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Annual Hellenic Issues Conference in Washington DC Moves Cyprus Up on the American Agenda

By on July 8, 2018

They travelled from Cyprus, Greece, England and all over the US and like the 300 Spartans – only they are far less – they are facing a foe as formidable, cruel and ruthless as Xerxes’ Persia, which is Erdogan’s neo- Ottoman Turkey. Cypriot and other Greek Americans met in Washington DC at the 34th Annual PSEKA (it stands for International Coordinated Committee “Justice for Cyprus–in Greek) Conference to make sure that the centers of American power don’t forget what happened and continues happening in Cyprus after the brutal Turkish invasion of 1974.

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The President of the United States, White House and State Department foreign policymakers, and key senators and Members of Congress were personally presented with new information that can advance the Cyprus issue high on America’s agenda. Conference participants met with over 40 US senators, key Members of Congress and Administration officials during the three-day deliberations.

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV), House Foreign Affairs Committee with Philip Christopher and Andy Manatos, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV), House Foreign Affairs Committee with Philip Christopher and Andy Manatos, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

The strategy now focuses on presenting the occupation of Cyprus by Turkish forces not only as a violation of International Law and US laws that prohibit US manufactured weapons from being used to attack a country, as Turkey did, but on the Islamic fundamentalism that Turkey is implementing on the occupied areas by importing hundreds of thousands of mainland Turks to the island so that  the indigenous Turkish-speaking population  becomes a minority.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Jonathan Cohen receives the Frizis Award with leaders of (L to R) POMAK, AHEPA, PSEKA, AHI, US-Cyprus Chamber, HANC, CEH, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Jonathan Cohen receives the Frizis Award with leaders of (L to R) POMAK, AHEPA, PSEKA, AHI, US-Cyprus Chamber, HANC, CEH, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

To that effort, the explanation that Cyprus merits the President’s personal attention, in an op-ed written by Philip Christopher and printed in the Washington Times (see next page), was personally handed to President Trump during the conference on a flight on Air Force One. As well, the foreign policy voice of the US House of Representatives, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, read Christopher’s piece and indicated that he would send it to the top foreign policy people in the White House and at the State Department.

Author of the Cyprus Arms Embargo Bill, Congressman David Cicilline, is honored with (L to R) Philip Christopher, Andy Manatos, Lou Raptakis, Mike Manatos, Endy Zemenides, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

Author of the Cyprus Arms Embargo Bill, Congressman David Cicilline, is honored with (L to R) Philip Christopher, Andy Manatos, Lou Raptakis, Mike Manatos, Endy Zemenides, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

The sponsors of this conference, besides PSEKA, included: The American Jewish Committee (AJC), The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), The Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH), POMAK (World Federation of Overseas Cypriots), The Federation of Cypriot American Organizations (FCAO), AHEPA (The American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association), AHI (The American Hellenic Institute), The Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce and The Hellenic American National Council (HANC).

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce talks with (L to R) Cyprus Presidential Commissioner Photiou, CEH President Manatos, Cyprus Embassy Charge d’affairs Nicolaides, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce talks with (L to R) Cyprus Presidential Commissioner Photiou, CEH President Manatos, Cyprus Embassy Charge d’affairs Nicolaides, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

Conference participants met with senators, Members of Congress and Administration officials that formulate US foreign policy, including three of the top four senators and Members who lead the formulation of foreign policy in the US Congress:

  • Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Ranking Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

– Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Middle East Subcommittee
– Ranking Member on the House Energy Committee
– Leaders in the US Congress for Human Rights:

  • Chairman of the House Human Rights Subcommittee
  • Ranking Member on the Senate Human Rights Subcommittee
  • Co-Chairman of the Helsinki Commission

– Leadership in House and Senate:

  • #1 Democrat in the House Leadership
  • #4 Democrat in the House Leadership
  • #4 Democrat in the Senate Leadership

– Influential Members in other Foreign Policy and National Security issues:

  • Ranking Member on the House Counterterrorism & Intelligence Subcommittee
  • Ranking Member on the House Asia & Pacific Subcommittee
  • Ranking Member on the House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee

– Founders and Co-Chairs of the Hellenic Caucus:
– Founders and Co-Chairs of the Congressional Hellenic-Israeli Alliance (CHIA)
– Numerous Members who serve on the House Europe Subcommittee, House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, House Terrorism Subcommittee, and House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Member, House Energy & Commerce Committee, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Member, House Energy & Commerce Committee, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

In July 1974, Turkish forces invaded and captured 3% of Cyprus before a ceasefire was declared. In August 1974 another Turkish invasion resulted in the capture of approximately 40% of the island. The ceasefire line from August 1974 became the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus and is commonly referred to as the Green Line.

