NSW politician apologises to Cypriots for supporting event ‘celebrating’ Turkish occupation

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Liberal Holsworthy MP Tina Ayyad has “unequivocally” apologised to the Cyprus Community of New South Wales after she 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.

As reported last week, 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 Ayaad (right) attending the event. Photo: Australian North Cyprus Friendship Association/Facebook

At the time, the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, Antonis Sammoutis, and the President of the Cyprus Community of NSW, Andrew Costa, wrote to Ms Ayyad to demand an explanation.

Mr Costa also wrote to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, NSW Premier Chris Minns and NSW Liberal Leader, Mark Speakman.

On Monday, Ms Ayyad sent an official response to Mr Costa apologising for any offence she caused to the Cyprus Community of NSW.

“I understand the sensitivity surrounding the issue as a Parliamentarian and will be more mindful of this in the future,” Ms Ayyad wrote in her apology.

“My attendance at the event should not be construed as acting contrary to Australian foreign policy. My views are in line with those of the Commonwealth government of Australia.”

Mr Costa “welcomed” this apology by the Member for Holsworthy and said Ms Ayyad wants to speak with him to be further acquainted with the true history of Cyprus.

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