NEW YORK – The International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) on July 20 hosted an online commemoration of the 46th somber anniversary of the illegal Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus.
The discussion via Zoom was moderated by PSEKA President Philip Christopher, Andy Manatos, CEO of Manatos & Manatos, and Mike Manatos, President of Manatos & Manatos.
In his opening remarks, Christopher noted that it is a sad day for the community and for so many who lost loved ones in the invasion and for those from the occupied areas who like his parents died without ever realizing the dream of going home. He also thanked all those participating in the online event and those who continue to fight for justice for Cyprus.
U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi expressed her thanks to the organizers for inviting her to participate in the event and noted the grim anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the subsequent occupation. She also highlighted the longstanding support for Hellenic issues and the ongoing efforts concerning the current situation in the eastern Mediterranean and the Turkish provocations. Pelosi was especially eager to hear from Cyprus Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides, who spoke about the threat to the security and stability of the region posed by Erdogan’s continuing policy in Syria, Libya, and Iraq, incursions into Greek airspace, threats of drilling in Greece, and the sixth illegal drilling operation in Cyprus’ EEZ.
Christodoulides also noted the important progress made recently in the efforts to enhance the security of the region with the U.S., and also with Cyprus’ neighbors Israel and Egypt.
American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO David Harris recalled traveling between Athens, Nicosia, and Jerusalem nearly 40 years ago with community leaders working together on the Cyprus issue. Harris also pointed out that the AJC’s interest in the Cyprus issue is a matter of principle, that small nations have the same rights to sovereignty, and that history should have taught us that the only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them. He looked forward to a reunified, reunited Cyprus where all can live in peace and prosperity.
U.S. Congressman and House Middle East Subcommittee Chairman Ted Deutch spoke about his efforts working with Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida on the bipartisan Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance they founded in 2013. Rep. Deutch mentioned Erdogan’s troubling aggression and that the U.S. must continue to support a sustainable solution. He noted that he was looking forward to celebrating the reunification of Cyprus rather than commemorating the invasion.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) spoke about the troops still occupying Cyprus and the need to designate Turkey as a CPC [Country of Particular Concern] and liable to sanctions. He noted that the establishment has largely ignored Turkey’s efforts to erase all traces of Christians in the country, and the conversion of Aghia Sophia into a mosque demonstrates an end to secularism as Turkey challenges Saudi Arabia for Sunni Muslim leadership. Rep. Smith noted that as a NATO ally, Turkey should be called out for its actions as the illegal, immoral occupation of Cyprus continues.
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez – the ranking Democrat in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke via video message concerning the solemn day and reiterated his dedication to seeing a free and reunified Cyprus. He noted especially that the negotiations must be renewed, without Turkish intervention which has undermined the process, to find a durable peace that is “of the people of Cyprus, by the people of Cyprus, and for the people of Cyprus.”
U.S. Congressman and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel began his Congressional career by solving the murder of 16-year-old Greek-American Andrew Kasapis and 1,000 other Hellenes at the hands of the Turks. The young Engel would not accept the State Department’s 10-year refusal to investigate what Turkey had done following the capture of Andrew Kasapis of Detroit, four other Americans, and 1,000 Cypriot children, women and men. The law Engel enacted revealed that Andrew was executed with a bullet in his head, as were the other Americans and the 1,000 children, women and men of Cyprus captured alive.
Rep. Engel noted that he and his colleagues, regardless of party affiliation, are doing their best on the Cyprus issue and the friendship between the U.S., Greece, and Cyprus is a priority of his. The relationship with the Cypriot community has been a highlight of his career, Engel said, adding that he will continue his efforts and hopes to see a free, democratic Cyprus soon.
Special remarks were also made by the AHEPA Supreme President George Horiates, American Hellenic Initiative President Nick Larigakis, Federation of Cypriot American Organizations President Kyriacos Papastylianou, and Hellenic American Leadership Council Executive Director Endy Zemenides.
More information is available online: https://pseka.org/.