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Bi-partisan support for Cyprus reunification

Federal Parliament passes motion by Maria Vamvakinou, reaffirming its support for a fair and just resolution to the Cyprus problem

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Bi-partisan support for Cyprus reunification

Parliament House has been the gathering point for many invasion protests. Photo: Kostas Deves.

21 Jul 2014

As the world prepares to mark the 40th anniversary of the Cyprus invasion by Turkey, Australia has reaffirmed its position, calling for the demilitarisation and reunification of the island.

Greek Australian MP Maria Vamvakinou spearheaded a motion in Federal Parliament this week, calling for bi-partisan support in aiding peace processes for the reunification of Cyprus.

The motion was passed without debate, with Labor MP Anthony Albanese and Liberal MP Matthew Williams showing their support in parliament.

"We've secured ongoing continuing bi-partisan support both from the government member, Matt Williams who spoke, and our side, that we continue to support a resolution for Cyprus," Ms Vamvakinou told Neos Kosmos.

Flying to Cyprus this weekend, Ms Vamvakinou will be in the country to witness anniversary commemorations, while also reiterating Australia's support.
She believes peace is at its final stages, and is hopeful for a workable resolution that will benefit both parties.

"I think a resolution is achievable, and I think all the work that's been done brings the situation to a point where it just needs one final push."

That final push is down to the political sides of the Greek and Turkish run Cyprus reaching an agreement.

Recently there has been growing internal and international support for the reunification.

Both interfaith leaders, Greek Archbishop Chrysostomos and the Mufti of the Turkish Cypriots, Dr Talip Atalay, have voiced their views that Cyprus would benefit being reunited.

US vice-president Joe Biden said in his recent visit to Cyprus that "peace should be the Cypriots' legacy to their children".

But after 40 years of no solution, many have abandoned the idea that Cypriots will live in a unified country.

"It's been painstakingly slow at a political level," Ms Vamvakinou says.

Australia plays a vital role in showing that both sides can live harmoniously thanks to its migration legacy.

Thousands of Turkish and Greek Cypriots live side by side all around Australia, with more than 22,000 Australians tracing Cypriot ancestry.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australia has been aided by the migration of Cypriot Greeks for years.

"Successive waves of newcomers eager for a better life, including many of Cypriot and Greek heritage, have enriched our culture and added a heroic dimension to our national story," he said in a message to the community through Neos Kosmos.

MP Anthony Albanese, who supported the motion, said in his constituency of Grayndler he sees Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots living in harmony.

"The Cyprus Community Club in my electorate has brought together people of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot backgrounds to recognise the cultural benefit that comes from mutual respect and understanding," he said in his speech.

Ms Vamvakinou has seen that first hand in Cyprus, with divided communities uniting under the Cypriot flag and promoting a unified identity.

"I've met with people from the other side, the Turkish Cypriots, and one of the things that struck me always was that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots
have a lot of things in common," she says.

"They are Cypriots, pushing that citizenship and identity is really important."

Currently the Australian Federal Police is taking on its 50th year stationed at the buffer zone, serving continuously as part of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus.

The AFP has had thousands of officers stationed in Cyprus, with three policemen, Sergeant Llewelyn John Thomas, Inspector Patrick Hackett and Sergeant Ian Donald Ward tragically losing their lives alongside 181 other peacekeepers in their role.

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