By Ilias Karagiannis.
The unwavering commitment of the Republic of Cyprus and President Nikos Christodoulides to resolve the Cyprus issue “until the final vindication” will be conveyed to diaspora by the Deputy Government Spokesperson, Doxa Komodromou, during her visit to Australia this week.
Mrs Komodromou is making an official visit to Australia for the first time and for about ten days she will have the opportunity to meet the Cypriot and Greek communities in Australia in an effort to strengthen the already strong ties between the two sides.
She will convey a message of mobility on the Cypriot issue, while in this exclusive interview with The Greek Herald she did not hide her admiration for what people of the Cypriot diaspora have achieved in their second homeland.
Mrs Komodromou also talks about her program in Australia and her visits to Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney while revealing to The Greek Herald the events that are expected to take place soon in the Antipodes under the auspices of the Republic of Cyprus.
You are visiting Australia this year to take part in commemorations for the 49th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. What does your visit to Australia signify and what are your expectations?
My visit to Australia is a special honour. As a Cypriot visiting Australia for the first time, I visit a country with which Cyprus has long been linked through strong ties due to the defining presence of the diaspora. They have carried our traditions, history, language and culture, contributing in a variety of ways to spread and consolidate multiculturalism outside our borders, enriching and at the same time contributing to the development of the country.
Every year, in July, the Government and people of Cyprus around the world unite to condemn the treacherous coup of 1974 that paved the way for Turkey to impose its dichotomous plans on Cyprus. For the new President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, personally, this is very important.
I am here to send the message that no matter how many years pass, we will continue the fight until the final vindication. As the government, we are committed to the tireless battle for the vindication of Cyprus, utilising all available channels to achieve this sacred goal. We do not consider the partition of our island as a solution, but we constantly emphasise that a Cypriot solution is required that will restore the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Cyprus, without the presence of guarantor armies and settlers.
As the government, we thank you for your unwavering support to the struggle of the people of Cyprus and we look forward to further strengthening the already excellent relations between Cyprus and Australia.
The Cyprus problem remains unresolved. On the 49th anniversary of the Turkish invasion, what can we expect on this major issue from the new government of the President Christodoulides?
The Cyprus issue is a matter of international law and for this very reason the need for the abolition of the guarantees and the withdrawal of the troops is imperative. The President of the Republic has pointed out the need for the immediate resumption of the talks, in order to prevent further stalemates.
There is mobility on the Cyprus problem and the conditions for progress are being created. The Government is ready to take advantage of this opportunity. Suffice it to say that recently, at the European Union Summit in Brussels, important developments took place regarding the Cyprus issue.
The European Union can play a decisive and leading role in the efforts to restart the talks and provide effective assistance to the talks under the auspices of the United Nations.
Our fight must be continuous. Only in this way will we win the liberation and reunification of our Cyprus and the full respect of the human rights of all the legal inhabitants of the island. It is widely known that Turkey openly continues the tensions, even attempting to create new ones at sea and on land.
The only acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem is a sustainable solution that will meet the expectations of the people, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins. As European citizens we ask for conditions of safety and dignity to prevail on our island.
To succeed, we need national understanding and like-mindedness – and it is precisely these elements that, with your support, we manage to keep alive. Diaspora in Australia is to be congratulated for its remarkable work, keeping national identity alive through its actions.
It is important to keep the memory alive and to pass on the knowledge to the younger ones. We condemn the treacherous coup, which provided Turkey with the pretext to impose its divisive plans. At the same time, we pay tribute to those who fought for the defence of the Republic of Cyprus, but also those who resisted the Turkish atrocity.
The diaspora in Australia is particularly active and try to highlight the Cypriot issue at every opportunity. What do you think they could do to help the efforts of the Cyprus government?
I have to admit that the work that our diaspora in Australia is doing in all fields is truly admirable. In the economy and entrepreneurship, in education, in the arts and culture, while at the same time it plays a huge role in passing on our traditions to the new generations.
History proves to us that immigration can enrich a country and contribute to its development. Cypriot immigrants, while maintaining their identity, contributed to the building of modern and multicultural Australia, and especially after the Turkish invasion of 1974, Cypriot diaspora and in general Hellenism of Diaspora here in Australia, developed significant activity in favour of Cyprus.
