Diaspora conference concludes with parties discussing the Cyprus problem

Family photo of the delegates of the World Conference of the Cyprus Diaspora

August 25, 2023. Hellas.

Parties discussed aspects of the Cyprus problem with diasporic populations during the last day of the annual diaspora conference in Nicosia.

Representatives from the main political parties received questions by the participants of the conference focusing on the developments in the national problem, expatriate vote, the subsidy policy for returnees, as well as the situation with the migration issue.

Most representatives referred to the recent violent incidents in the buffer zone when they spoke about the efforts to break the deadlock in the Cyprus problem negotiations. They also mentioned Turkey’s stance as hindering the efforts to resume discussions and highlighted the need for “realism” from the Greek Cypriot side.

This was noted in the greeting of Disy deputy chairman Efthimios Diplaros who also referred to the contribution of expatriates in the strengthening and cooperation between Cyprus and the countries they reside. He said diaspora is promoting the island as a tourist and investment destination.

“You embody the greater Cyprus, outside Cyprus you are without exaggeration the most valuable network of support for the positions of the governments of the country,” he said addressing the attendees.

Thus, he said, it goes without saying that the Cypriot State, for its part, should show the expatriates in practice that it cares and supports them. Diplaros said this can be done both through the full implementation of the National Strategy for Cypriots in Diaspora, but also through policies within a clear and comprehensive framework of action and with the use of all available tools, such as the online platform of Cypriots in Diaspora.

Referring to the immigration, Diplaros reminded that in Cyprus the percentage of immigrants reaches almost 7 per cent with that in Paphos standing at 37 per cent.

The issue is on the agenda for discussion on September 5, when four ministers will be at the relevant committee of the Parliament to update MPs.

For his part, Akel MP Giorgos Loukaides focused on the Cyprus issue, saying that “we are one breath away from the finalisation of partition” which is Turkey’s goal. He stressed how the Greek Cypriot side needs to continue to pursue efforts for the resumption of talks from where they were left of in Crans Montana.

“It would be suicidal if we attempt to move away from the agreed basis for a solution to the Cyprus problem, which is the Bizonal Bicommunal Federation solution,” he said, explaining this would “give all the pretexts and excuses to Turkey….to put forward positions on sovereign equality and two states”.

Diko MP Panikos Leonidou stressed that Ankara is not interested in a just solution to the Cyprus problem, hence the Cypriot state should strive to change their strategy on the issue.

But the content of the bizonal, bicommunal federation should be fully clarified, said Depa’s deputy chair Antigoni Papadopoulou, adding that the Cypriot government has deviated from its initial positions on the national problem.

She also mentioned how Cyprus’ demography is altered as hordes of irregular immigrants arrive on the island, a topic highlighted by far-right Elam as well.

“We should have a strict migration policy,” Elam’s spokesman Geadis Geadi said, adding that all crossing points should be closed.

Referring to the diaspora, he said expats “deliver lessons of patriotism to everyone”.

The role of diaspora in the Cyprus problem noted Edek vice chairwoman Maria Vassiliadou who said diasporic populations are a “spear and shield” of any effort to strengthen political movements for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Vassiliadou though said that the national problem should not be identified with the “manufactured animosity between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots which was promoted by fascist forces on both sides, after they found ground in extreme right-wing forces”.

Instead, she pointed out the similarities between the two communities, which she said, include similar ways of thinking.

Answering a question on behalf of the Green Party, its deputy chairman Alkis Papis said expats should try to convince the countries where they are that the goal is the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the occupied territories.