CFA and PSEKA Commemorate the Tragic Anniversary of the Turkish Invasion


On the occasion of this year’s tragic anniversary of the July 20, 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus that resulted in the division of the island and illegal continued occupation of 37% of its northern territory, the Cyprus Federation of America (C.F.A) and the International Coordinating Committee Justice For Cyprus (PSEKA) joined by members of the Greek Cypriot and Greek American community, organized a series of remembrance events including a 2-day visit to Washington for contacts with high ranking officials.

A full house of guests from the tri-state area of New York and beyond comprised by Greek Cypriot and Greek Americans, including members from the general public, dignitaries and representatives from several community organizations and federations attended the July 18th event which was held at the Stathakion Cultural Center in Astoria, Queens and was mainly dedicated to the occupied cities of Kyrenia and Famagusta, two of the most beautiful cities of Cyprus under occupation whose history and culture stems from ancient times.  Through poetry, music, songs and the projection of two mini-documentaries, CYPRECO’s program revived the rich heritage, and history of Kyrenia and Famagusta, including their important contributions over the centuries to the progress, character and identity of the island.

The event was greeted by the Presidents of C.F.A and PSEKA Peter Papanicolaou and Philip Christopher respectively, the V.P. of the Federation of Hellenic Societies George Chrysomallis and the Consul General of Cyprus in New York Andreas Panagiotou.  All speakers congratulated CYPRECO for this unique production, while referring to the illegal division and occupation of Cyprus by Turkey called upon the Greek Cypriot and Greek American community to remain united and to continue with the same interest its struggle for the freedom of Cyprus.  Both the President of CFA and PSEKA reiterated and emphasized that the organized Greek Cypriot American community will continue working tirelessly and always in support of every elected government in Cyprus for a just and viable resolution of the Cyprus problem that will result in the long-awaited re-unification of the island.

Elena Maroulleti, President of CYPRECO and presenter of the program also welcomed the guests and thanked C.F.A and PSEKA for the honor of having CYPRECO produce this cultural program for Cyprus which as she noted “is truly a very unique journey which will revive beautiful memories and unique feelings”.

And indeed, the very well organized event which started on time included a very well thought and produced program enhanced with poetry, songs and two mini-documentaries.  There were poetry recitals by Elena Maroulleti and Greek Cypriot poet/lyricist Polys Kyriacou from the book THE YEAR BEING…, by the late author/poet Lucy Maroulleti including from various poetry collections by Kyriacou.  The poems truly moved the audience as they revive beautiful memories from Kyrenia and Famagusta, while they also send very strong messages about the injustice that prevails in Cyprus following the 1974 Turkish invasion. Greek American singer Aphrodite Daniel accompanied by Panos Chysovergis on the keyboards along with singer Panagiotis Andreou revived patriotic songs by well known Greek Cypriot and Greek songwriters and composers in a very beautiful performance.

The two-mini documentaries by AKTINA TV, written, produced and narrated by Elena Maroulleti and edited by Tom Stouras which were dedicated to Kyrenia and Famagusta included recent original AKTINA TV footage shot in the two occupied cities, as well as file footage from the 1974 Turkish invasion.  Both documentaries examine and highlight the rich history of Kyrenia and Famagusta from antiquity to date with emphasis to the Turkish invasion and the sad results of the subsequent continued occupation.

On Sunday morning, July 20,  The Cyprus Federation of America  and The International Coordinating Committee Justice For Cyprus (PSEKA) held a memorial service and commemoration of the 34th Anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus at St. Demetrios Cathedral in Astoria, New York.  The service which was attended by members of the Greek Cypriot and Greek American community, of CFA and PSEKA was also honored with the presence of the Consul General of Cyprus in New York and other dignitaries.

On the occasion of the 34th commemoration of the July 20, 1974 invasion and occupation of Cyprus, on July 23 and 24, 2008 Leaders of the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) went to Washington and lobbied over 30 key U.S. Policymakers.  CEH leaders brought these policymakers up-to-date on various aspects of the Cyprus issue and Cyprus settlement efforts – to prepare them for important support during the upcoming negotiation process.  Many, if not all, expressed their desire to be helpful during this crucial stage for Cyprus.

CEH leaders who participated in these meetings included: Philip Christopher, President, International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) and President of the Pancyprian Association of America; Andrew A. Athens, National Chairman, United Hellenic American Congress (UHAC); Andy Manatos, President, CEH; Nikos Mouyiaris, Executive Vice President, Pancyprian Association of America; Tasos Zambas, Alternate President, PSEKA; Endy Zemenides. President, Hellenic American Leadership Council; George Tsunis, Chairman/CEO, Chartwell Hotels; Zenon Christodoulou, President, Greek-American Chamber of Commerce; Michael Galanakis, Board Member, American Hellenic Council of California and Mike Manatos, Executive Director, CEH.  Panicos Papanicolaou, President, Cyprus Federation of America, was unable to attend these meetings due to a last-minute business trip overseas. Andy Comodromos, President, Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce also participated in these meetings.  These leaders began their Washington meetings with a strategy session with the Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States, Andreas Kakouris.

One of the most productive meetings was an over-one-hour, in-depth working lunch with the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Europe Subcommittee and the Founder and Chairman of the Turkish Caucus, Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL).  House Europe Subcommittee Staff Director Jonathan Katz also participated in this meeting.  These leaders also met with several key Administration officials including: U.S. Ambassador-designate to Cyprus Mr. Frank C. Urbancic, Jr.; the incoming #2 at the U.S. Embassy in Greece, Deputy Chief of Mission, Deborah McCarthy; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Judith G. Garber; State Department Director for Southern European Affairs, Kathleen Fitzpatrick; State Department Director for Policy & Global Issues, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Nerissa Cook; State Department Greece Desk Officer & Regional Political Military Affairs, Bureau of European Affairs, Ilan A. Goodman.

As well these leaders consulted with an individual intimately involved for decades in Cyprus settlement efforts, former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes.

By: Elena Maroulleti, Journalist, Executive Producer AKTINA FM/TV.  Information on the CEH 2-day meetings in Washington with U.S. key policymakers provided by The National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH).