Nepomak USA the Youth Division of the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations and the Cypriot Young Professionals (CYP) of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented Cyprus 44 Years Later- A Retrospective Look and Call to Action at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria on June 5. The well-attended event brought together young people and leaders of the community interested in the Cyprus issue and what comes next in the struggle for justice for the divided island nation. The event was organized under the auspices of the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations and the Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce.
Former President of the CYP Christina Shailas spoke movingly about her love for Cyprus and also of the need for the youth to become more involved in the cause. Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Nicolas Nicolaou noted in his introduction of her that Shailas loves Cyprus so much she is moving there. Shailas thanked everyone for their presence at the event, including the diplomats, sponsors, and media who made the event possible. She noted that the goal of the event was to bring the community together, to feel empowered as a community, review the history and events that led us to the point we are at today, adding that we must “never forget what this beautiful island suffered.”
The President of the Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce Nicos Nicolaou who was nine years old at the time of the invasion noted that sometimes you have to ask for people to share their stories and added that the Board supports the young people in their efforts for Cyprus. A brief video featuring the first announcement of the invasion with the sirens blaring brought back the trauma of that Saturday morning in July of 1974 for Nicolaou, and he noted that when he first heard it again in preparation for the event, he had to stop it because it was so frightening.
The President of FCAO Kyriakos Papastylianou congratulated the CYP and NEPOMAK for organizing the event and pointed out that all the organizations support the youth coming forward to lead the fight for justice for Cyprus.
The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cyprus to the United Nations Ambassador Kornelios Korneliou gave a brief outline of the Cyprus issue, the history, events, and explained where we are today, and where we can go from here. He said there is no other alternative but to continue the negotiations for the unity of Cyprus. As a member of the European Union and the UN, Cyprus must become a “normal state” as Amb. Korneliou said, quoting the UN Secretary General. Events need to be understood, but also the geography, he said, noting that Cyprus is an oasis of stability in the region and is a reliable and predictable ally of the United States and Israel, and has the full support of Greece.
A panel discussion followed and the following members of the community participated: Elena Marouletti, Founder/Executive Producer/Host of AKTINA FM/TV and President of CYPRECO of America, Stavros Kamilaris, President of Lampousa, who was serving in the army at the time of the invasion, Sophia Kotzia, and Effie Lekkas shared their emotional stories, bringing history to life for all those present.
PSEKA President Philip Christopher spoke about the struggle for justice for Cyprus adding that all the young people must become involved in U.S. politics, by registering to vote and making their voices heard at the city, state, and federal levels of the government. He referred to the ongoing efforts for the missing of Cyprus and thanked Nikos Mouyiaris for his presence and years of support for the cause.
Among those present were the Consul General of Greece in New York Dr. Konstantinos Koutras, the new Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Alexis Phedonos-Vadet, His Grace Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, Mr. Menelaos Menelaou- Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cyprus, and New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides.
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The mission of the FCAO is to, preserve and promote the Hellenic Cypriot culture, heritage, principles and ideals in the United States of America through the coordination and promotion of cultural, charitable, educational, fraternal and professional activities.
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