On Sunday 16 July, the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK and His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain held the annual memorial service commemorate those who sacrificed their lives defending Cyprus in 1974 and prayers for our Missing Persons, at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God, Wood Green

The Divine Liturgy was officiated of behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas, by His Grace Bishop Maximos (Pafilis) of Melitene. H.E. the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus to the UK, Mr Andreas Kakouris, gave the Memoriam Address to the congregation.

In His Excellency’s address, Mr Kakouris spoke about “our duty to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.” These “Heroes and Martyrs,” he added, “resisted the betrayal of the coup d’état of 15 July 1974” and “stood up in the face of the Turkish invader to defend their homeland with courage and selflessness.”

The High Commissioner also remarked on the Missing People, describing them as the “dozens of heroic prisoners who chose the difficult path of resistance.” Mr Kakouris stated that “entire families were condemned to experience fear, anxiety, despair and deep sadness in an agonizing search for the truth about the fate of their loved ones,” describing it as a “tragic reality, which is also an unhealed wound for the Republic of Cyprus and its people.” For this wound, he noted that “We have an inalienable right to know and, at the same time, an obligation to continue to strive in every way possible to achieve an investigation into the fate of all the missing persons.”

Noting the situation 49 years after the invasion, Mr Kakouris reflected on the “illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, which brought a huge crisis in Europe and global consequences as well  traumatic memories to the people of Cyprus.”

While Cyprus makes “sincere efforts to resume dialogue” to end Turkey’s illegal occupation, the High Commissioner said that “Turkey and the occupying regime are seeking to further consolidate the division of Cyprus and create new fait accompli to facilitate their objective, such as the continued illegal “opening” of part of the fenced area of Varosha.” Mr Kakouris said that “the rise of Turkish intransigence is now expressed in its defiant demand for acceptance of a two-state solution and sovereign equality as a precondition for the resumption of negotiations.”

In closing, Mr Kakouris stated that “days like today strengthen our will to continue our struggle until the liberation of Cyprus.” He added that “they underline the responsibility and the debt we have towards our children and future generations” and “they remind us, at the same time, of the heavy debt we owe to our history and traditions, to our heroic fallen and Missing Persons, who, with self-denial and self-sacrifice, defended freedom, democracy and justice to the end.”

President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, Mr Christos Karaolis, in his welcoming address to the congregation began by expressing his “thanks to His Eminence for ensuring that this tragic anniversary is marked in all churches.” Mr Karaolis then noted the “49 years since the Greek military Junta coup and illegal Turkish invasion and continued occupation of Cyprus,” in which “we have not given up our hope, nor our campaign for a free, united Cyprus, without Turkish troops and anachronistic guarantees.”

This campaign, he said, continues so we can “honour the memory of those we are here to commemorate.” He referred to those “heroes who bravely stood and fought on the coasts of Kyrenia, the roads to Nicosia and the mountain passes of the Pentadaktylos against the Turkish invading forces.” In all, “those heroes paid the ultimate price to defend our beloved Cyprus and the freedom of its people.”

He stated that “we persevere against a Turkish Government and the Turkish Cypriot leadership that continues its intransigence and aggression against Cyprus and its people, to further its partition ambitions in Cyprus.” In doing so, Mr Karaolis added, “we fully support the tireless efforts of President Christodoulides to restart negotiations from the point at which they stopped in Crans Montana.”

Referring to the Missing People he said it is “our duty to their siblings, families and relatives to never give up our campaign for their right to know what happened to their loved ones.” Mr Karaolis concluded by declaring that “today, in memory of the heroes we lost, we renew and reaffirm our commitment to never stop campaigning for a free, united Cyprus and the end of the illegal Turkish occupation.”

After the service, the community of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God hosted a reception for attendees.

The memorial and prayers were also attended by the Ambassador of Greece Ioannis Tsaousis; Spyros Miltiades, Deputy High Commissioner; Odysseas Odysseos, Consul General; Christos Goulas, Head of Counsular Office; Federation Vice President Andreas Papaevripides (POMAK President) Michalis Ellinas; Treasurer Bambos Charalambous and General Secretary Antonia Michaelides; Marios Minaides, President of the Greek Orthodox Communities; Adrian Patsalos, Christos Tuton, NEPOMAK Global President; NEPOMAK UK President; Neoklis Neokleous President of the Organisation of Relatives of Missing Cypriots (UK); Susie Constantinides and Michael Yiacoumi, Federation Executive Committee Members; Andreas Karaolis, Federation Executive Secretary as well as other members and representatives  of the Federation’s Secretariat and Member Associations.