Around 150,000 people (amounting to more than one quarter of the total population of Cyprus, and to one third of its Greek Cypriot population) were expelled from the occupied northern part of the island, where Greek Cypriots constituted 80%. A little over a year later in 1975, roughly 60,000 Turkish Cypriots, amounting to half the Turkish Cypriot population, were displaced from the south to the north.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman, House Human Rights Subcommittee, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman, House Human Rights Subcommittee, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

The occupation is viewed as illegal under international law and amounting to illegal occupation of European Union territory since Cyprus became its member.

The International Coordinating Committee “Justice for Cyprus” (PSEKA) was founded in 1975 by the late President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios. The organization, with headquarters in Nicosia, Cyprus, has chapters all over the world. Its North American headquarters are located in New York City. Today PSEKA is staffed by professionals and volunteers working together in cities all over the United States and Canada. Over the last two years, PSEKA and its Board of Directors has begun a push via the Internet, to raise awareness over the plight of the people of Cyprus.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senate Armed Services Committee with Andy Manatos, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senate Armed Services Committee with Andy Manatos, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

The mission of PSEKA remains the pursuit of a just and viable solution to the Cyprus Problem, which will see the people of Cyprus free from the tyranny of an invading force – that of the Turkish Armed Forces – which occupies over 35% of its territory. While the history of the conflict between Turkey and Cyprus is rooted in the 60’s and 70’s, the repercussions of that conflict has definitely spilled over to the new millenium.

Senator Bob Menendez with Mike Manatos, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

Senator Bob Menendez with Mike Manatos, PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

Today, the Cyprus Problem remains the only source of military and political tension in the southern sphere of influence of Europe and the Balkans region by having two of NATO’s most well equipped members, Turkey and Greece, face each other off over the future of the island.

For more information on PSEKA and of ways to support the struggle to liberate Cyprus from Turkish occupying forces, the website is pseka.net


Philip Christopher: “Turkey promotes Islamic fundamentalism”

PSEKA President Philip Christopher talks to NEO’S Demetrios Rhompotis. Himself a refugee from the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Christopher became a successful businessman and has for decades led the fight for the Cypriot cause.

What’s your assessment of the this year’s conference?

PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

PHOTOS: BILL PETROS

Every time we come here to Washington we put a little stone in the building that we are trying to construct. And every time we come, there is a different crisis and a different situation. We have a new administration. The new Secretary of State just got confirmed. But I think what we heard for the first time from congressmen and senators is that they really talk about the Cyprus issue, they understand the issue, they understand the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus and how it has to be protected in view of the American companies drilling there. And they understand why Turkey’s actions are detrimental in the region. So, I’m very happy with what we have accomplished and I think the greatest achievement is the fact that we had all the major Greek American organizations here. A lot of people are saying, you are not united, you are not working together, but this time everybody was here, together, with the same message. That to me is what the work of PSEKA is all about, because we are not an organization, we are a coordinating committee.

You piece in the Washington Times about the Islamic radicalization of the occupied areas is part of a new strategy?

Yes it is! Because this is what Erdogan wants to do all over Europe. He wants to bring Muslim fundamentalists and that’s his vision. As I wrote in the article, Cyprus is the first case where this scheme is been implemented, by converting the occupied areas to a fundamentalist Muslim state within Europe.

What will the next steps be?

I will come back to Washington and meet with State Department officials. Also, President Trump has the op-ed I wrote and let’s see how he reacts to it.

What about the big meeting in Cyprus?

Yes, Cypriot organizations are meeting July 25 to 27 and we are bringing together more than 150 young Cypriots from all over the world to get them involved. Hopefully, by that time a new policy will be issued by the government of Cyprus. Because when we go to Cyprus it’s really a matter of exchanging ideas and coming up with an updated strategy to follow and implement.

