornelios Korneliou, the Consul General of Cyprus in New York Alexis Phedonos-Vadet, the Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Consul of Greece Lana Zochiou, and entrepreneur and HALC founder Nikos Mouyiaris.
Following the presentation, the Federation surprised President Anastasiades with a birthday cake, wishing him all the best and to see Cyprus free and rid of occupying troops.
Optimism for the Future
Taking the floor, Mr. Anastasiades, who attended for the sixth consecutive year, commended the expatriate Cypriots, recognizing their love for the homeland and the fact that they spend time and money to promote the struggle for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
“You are struggling, not without cost. You give to support the just cause of Cyprus. At times supporting the refugees, sometimes giving to those in need, we always feel this warm embrace from the Diaspora. That is why I repeat, I feel great joy when I am with you and the will and the determination to stand worthy of expectations and to see our homeland, finally, free,” said Mr. Anastasiades.
Then, the President referred to the activities of his own political leadership, noting the reduction of unemployment to 7%, the geopolitical partnership with countries like Egypt and Israel, but also the general upgrading of the Cypriot economy.
“Our economy has had 22 downgrades. We now have continuous upgrades to reach the current level. Unemployment has dropped to 7%, from 16%. If we manage to reach the maximum in the next two years, we can speak of full-time employment,” he said.
Following Anastasiades’ speech, Bishop Sevastianos, was presented with his prize. In his acceptance speech, he said, “I feel that if I receive praise for what I do, it loses its worth. Nevertheless, I accepted this honor as a sign of love to my person. However, in my person, you honor yourselves, working every day, tirelessly, to liberate our homeland, and also to teach your children the love for Cyprus.”
Dr. Harris Pastides spoke about his dedication to his country of origin in his acceptance speech. He referred to his family and childhood years spent in the “Greek-held” Astoria.
“The first characteristic of the Cypriot-Americans is our dedication to education. I do not know of any Cypriot-American family who did not give everything for their children’s education. The other characteristic is that we will never forget,” he concluded.
Finally, Philip Christopher in his speech made a special mention of Nikos Mouyiaris who attended the event in spite of health problems and was applauded for his ongoing contributions to the community.