Cypriots in NSW react to MP’s support of event ‘celebrating’ Turkish occupation

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The Cyprus Community of New South Wales has expressed its outrage after news emerged that Liberal Holsworthy MP Tina Ayyad attended a 40th celebration and commemoration anniversary for the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Cyprus remains divided by a UN-demilitarised buffer zone after the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974. There remains a strong Turkish military presence on the northern part of the island, which calls itself the TRNC.

Australia recognises the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus but not of the TRNC.

According to The Australian, Ms Ayyad tabled a statement to NSW Parliament on November 28 after attending the Australia-North Cyprus Friendship Association’s (ANCFA) Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Independence Day commemoration event in Liverpool.

Ms Ayyad wrote it was “a privilege” to attend the event and said “it was a day of celebration and commemoration, with family‑friendly activities for everyone to enjoy including a jumping castle and face painting!”

tina ayyad
Tina Ayyad MP.

In response, The Australian has reported that the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, Antonis Sammoutis, will be writing to NSW Parliament, the Foreign Affairs Department and Ms Ayyad to demand an explanation.

The President of the Cyprus Community of NSW, Andrew Costa, has also issued a statement condemning Ms Ayyad’s recent actions and calling on her to “immediately and publicly apologise to the Cypriot community of Australia.”

“The occupation and division of Cyprus is very much an open wound for all Cypriots. It is not a cause for celebration. It is an ongoing struggle for Cypriots and for all people of the world who want to see justice for the people of Cyprus,” Mr Costa said.

“Mrs Ayyad’s actions have not only caused harm to this goal but have poured salt into the open wound of the Cypriot people including the tens of thousands of refugees who lost their homes in the 1974 war and cannot return to the occupied north and the families who fifty years on still do not know where their missing loved ones are.”

In a statement to The Australian, Ms Ayyad said her attendance at and statement of support tabled to parliament for the community event should not be construed as “an endorsement of any foreign policy.”

“Multiculturalism is our strength, and I support and respect every community including Greek-Australian and Cypriot-Australian communities, and I would love to attend all events,” she said.

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