* NFC London marks 40 years of Turkish invasion of Cyprus *
Ankara holds the key to the solution of the Cyprus problem, the outcome of which would have tremendous long-term benefits to the Turkish people and to Turkish Cypriots, Energy and Trade Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said at the annual rally held by the National Federation of Cypriots at Trafalgar Square on Sunday.
The Minister said that it is generally agreed that it is up to Turkey to reverse the negative political climate and referred to the importance of the return of Famagusta, as part of the confidence building measures proposed by President Nicos Anastasiades.
Lakkotrypis added that Cypriots are the only citizens of the European Union who still do not enjoy basic principle of human rights due to the Turkish occupation of the north since it invaded in 1974.
On his part, NFC Chairman Peter Droushiotis said that the occupied areas of Cyprus do not belong to Turkey but to all Cypriots.
“The tragedy of this island becomes deeper as we see successive Turkish governments defying the will of the United Nations for the past 40 years. This means that today’s anniversary is also an anniversary of the failure of the international community to hold Turkey responsible,” Droushiotis said.
He added that all the Cypriot organisations in the U.K. support President Anastasiades’ efforts for a peaceful solution and called on Turkey “to prove with actions, not just words” that it wants the reunification of the island.
Droushiotis also appealed to Britain and the European Union to pressure Ankara “to make it absolutely clear that Turkey will never join the EU, unless it works constructively to resolve the Cyprus issue”.
The refugee mayor of Kythrea, Petros Kareklas, said that Turkish troops need to leave Cyprus immediately and that “we accept a solution of a single state that would ensure the cohabitation and the common welfare of all Cypriot citizens.”
Conservative MEP Charles Tannock, a long-time supporter of a just solution to Cyprus with the European Parliament, pledged that he will continue to struggle for the people of Cyprus and that his is not at all satisfied with Turkey’s stance.
On the issue of the ghost town of Famagusta, Tannock said that it must be returned to its lawful inhabitants and that there is cross-party support in the U.K. for the reunification of Cyprus and its people.
Former Labour MP and councilor for Greater London, Andrew Dishmore, speaking in Greek said that “the eyes of the world are turned elsewhere – Syria, Iraq, the Middle East – and it is important that we do not forget the occupation of Cyprus.”
Also present were friends of Cyprus, MPs Mike Freer and Theresa Viliers, politicians and community leaders, diplomats and representatives of refugee groups and relatives of missing people.
A delegation delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street that called on Prime Minister David Cameron to demand that Turkey show honest and practical cooperation to solve the Cyprus problem, as the international community and the EU continue to tolerate Turkey’s occupation, increase of settlers and the looting and destruction of cultural and religious monuments in the north.
The letter also calls for the U.K. government, as an ally of Turkey, to pressure Ankara to respect its obligations towards the EU and implement the Ankara Protocol. A similar petition was handed to the Turkish Embassy in London.
Meanwhile, to mark 40 years since the Turkish invasion and continued occupation, London-based Lobby for Cyprus is hosting a seminar at Theatro Technis on Crowndale Road, London NW1 at 7.30pm on Wednesday, that will focus on “The refugee perspective.”
Refugees from the occupied area of Cyprus will give personal accounts of their experiences of life in Cyprus before, during and after the Turkish invasion of 1974, while Dr Theodora Christou will present the current Lobby for Cyprus campaign:
“The right to vote in a Cyprus referendum in the diaspora”.
Admission to the seminar is free. Theatro Technis on Google Maps: http://goo.gl/maps/xsI0V (nearest tube Mornington Crescent) or call 020 8888 2556. For further info visit www.theatrotechnis.com and www.lobbyforcyprus.org
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