A message to the Greek American community: How can they help?

We are in a fundraising season. We need to help Greek American candidates and key Congress people who are on our side. We need a lot of work to do and much money to spend until November and we need all the help that we can get. I understand that many people don’t have the time to get personally involved in the Hellenic issues effort, but they can help by participating or organizing fundraisers. PSEKA is available for help and provide guidance as to who are the key candidates that need our support. Everybody can help and do what is required.


The first modern Islamist fundamentalist conquest of the West?

by Philip Christopher*

In the 1970s, a young mogul named Donald Trump was making news as a young, brash and very successful real estate developer. At the same time, Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus made international headlines. Now, 44 years later, they are on a collision course of historic consequence. US President Trump is the leader of the Western world and Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus has now become the first modern Islamist fundamentalist attempt to capture Western world territory and resources.

New revelations expose Turkey stealthily positioning itself to attempt to permanently possess the northern third of Cyprus, which is rich in hydrocarbons and stands as a bulwark of Western civilization in the Eastern Mediterranean. Cypriot citizens fought beside the US in every 20th century war and have shown their unwavering common thinking. When Turkey refused treatment to our dying soldiers at our base at Incirlik, after Islamist fundamentalists bombed US military barracks in Beirut, Cyprus stepped up and took care of our soldiers.

The occupied town of Kyrenia, where Philip Christopher was born and hasn't been able to return since

The occupied town of Kyrenia, where Philip Christopher was born and hasn’t been able to return since

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan duped US officials into believing he would end his illegal military occupation of Cyprus. He was so convincing that news stories indicated President Barack Obama spent more time on the phone with Erdogan than any other head of state for most of his presidency.

Erdogan ignored the Geneva Conventions and quietly transplanted hundreds of thousands of Turks to live among Cypriot-born Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus who are traditionally Western, moderate and secular Muslims. The Turkish Cypriots recently exposed Erdogan’s ploy by pointing out that there are 684,301 active mobile phones and 715,000 loaves of bread baked a day in the northern third of Cyprus and that they, who are supposed to essentially be the totality of the population, number only 130,000.

The Turkish Cypriots complain that Erdogan has forced mosques and extremist imams into the occupied area that “brainwash our children.” Recently, Erdogan’s Gray Wolves violently attacked a Cypriot newspaper that stood with America in opposing Erdogan’s assault on US-backed Syrian Kurds who have fought jihadi Islamists. Given that the birthrate of the roughly 500,000 Turks on Cyprus is higher than that of the 800,000 Christian Greek Cypriots who live in the remaining two-thirds of the island, illegal non-secular Turks stand to become a majority of the people in this Western democratic island nation and pose an even more serious threat to US security interests.

Spurred by the need to distract domestic attention from Erdogan’s collapsing economy, this conquest attempt will reach a historic tipping point under President Trump’s watch. And we are confident that Trump will put an end to it. His “common sense” will replace Washington’s “wisdumb” that has effectively given the “green light” to Turkish aggression on Cyprus. There are dozens of examples that include looking the other way during Turkey’s illegal use of American arms and planes in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act to invade Cyprus. They even include our helping Turkey with shameful silence as they hid for 10 years their execution of five Americans captured alive, dumping them along with 2,000 Greek-Cypriot men, women and children into mass graves.

Trump’s extraordinary business sense will protect Cyprus, a hydrocarbon-rich ally that has been working with Exxon, Shell and Noble Energy of Texas. It is also working with America and Israel to provide a safe path for these resources to Western Europe. He will not be frightened as Turkish warships try to intimidate companies licensed by Cyprus, like Italy’s Eni, to explore for hydrocarbons in their exclusive economic zones. Nor will he remain silent as Erdogan attempts to take over Cyprus’s northern third in his drive to create a new Ottoman sultanate and a world caliphate.

Washington “wisdumb” cannot manipulate President Trump. As long as he is the leader of the Western world, he will not allow Erdogan’s Islamist fundamentalists to achieve their first modern conquest of the West. President Trump, please stand with the Republic of Cyprus, a strong ally of the United States and Israel.

Philip Christopher is president of the International Coordinating Committee “Justice for Cyprus” (PSEKA).

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