The Cypriot immigrants who came to Australia worked hard, adapted to the new environment and maintained their identity. This dedication to our roots and the preservation of our Cypriot culture has created a dynamic community of which one can only be proud, having succeeded in education, entrepreneurship, artistic performance and many other areas.
Throughout time, the support of diaspora Hellenism in the struggle to return to our ancestral homes is valuable. We want and seek the contribution of our emigrants. We wish to convey the messages to the Government of the country at all levels.
I am aware of the efforts you make to keep our traditions alive, such as recently the great Halloumi Festival which was carried out with seriousness and dedication by the Board of Directors of the Cypriot Community of Melbourne and the many volunteers who supported it.
The presence of the Cyprus Theater Organisation recently in Melbourne was also worth mentioning. Through its new approach and its desire to deepen relations with the Cypriot diaspora, THOK conveys the artistic identity of the contemporary theatre scene of Cyprus.
The Press and Information Office is planning more cultural events to bridge the geographical distance between Cyprus and Australia. I can even tell you that the next goal of its Director, Alikis Stylianou, is to bring the culture of Cyprus even closer to diaspora, by organising the photographic exhibition “ELLE – The Woman in Antiquity.”
Of course, I cannot ignore that many actions are being taken on the Australian side, one of them being the excellent book “The Children of Aphrodite,” edited by Professor Anastasios Tamis, which records the history of Cypriots in Australia in its 750 pages. Faces are projected and their social and political struggles emerge. This heritage will provide knowledge to the children to know the efforts made by their parents during the period of the refugee tragedy and how they contributed to the development of organised Cypriot Hellenism.
How would you evaluate the bilateral relations between Cyprus and Australia?
Australia and Cyprus are linked by strong historical ties. Relations between the two countries at the bilateral level are characterised by cordiality, which is based on historical and homogenous ties. It is indisputable that the element of diaspora has contributed the most to the promotion of relations between our countries. The role of the church and the importance attributed to it by diaspora Hellenism as a whole should also not be forgotten. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia plays a prominent role in the defence and preservation of the principles and traditions of Hellenism.
As for my program in Australia, this has been prepared in collaboration with the High Commissioner of Cyprus in Australia, Antonis Sammoutis, so that I can participate in anti-occupation events organised by the Cypriot diaspora in Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Brisbane and Sydney.
On July 16, I will attend the memorial service that will be held in the Cathedral of Agios Efstathios, and I will lay a wreath on behalf of the President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides. I will also lay a wreath at the Greek Australian monument in Melbourne. I will also visit the Australian War Memorial in the capital city of Canberra and will have contacts with government officials, with Presidents and officers of parish organisations, as well as with members from the Parliamentary Friendship Group of the Parliament of South Australia – Cyprus.
On July 23, 2023, I will attend the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, where a memorial service will be held in favour of the fallen heroes and a prayer for finding the missing, officiated by Archbishop Makarios of Australia.
What is the message you would like to send to our community in Australia ahead of your official visit?
I am coming as an envoy of the President of the Republic, who attaches great importance to the tightening of relations between the two countries. I am happy that I am given the opportunity to get to know the community and to visit states where a large number of our compatriots live and excel. At the same time, I am particularly honoured by the fact that I will go to as many areas as possible precisely to give my presence in practice at the events held for our Cyprus.
Finding a sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem remains the highest priority for the government of Mr Nikos Christodoulides and we will make every effort to end the impasse and restart the negotiations, so that they bear tangible results.
For all Greeks in the Diaspora, our common roots, our common values and our culture keep this connective tissue strong and durable, despite our vast geographical distance.
In these days of dark anniversaries, our memories and our pain for our tortured people are common. The effort of all of us is to create the conditions so that, soon, our hopes for a reunited and free Cyprus will come true. A Cyprus where all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins will be able to prosper in conditions of peace and security.
We must continue our fight for the liberation and reunification of our homeland, based on a just and sustainable solution to the Cyprus issue. And we owe it to all those who fought and sacrificed themselves for freedom and democracy.
In this effort, the role of our community is judged to be extremely important. I am sure that you will be on our side, tireless supporters and participants in the efforts to solve our national problem.