11 June 2024 - Remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the opening of the Photographic Exhibition "50 years invasion and occupation"

11 June 2024 - Remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Constantinos Kombos at the opening of the Photographic Exhibition 1974-2024: 50 Years Turkish Invasion and Occupation

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends, 

Friends of Cyprus,

It is with great pleasure that I am here, with you, today. 

I want to thank the PSEKA leadership for the kind invitation, and for the opportunity to address the 39th PSEKA Conference.

In 39 days, Cyprus, its people, the diaspora will be mourning as the illegal Turkish invasion of Cyprus will be reaching its 50th anniversary.  

We Do not Forget. We have a Duty Not to Forget. 

The Photographic Exhibition, which I have the honour to open today, takes us back to that tragic summer of 1974.  

The images have travelled from the archives of the Press and Information Office in Nicosia. They constitute the mosaic of the collective memory of the devastation, of the suffering of our people. 

They also serve as a reminder of the Turkish barbarism, aggression and the ongoing violation of international law. 

The International Community needs to be reminded. 

Dear friends,

Washington D.C. is the first stop for this photographic exhibition. It will travel the world, through the network of our Diplomatic Missions.  

Before us, we have a collection of more than 100 photographs, some of them seen for the first time.  

They are dominated by the faces of the summer of 1974.  No matter how many years have passed, no matter where we are, they remain the unshakable point of reference for every Cypriot, for every Greek.

They are engraved in our collective psyche, stamped in our minds, anchored in our memory. 

50 years on, these images constitute a recollection of the past, while remaining present and contemporary.

Because Cyprus, and its people, continue to experience occupation and division, in violation of their basic human rights.  In full contempt of Public International Law and against any notion of the values guiding the International Community. 

Almost 1/3 of the population of Cyprus is still displaced within their own country. Those who remain enclaved in the Turkish occupied area, are experiencing continuous intimidation and restrictions.  Just recently the Turkish forces raided the school in Rizokarpaso in order to inspect the books of the children. This is the life on the ground. 

Moreover, the fate of almost 800 missing persons remains undetermined.  

Cultural and religious sites have experienced destruction and looting. 

There is an active policy of illegal settlement in the occupied area and of selling off our properties on an industrial scale. 

Dear friends, 

I invite you to go around and look at these photographs.  

And as we pause and reflect, we must also say, in the most clear and absolute terms, that fifty years is far too long.  

Fifty years of Turkish occupation is enough.  And, it must end.

Our steadfast goal remains the reunification of Cyprus.  

We stand ready to engage in meaningful negotiations with the aim of finding a viable and lasting solution, on the basis of the agreed framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined by the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and with full respect of the principles and values of the EU.  

Anything else belongs in the realm of illegality, and would create a dangerous precedent for the international community as a whole.

To this end, we fully support the mission of the UN Secretary General’sPersonal Envoy.  And I assure you that, both President Christodoulides and myself, will continue to work with realism, determination and in a fully constructive manner, towards reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem. 

In this effort, your contribution has been vital.  

You constitute the point of contact with the American society and the US Administration. With the most powerful country in the world.

You are the most valuable partner and supporter in our efforts. On behalf of the Government of Cyprus, I wish to thank you, for your invaluable contribution for the past five decades.

In many ways, your unwavering support forms the foundation of our hopes,and gives us the strength to continue our tireless efforts,

To end the occupation; 

To heal the wounds;

To live in peace.

Thank you.


Tuesday, 11 June 2024