The UK Cypriot community is to embark upon a series of events to mark the fortieth anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus in July 1974 and the anniversary of the subsequent formation of the National Federation of Cypriots in the United Kingdom in the same year.
In July 1974, Turkish troops launched an invasion of the island of Cyprus that resulted in close to 40% of the country’s territory being occupied by the Turkish army, a tragic state of affairs that continues to this day, in contravention of the UN Charter, international law and human rights conventions, and in the face of unanimous international condemnation. This dark milestone will be marked through a number of events, as will the fortieth anniversary of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, which was established to campaign for the termination of Turkey’s military occupation of the northern part of Cyprus and for the freedom and unity of the island in the United Kingdom, which itself is a guarantor power with significant moral as well as treaty obligations towards its former colony and current EU and Commonwealth partner.
Over a period of forty years, the Federation has become the representative body and the acknowledged voice of the largest and most significant community of Cypriots outside of the island itself, numbering in excess of 300,000 people. In addition to spearheading the British Cypriot community’s efforts to promote the cause of a reunited Cyprus, it also coordinates the work of UK Cypriots in the political, social, cultural and educational spheres and lobbies for and articulates the interests and concerns of the Cypriot community in Britain.
Peter Droussiotis, the fourth and current President of the Federation who has served in the role since 2007, today highlighted the importance of the two anniversaries:
“The impact of the invasion of Cyprus upon its people, the region and, indeed, word politics, is plain for all to see: that such an atrocity has been allowed to continue, essentially unpunished for nearly 40 years, is testament to the failure of international politics and to the prevalence of realpolitik in world affairs rather than adherence to the rule of law.
“However, even though the tragedy of an unjustly divided European island continues, this year we also focus our attention on the integrity and achievements of the Federation in this country. Formed by UK Cypriot volunteers in close co-operation with the then President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, in the aftermath of Turkey’s invasion, the Federation has become a focal point for co-ordinated action and a symbol of unity for our community in the United Kingdom. An umbrella organisation which brings together virtually all UK Cypriot community, social, political, educational and cultural groups and associations, the Federation has enabled British Cypriots to represent and articulate their interests in the UK and to share the fabulous history, heritage and culture of Cyprus in the wonderfully multi-ethnic society of Britain.
“I am incredibly proud of the contribution that my predecessors and colleagues, past and present, have made to our community and to Cyprus through their selfless participation in the voluntary work of the Federation for many years. I want to pay tribute to all of them as I do to the many friends of the Federation in the British Parliament and outside of it.
“It is truly atrocious that 40 years after the invasion, we still have to fight for freedom and justice, but fight we shall, until justice is delivered. Our anniversary events symbolise our determination to continue this struggle until Cyprus’s unity, independence and territorial integrity are restored. ”
The inaugural anniversary event will be a community dinner in honour of Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus, who will be on a week-long visit to the UK in mid-May. The dinner is being organised in co-operation with the Association of Greek Orthodox Communities in Great Britain on 17th May 2014 in North London. For details of the event, please email the Federation at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Other events planned to mark the two anniversaries during 2014, include the established annual freedom rally in Trafalgar Square which will take place on 13th July 2014 and the annual lobby of Parliament meeting in the same month. In addition, plans are being made for a Federation 40th anniversary lecture on Cyprus, an art exhibition by British Cypriot artists, a music concert and a 40th anniversary dinner with the participation of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, in the autumn.