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Deputy FM Amanatidis’ welcome address at the 26th World Conference of Overseas Cypriots (Nicosia)

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

It is with feelings of particular joy that I am here among you, just three months after my recent visit to Cyprus, this past April. At the same time, it is a special honor to be representing the Greek government at the opening ceremony of the 26th Meeting of the Central Council of the Organizations of Overseas Cypriots and to convey to all of you the heartfelt patriotic greetings of the Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.

Throughout the world, Cypriot Hellenism is a pillar of global Hellenism. In the countries where you live, you are all passionately active regarding national issues and you are distinguished for your creativity and hard work.

I believe that optimum utilization of the dynamic of our Diaspora, to the benefit of our national rights and goals, as well as the effective meeting of the needs of overseas Cypriots and Greeks, render imperative the shaping and promotion of as unified a strategy as possible for our two states.

It is precisely this need that the Memorandum of Cooperation signed by Greece and Cyprus and our two competent Services for diaspora issues – an MoU activated during our recent meetings – is called upon to meet.

At this point I think it would be useful to refer briefly to four special issues of pivotal importance; issues that we are ready to move ahead on immediately in specific sectors.

More specifically, ahead of the upcoming vote on the law establishing “World Greek Language Day,” we think that Cyprus has a special place in the related actions we are planning to develop jointly. Subsequently, the new draft law on the reform of the operating framework and role of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) will be promoted in the immediately coming time, following substantial consultations with institutional agencies in Greece and the agencies of overseas Hellenism. Moreover, the Greek Foreign Ministry is collaborating with the co-competent Ministry of Education on the drawing up of a new draft law on Greek-language education in third countries. Among our priorities is our responding to the special circumstances and needs of our cooperation with Cyprus in this sensitive area. Finally, a major goal served by the activation of our bilateral Memorandum of Understanding is the effort to connect the old and new diasporas through the setting up of an academic council of scientists on a global scale. At the same time, we are considering proposals for cooperation in the sectors of culture, tertiary education, communication, tourism, public television and entrepreneurship.

Dear Friends,

July is a highly charged month for Cypriots and Greeks everywhere, with the anniversary of the criminal coup and the illegal Turkish military invasion.

Forty-two years after the illegal invasion that led to the ongoing Turkish occupation of over a third of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, I want to assure you that we will never accept the consequences of the Turkish attack. Rather,  we will continue, until the final positive outcome, our just and peaceful struggle for the end of this unacceptable ongoing and blatant violation of international legality.

The immediate ending of the Turkish occupation and the finding of a comprehensive agreed solution to the whole issue, based on the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the implementation of the community acquis, is a top national priority of our foreign policy.

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has repeatedly stressed – and we believe that it has now been made clear in every direction – that an agreed solution on the Cyprus issue is not possible without the full withdrawal of Turkish occupation forces and the elimination of the anachronistic system of guarantees.

Despite the disappointments of the past and the continuing difficulties, the bicommunal dialogue, under the aegis of the UN Secretary General, is the only universally accepted path to the resolution of the Cyprus issue. As all of you know, the Greek and Cypriot governments are in ongoing communication.

Dear Friends,

The unstable and fast-shifting international environment does not allow for complacency or bombast. On the other hand, we must not be overcome by fear syndromes; we must have faith in the justness of our arguments and our power, and we must capitalize on the experience we have accrued.

In the joint national effort, we need your dynamism, your proposals and your active support, as well as that of the whole of overseas Hellenism. I particularly admire overseas Cypriot Hellenism’s temerity, unity of purpose and good organization, as well as the close relationship maintained by overseas Cypriot Hellenism with the culture and customs of our heroic Cyprus.

Allow me to thank you once again for the invitation and the opportunity to share these thoughts with you. I would like to congratulate the organizers and wish you every success in your proceedings and, mainly, express my wish that your next conference be on the subject of the day after in the free and reunited Cyprus of our hearts.

Thank you.

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