Cypriots from around the world were brought together at the inaugural Cyprus Diaspora Forum last month.

The four-day event held on March 6-9 in Limassol, Cyprus was founded by South African born Cypriot screenwriter, author, playwright and director Paul Lambis.

Its goal was to bring together pioneering Cypriots in the diaspora and acknowledge the vital role they play in branding Cyprus internationally.

The forum saw prominent business professionals and talented Cypriots all gather at the Parklane Resort and Spa in Limassol.

One of the key takeaways was outlining the importance of Cyprus’ diaspora in forging connections and joining forces to support the island’s growth sectors and further enhancing its reputation as a dynamic business hub.

The forum began with a breakfast networking event hosted by TV and radio journalist Emilia Papadopoulos and featured entertainment by the award-winning Cyprus Choral Association.

Author Helena Kidd. Photo: Supplied

Those in attendance included Limassol Mayor Nicos Nicolaides, United States Ambassador to Cyprus Julie D. Fisher, Australian High Commissioner to Cyprus Fiona McKergow, former Commissioner for Overseas Cypriots Photis Photiou, Secretary General of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Marios Tsiakkis and more.

Helping Lambis organise and run the event was Melbourne-based communications manager and surgical technician Filli Kaoullas.

The Cypriot Australian told Neos Kosmos that there were huge numbers of people from all walks of life including business, sports and entertainment.

“The most amazing thing for me personally was the number of people I met and had no idea of their success and no idea that they were Cypriot,” she said.

“There were people from all over. We’re talking from India, Israel, South Africa, Netherlands, America, England, everywhere they came from everywhere.

“People were telling me, ‘I’ve made 40 connections today that I would never have made in my career’.”

Filli Kaoullas was instrumental in getting the forum up and running. Photo: Supplied

One of the notable Cypriots at the event was the president of the Recording Academy/GRAMMY Awards Panos A. Panay.

Guest speakers took the stage over the four days with notable Australians including chief strategy and growth officer Peter Abraam, vice president the Australian Parthenon Committee Elly Symons, MP Andrea Michaels and social and political analyst and director at CONSTANTi Costa Constanti.

The four-day event concluded with a gala dinner and awards ceremony attended by over 350 guests, who were welcomed on arrival by the Cyprus Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Other performances on the night came from Cypriot Australians Andrew Lambrou (last year’s Eurovision representative for Cyprus) and Cyprus’ 2024 Eurovision representative, Silia Kapsis, who performed the ballade version of her song ‘Liar’.

Greek Cypriot singer Marilia Charalambide, Konstantinos Michaeloudes and Vasiliki Hajiadamou also performed.

Peter Abraam. Photo: Supplied

Impressed by Kaoullas’ talents Lambis elevated her contribution by announcing her as vice president of the Cyprus Diaspora Forum at the gala event.

Kaoullas was surprised by the announcement but honoured, having worked all four days to make sure the event went to plan.

“I was shot. Jet lagged, exhausted from working really long hours, hungry.”

“When it was announced I was in awe. I was like ‘wow and I just went up to Paul and said ‘Oh my goodness, what an honour, what a privilege.

“He’s said ‘are you for real? This wouldn’t have been what it is if it weren’t for you’.”

Aussie contingent in Cyprus for the event. Photo: Supplied

In a statement sent to Neos Kosmos, Lambis said Kaoullas was one of the first people to embrace the vision of the forum.

“Her unwavering efforts in Australia to promote Cypriot culture and traditions, as well as her steadfast commitment to raising awareness of the forum in her home country, were instrumental in attracting many Australians of Cypriot heritage to Cyprus,” he said.

“During the forum, Filli’s ambassadorial role was further emphasised by welcoming Cypriot diasporans from all over the world to Cyprus to share their ideas and strategic efforts in rebranding the island as a dynamic and international business hub.

“Fostering exceptional business connections, interviewing and profiling high-level celebrities and prominent individuals, advocating Cyprus’ growth sectors and investment opportunities, and bridging relationships with the local and international communities through trust, integrity, honesty, and exceptional communication skills.”

The highlight of the gala event was the first CYDIA Awards, which honoured Cypriots of the diaspora in sixteen categories including the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Filli (right) has a background in event management. Photo: Supplied

This award went Tasoula Hadjitofi, a globally recognised activist for human rights, religious freedom, international humanitarian law, and the protection of cultural heritage.

Australians were also recognised with awards in literature, finance & commerce and entrepreneurship

Author Helena Kidd, George Moulos Managing Director at Ecommerce Brokers and Chief Strategy and Growth Officer for Abu Dhabi, Peter Abraam.

Filli Kaoullas said many were impressed with the Australians in attendance telling her “there’s something special about you Aussies.”

“‘I don’t know what it is, but there’s something special about you,’ and many people came up to me and said that.

“All I said to them was, ‘you’re right, there is something special about us, we’re upfront, we’re honest, we trust you and you trust us. And that’s what I based my working philosophy on.”

She said for next year she hopes to find more Cypriot Australians to attend and share how they are representing the diaspora.

GRAMMYS President Panos Panay (left) with Peter Abraam. Photo: Supplied