The commemorative events for the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion and occupation in Cyprus took place on Sunday, July 11, 2021, in the community of Saint Nicholas in Flushing, New York.
The events began with the annual memorial service for the heroes, the fallen, and the victims of the Turkish invasion, which took place in the crowded church of St. Nicholas presided by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and continued with the traditional event in Sarandakeio Hall.
The exhibition with the black and white photographs from the unspeakable day, of July 20, 1974, and from the drama of the families of the missing, in combination with the historical documentary touched all those present in the Sarantakeio Hall. Nikolaos Karakostas, son of the EOKA fighter and at the same time coordinator of the event, and Brooklyn and Staten Island State MP Michalis Tannousis, who comes from the occupied territories, electrified the room and captivated the audience.
The events were attended by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN, Ambassador Andreas Hadjichrysanthou, the Consul General of Cyprus, Dr. Konstantinos Koutras, the president of the Pancyprian Association and International Coordination Committee – “Justice for Cyprus” (PSEKA), Philip Christopher, the president of the Federation of US Cypriot Organizations, Kyriakos Papastylianou, presidents and executives of the Cypriot associations, the president of the Pallakonian Federation Theodoros Pavlakos, the benefactor of the community and the Greek Afternoon School, Stefanos Tserpelis, the president of the historical association of Evrytanos of America “Panagia Prusiotissa”Eleni Kalogera and other community leaders.
Archbishop of America: The slogan “I do not forget” is not a threat to anyone
Archbishop Elpidophoros of America during his speech inside the church spoke extensively about the consequences of the Turkish invasion and reminded us that the slogan “I do not forget” remains relevant and is identical with the “Eternal memory” that we shout every time we remember and honor the heroes of the fallen and victims of the Turkish invasion.
“The slogan ‘I do not forget’ is not a threat to anyone. Nor is it a warning of revenge. It is a debt to our dead, that is, to our past. It is also a debt to us at the moment, so that we can avoid our own mistakes again. And it’s a debt for the future, to find a viable and just solution, which will not be a source of new problems and unrest”, Archbishop Elpidophoros pointed out, also reminding everyone that” we do not forget “the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.”
The President of the Federation of Cypriot Organizations of America, Kyriakos Papastylianou, expressed his satisfaction with the success of the events and called on the Greek community to further support the efforts to effectively promote the issue in the parliamentary and governmental decision-making centers. “July 20, 1974, is the greatest tragedy of the modern culture of Cyprus. 47 years after the Turkish invasion, not only we do not see a solution to the Cyprus problem, but its deterioration. Recently we saw the opening of the coastal town of Varosha that I think we all more or less know what the result will be. “We must continue to fight and keep the Cyprus issue up to date,” said Papastylianou, among other things.
The President of the International Coordination Committee – “Justice for Cyprus” (PSEKA), Philip Christopher, referred to the 47-year struggle of the Greek community for the settlement of the Cyprus problem and stressed, among other things: “As American citizens, we know that the Cyprus problem is not a problem for Democrats or Republicans, but a problem of values and ideals. We hope that President Biden, who is particularly familiar with the Cyprus issue, has given us promises, and at the same time is present in many of our mobilizations. We hope we have elected a new president who understands this. It may be too early but I am still optimistic that he will keep his promises. ”
Christopher also referred to the annual conference with keynote speaker the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulidis, which will be organized on July 20, which will take place online.
The State MP, Michalis Tannousis, pointed out that he is a descendant of refugees and that he grew up with the stories about the atrocities of the Turkish occupiers and stressed that justice in Cyprus should be at the forefront of a country’s politics, where its state and federal representatives put the value of justice at the forefront of a wide range of socio-political issues.
The Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN, Andreas Hadjichrysanthou, referred to the aggressive and provocative stance of Turkey and noted that he challenges the Security Council resolutions and that he insists on the solution of the two independent states in Cyprus.
He also made extensive reference to the announced intention of the Turkish president to make announcements of new challenges, during his illegal visit to the occupied territories on July 20, the anniversary of the invasion of 1974.
Referring to these events, he stressed that they help to keep the memory alive, to strengthen our mental strength, to stimulate our national consciousness and it is a didactic reminder of our history.
He also stressed that his presence at the event, in addition to the expression of appreciation and gratitude on the part of the State of Cyprus, is also conveying the message that despite the difficulties faced by the Cypriot government remains committed to its national goals to end the current unacceptable situation and insists on a solution that will meet the expectations of the Cypriot people and which will end the division and the ongoing occupation. A solution that will create the prospects, which will allow every citizen to live in conditions of security, prosperity but also peaceful coexistence and mutual respect.
Consul General of Greece in New York, Konstantinos Koutras congratulated the organizers of the event and among other things stressed: “I would like to thank and congratulate, once again, the Federation of Cypriot Organizations of America with its worthy President, Kyriakos Papastylianou, the Coordination Committee – “Justice for Cyprus” with the never-resting, fiery patriot Philip Christopher and all of you, Greek Cypriots, Greek men, and women, who keep the torch of Freedom burning.”