Cypriot communities across Australia and NZ gather for 51st Annual Conference

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On Friday, May 24, the Federation of Cyprus Communities and Organizations of Australia and NZ officially inaugurated its 51st Annual Conference following a four-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference was held in Sydney at the Cyprus Community Club of NSW in Stanmore. The event also marked the launch of the Annual Conference of the Pan Australian Co-Ordinating Committee of Justice for Cyprus and the NEPOMAK World Organization for Young Overseas Cypriots.

Stephanie Demetriou, President of NEPOMAK, served as the emcee for the evening, ensuring the smooth progression of the event.

Michael Christodoulou
Michael Peters Kyriakou
Stephanie Demetriou
Yannis Mallikourtis
Michael Christodoulides
Amanda Fazio
Justice Melissa Perry
David Clarke

Michael Peters Kyriakou, President of the Cyprus Community of NSW, delivered a compelling speech on the significance of educating the third and fourth generations about the Cyprus issue and the importance of preserving Cypriot culture. His focus on generational continuity resonated deeply with the audience.

Following this, Michael Christodoulou, President of the Federation, welcomed delegates from across Australia and New Zealand. He acknowledged the substantial impact of those present in advocating for Cypriot culture and the ongoing campaign for justice in Cyprus. He also paid tribute to the community leaders who passed away in the past nine months, including members of Justice for Cyprus committees, Christina Charalambous from Adelaide, and Georgia Alexandrou from Canberra.

Michael Christodoulides, President of PASEKA, addressed the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, highlighting Turkey’s violations of UN Security Council resolutions. He emphasised the necessity for a just and peaceful resolution and stressed the importance of collaborating with other communities facing similar threats, such as the Armenian community.

Ms Demetriou echoed these sentiments, elaborating on NEPOMAK’s role in addressing the Cyprus issue while also connecting youth to their heritage and culture. She described NEPOMAK as a vibrant organisation dedicated to preserving Cypriot traditions among the diaspora.

Antonis Sammoutis, High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in Australia, underscored the importance of unity among Cypriot and Greek communities in Australia to promote a strong and unified Hellenic identity. He also suggested that the Cyprus issue should be addressed through diplomatic means.

Yannis Mallikourtis, Consul General of Greece in Sydney, expressed his support for the High Commissioner and the Cypriot community in NSW. He emphasised the broader scope of Hellenism, which includes Cyprus, and the need for collaboration to commemorate historical events such as the illegal invasion of Cyprus.

Delegates from across Australia and NZ gathered to attend the 51st Annual Conference.

The Hon Amanda Fazio, Former President of the NSW Legislative Council, and The Hon David Clarke, Former Parliamentary Secretary for Justice, both reiterated their support for the cause, advocating for continued governmental lobbying for a just resolution in Cyprus.

The final speaker of the evening, Justice Melissa Perry of the Federal Court, reflected on her family history, migration, and Cypriot heritage. She highlighted her father’s legacy of social justice, public service, and education. Justice Perry also discussed the hospitality and generosity inherent in Hellenic culture, drawing on personal experiences and an ancient Greek myth that underscored values of compassion, knowledge, and time, relating these to the Cyprus issue.

After the speeches, attendees enjoyed a dance performance by the Cyprus Community of NSW Dance Group.

Cyprus Community of NSW Dance group
Cyprus Community of NSW Dance group.

Special guests in attendance included Stavros Nikolaou, Deputy Head of Mission at the Cyprus High Commission; Major General (Retired) Tim Ford AO, Vice President of the United Nations Association of Australia (NSW Division); Dr Stepan Kerkyasharian AO, Former Chair of the Community Relations Commission; Morris Hanna OAM, Former Mayor of Marrickville Council; Victor Macri, Former Mayor of Marrickville Council; Rosana Tyler, Former Councillor of Inner West Council; Dr Andrew Theophanous, Former Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister & the Minister for Health; Mr Michael Kolokossian, Armenian National Committee of Australia Director; and presidents of various Cyprus communities from Australia and New Zealand, including Professor Andreas Evdokiou, Theo Theophanous, Stathis Zambas, Zak Chrisostomou, Nectaria Volis, Helen Gordon, Fanos Christou, Helen Christodoulou, Andy Economous, Panikos Achilleous, Michael Yiallouros, Dr Miranda Adamou, Chris Koulinos, and Pavlos Andronikos.

Dr Stepan Kerkyasharian and Michael Peters Kyriakou.
Michael Christodoulou (L) and David Clarke (R).

The conference continued over Saturday and Sunday, featuring a range of speakers from across Australia and New Zealand discussing the Cyprus issue. On Saturday, reports were presented by presidents and representatives of PASEKA and SEKA, planning for the 50th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus was discussed, along with the current political climate in both Cyprus and Australia and lobbying efforts for Cyprus in Australia. On Sunday, reports from community presidents and representatives were presented, along with the Treasurer’s reports, NEPOMAK’s past and future youth activities, and discussions on elderly and women’s programmes, as well as the promotion of Greek language and culture schools. Proposed amendments to the constitution were also discussed, and plans were made for the next conference.

This year’s conference holds particular significance as it marks 50 years since the invasion of Cyprus.

Federation of Cyprus Communities and Organizations of Australia and NZ

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