Statement by the Presidential Commissioner Mr Photis Photiou at the online event organized by PSEKA for the anniversary of the proclamation of the pseudostate, PIO 15/11/2022
It is always a distinct honor for me to be here, online with you. Let me first commend once more PSEKA and the organizers (Philip, Andy and Mike) and all contributors for this event and thank them for giving me the opportunity to participate.
On this very day, thirty-nine years ago, the then leadership of the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey moved on with an illegal unilateral declaration of “independence” in a renewed effort to bring down the legitimate state, our Republic of Cyprus. The international community has repeatedly and collectively condemned this secessionist act which is contrary to international law and the UNSC resolutions.
This reality of a continued effort to secede from the legitimate state complements all other illegal acts of Turkey, which since July 1974 and for forty-eight (48) years, has deprived Cyprus and its citizens, especially Greek Cypriots, of our basic human rights. The right to ownership, security, property, free movement. In essence, the occupation army has been enforcing the law of arms ever since.
From a humanitarian point of view, probably the most tragic consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus is that of the missing persons. During and after the Turkish invasion, thousands of Greek Cypriots were arrested and held in concentration camps in Cyprus by Turkish soldiers and paramilitaries, operating under the Turkish army.
I take this opportunity to thank all Diaspora leaders and key-policymakers on the Hill for their active engagement in promoting specific legislation on the matter. Still, around eight hundred people are still missing – two of them American citizens. Regrettably, progress on this serious problem during the past few years is disheartening and disappointing. The bell is ringing; time is running out. I feel that at this critical juncture, the need for the US to assume a more active involvement and humanitarian initiatives is absolutely urgent.
We highly value US interest and active involvement in recent years in the efforts to ease tensions, in order to be able to resume negotiations to achieve a comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus Issue.
President Anastasiades has submitted creative proposals, without considering the political cost at the home front. Always, of course, bearing in mind the strict red lines of security that our political leadership has collectively formed.
This desire for a solution has always conflicted with the Turkish intransigence that has become even more aggressive over the last few years, by shamelessly putting forward claims for the recognition of sovereignty of the Turkish Cypriot secessionist entity.
With its politics, statements and daily provocations, Turkey now moves completely outside the framework not only of international law – which it has been violating, one way or another, for all those decades – but also outside the framework of a rational approach, attempting to create tensions and insecurity.
They escalate and continue their provocative actions in the fenced area of Varosha; they increase violations in the UN buffer zone, disregarding the cooperation with the UN and trying to impose a new arrangement so as to allow the operation of UNFICYP in the occupied areas; and they continue their hate rhetoric against Greece and Cyprus, in a disinformation campaign of fake news, to create the basis for their irrational and illegal claims in the Aegean and the EEZ of Cyprus.
Ladies and gentlemen,
During these past years the relationship between Cyprus and the US has significantly strengthened both at the bilateral and multilateral level. There is a growing political desire and commitment to deepen and broaden our ties with the United States, in all areas. It is important that we carry this momentum forward, to the benefit of our countries and peoples.
The role of the organized Diaspora, as a pressure group in major decision-making centers around the World, and especially in Washington D.C., remains indispensible and of great importance.
We owe them a great debt for continuing the preservation of our identity, for promoting our rich culture, history and traditions in the US, as well as for sending the clear message that Cyprus remains one of the most predictable, reliable and stable partners of the US in the key region of the eastern Mediterranean.
Thank you once again for today’s event and your warm and supportive messages.
I wish to assure you that the Government of Cyprus, and myself, will continue supporting and strengthening the active engagement of our Diaspora in the enhancement of the bilateral ties between Cyprus and the US, in all possible ways so that we further advance our common objectives.