NEW YORK – The 36th Annual Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference Strengthening U.S.-Cyprus Relations in the Face of Turkish Intransigence was held on July 20 via Zoom, commemorating the somber 47th anniversary of Turkey’s illegal invasion and continued occupation of Cyprus.
The featured speakers included Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Senator Robert Menendez, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Gregory Meeks, American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, and Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis, along with 23 other U.S. Senators and members of Congress.
The event was hosted by PSEKA, the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus, with co-hosts AHEPA, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations, the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), and the Hellenic American National Council of North America (HANC), and sponsored by the Panhellenic Federation of Florida and the Pancyprian Association of Florida.
The discussion, moderated by PSEKA President Philip Christopher, Mike Manatos and Andy Manatos, highlighted the grim anniversary, honoring those who died for the freedom of Cyprus, those who remain missing, and the thousands of refugees who cannot yet return to their homes in the illegally occupied area of Cyprus, but also looked to the future in the struggle for justice for Cyprus.
Mike Manatos gave the welcoming remarks and introduced Philip Christopher who noted all those who have passed away without seeing Cyprus free and reiterated the promise he made to his parents to continue the struggle and remember that injustice in Cyprus is a threat to justice everywhere. He noted all the organizations participating in the event and the importance of unity on the issue of Cyprus.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides in his remarks noted that the devastating effects of the illegal 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus are still being felt today and the continuing aggression of Turkey and its destabilizing role in the Eastern Mediterranean undermine U.S. interests in the region. He pointed out that the international community, led by the United States, the European Union and the UN, must be firm in the response to Turkey if there is to be any hope for a resolution to the Cyprus issue.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi noted the strength of relations between Cyprus and the U.S. and how the number of U.S. Senators and members of Congress participating in the event highlighted how important the issue of Cyprus is and noted how the efforts continue for a reunification plan that includes all the people of Cyprus.
Sen. Menendez noted that we ignore Turkish aggression at our own peril and he will continue to stand up for international law and human rights and will push the administration to demand accountability for the tragedy that took place 47 years ago.
A video presentation included 23 U.S. senators and members of Congress noting the strength of relations between Cyprus and the U.S. and the need for a strong response to Turkish aggression in the region including the recent illegal actions in Varosha, direct violations of the UN Security Council resolutions. The distinguished U.S. lawmakers, many of whom are leaders in key committees, included: Rep. Chris Smith, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Sen. Jack Reed, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Chris Coons, Sen. Ben Cardin, Sen. Ed Markey, Rep. David Cicilline, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Sen. Chris Murphy, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Ted Deutch, Rep. Albio Sires, Rep. Lee Zeldin, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Charlie Crist, Rep. Chris Pappas, Rep. John Sarbanes, and Rep. Dina Titus.
Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandra Papadopoulou introduced Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis who spoke via video on the somber anniversary and noted the unwavering commitment of Greece to Cyprus and to a bizonal, bicommunal solution that honors the sovereignty and independence of Cyprus. Mitsotakis pointed out that Turkey’s aggressive actions on land and sea are unacceptable and undermine the efforts for peace and unity for Cyprus. He highlighted the cooperation between the U.S. and fellow EU members, neighbors and partners in the region including Egypt and Israel that share a vision with Greece and Cyprus for peace, security, stability and development, and added that we remember and never forget the victims.
Also among the speakers were Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues and Overseas Cypriots Fotis Fotiou, FCAO President Kyriacos Papastylianou, AHI President Nick Larigakis, AHEPA Supreme President George Horiates, Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Maria Pappas, Panayiotis Baltatzanis, Michael Alexandrou, Varnavas Zagaris, World Federation of Overseas Cypriots (POMAK) President Andreas Papevripides from London, Savas Tsivicos, Tasos Zambas, and Andreas Comodromos.