President of SEKA, Eleni Efthimiou, is the youngest person to ever take on this role. As a representative of the younger generation of Greek Cypriots in Australia, she has not experienced the Cyprus invasion herself but this does not mean she is not invested in raising awareness and fighting for the reunification of the island she hails from.Having been appointed at the start of 2019, she hopes her leadership will inspire and motivate her peers in becoming more invested and better informed on the Cyprus issue.
Organising the community’s commemorative events for the first time this year, Ms Efthimiou spoke to Neos Kosmos about her aspirations for the strategic development of SEKA going into the future.
How did you get involved with SEKA? What led you to this decision?
I have been involved for more than 8 years now. It is difficult to recall the precise reason but I guess it came hand in hand when I joined the World Organisation for Young overseas Cypriots (NEPOMAK – Neolaia Omospondia Apodimon Kyprion).
I knew that SEKA was working tirelessly for a cause I feel passionately about, and the committee members needed support. As part of NEPOMAK I attended lobby days in Canberra under the guidance of the PASEKA president, so staying close to SEKA after that was natural and expected.
If we go further back, it was a program for youth that took me to the university in Cyprus, which got me involved in NEPOMAK.
Do you think that people of your age know enough about the Cyprus invasion and the history before and after that?
I think people will know and inquire on the topic as much as they were shaped to, in terms of their environment and family upbringing. It goes without saying, if they have a keen interest in history it would probably motivate them to look further into it, and learn about the circumstances leading up to the invasion. Most people know enough to know that the current situation Cyprus is in, is unacceptable.
What do you think is the reason keeping them from getting involved with SEKA?
Most people that know a lot about the issue and feel passionately may not have had an opportunity to get involved. Or, they don’t know what we do exactly, that our aim is to keep the desire for justice for Cyprus alive in the hearts and minds of Greek-Australians, thus the slogan «Δεν ξεχνώ». And to engage in what in Greek is called διαφώτιση, the dissemination of the true facts when it comes to the Cyprus Issue while following, promoting and implementing the policies of the democratically elected Government of the Republic of Cyprus. We also lobby Australian politicians, to ensure that the stance of the Australian Government with regard to Cyprus is maintained and does not deviate from the now-established position.
As a Greek-Cypriot, it is impossible to not care about the problem in Cyprus. It is more about how much each individual is willing to do, to show support that the current situation is unacceptable.
What do you think could be done from SEKA’s end or by the organised Cypriot community in general in order to inform the younger generation?
We have plans to hold informational seminars and a forum on the issue for younger people. The committee’s priority recently has been to organize the events of 1 April and 14 July. After that, we hope to be able to share news of upcoming meetings and events.
Visiting Cyprus, what do you feel when you find yourself at the heart of where it all happened?
I have visited Cyprus many times and have spent a lot of time close to the Green Line, although I have not crossed it, only because my schedule did not allow. The feeling for me is quite gloomy close to the buffer zone. To think that only a few kilometers north of there is a beautiful village where my ancestors spent their time growing businesses and raising their family on farms overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and yet we are not free to live there. However I do wish to visit the occupied side soon to see Lapithos and Karavas, the towns where my father grew up.