Hundreds turned out in Melbourne last Sunday to show their support for the people of Cyprus and to mark the 41st anniversary of the Turkish invasion.
Young and old joined the march that ended at the steps of the Victorian parliament, bearing banners which declared ‘Human rights for all Cypriots’ and ‘Justice for Cyprus’.
Keynote speaker of the event was Cyprus’ Minister of Agriculture Nikos Kougiales, who was in Australia on an official visit to coincide with the commemorations.
“Ten years after the Annan Plan, the conditions have matured. The international community and policy moves at a different pace,” Mr Kougiales said, adding that he was optimistic about negotiations currently underway.
“We’re very optimistic on the way President Anastasiades and the new Turkish leader Mustafa Akinci are handling the issue.
“[Mr Akinci’s] attitude shows that we can talk and that this dialogue is honest. Of course we have our differences but our own side is prepared for tough negotiations so we can get a solution that will be of the benefit of both sides. It looks like we are on a positive path,” the minister said.
Addressing the crowd, Mr Kougiales added that he and Cyprus were grateful for their ongoing solidarity.
“You are ambassadors … [and] we’re grateful for your support and for bringing the issue to the forefront”.
Other speakers at the rally included Victorian Labor MP Jenny Mikakos, the president of the Pan-Australian Justice for Cyprus Coordinating Committee (PASEKA) Mr Kostas Elisaiou, and president of the Victorian branch of SEKA, Mr Constantinos Procopiou.