On 1 October, Cypriots around the world, along with their Greek brothers and sisters, celebrated with great joy and pride the 61st anniversary of the proclamation of our Cyprus, as an independent Democratic Republic.
The struggle against British rule was unequal and long. But it laid the foundations for what is being celebrated on this anniversary, the establishment of the independent Republic of Cyprus.
As we all now know, the first president of the Republic of Cyprus was Archbishop Makarios III with the Turkish Cypriot vice-president Fazil Kioutsouk.
With the Turkish uprising of 1963-64, and, 10 years later, with a military junta in Athens that sponsored the overthrow of Makarios, the way was opened for Turkey to invade Cyprus in July 1974.
Our compatriots have suffered immensely since then. After 47 years, Cyprus remains the subject of invasion and illegal occupation with many open wounds. This is a national Issue that affects all Cypriots.
Despite these trials, Cyprus today has taken its place as an economically developed liberal democracy and as a member of the European Union.
As such Cyprus respects the rule of law and respects human rights.
The Turkish side has started pushing for two separate states and now openly opposes the bi-zonal federation that is supported by the United Nations and the European Union – and in fact also Australia.
But I believe that it is now time for Australia to step up and play a much more significant role in supporting Cypriot independence and to oppose those who wish to dismantle it.
Australia has acquired greater power as a member of AUKUS, the Australian, United Kingdom, United States strategic alliance. This means that Australia now has much greater influence on both the British and the Americans, who in turn have significant influence on Turkey. Australia must now use this influence for a just solution for Cyprus. All Cypriot Australians and Greek Australians call on them to do so.
The Cyprus Community of Melbourne and Victoria’s Board of Directors are all as one in adding their support to the great historical work of the Diaspora, which has as a primary aim fighting with all its might for a just solution for Cyprus. We will continue the fight until there is justice for Cyprus.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO CYPRUS
Theo Theophanous is the Acting President, Cypriot Community of Melbourne & Victoria, a commentator and former Victorian Labor minister.