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Press Office

Athens, 28 July 2021

Opening of 13th General Assembly of World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association

The 13th General Assembly of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (WHIA/PADEE) opened today with a warm welcome by the President of the Hellenic Parliament Constantine Tassoulas and welcome addresses by the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Leader of the Main Opposition Alexis Tsipras. The work of the Assembly was chaired by Rhode Island State Senator (US) Leonidas Raptakis, President of the WHIA.

Constantine Tassoulas: “The persistent effort of Hellenism to vindicate Cyprus is the biggest gamble in global relations”

The President of the Hellenic Parliament Constantine Tassoulas, welcoming the members of the WHIA, stressed: “Greece is one thing, Hellenism is another. Hellenism is Greece across the world. And that is the Greece that you represent. And you represent it where it matters to us, where it hurts, where there is urgency. On the cultural front, the national issues, the language front, on the issues affecting the Eastern Mediterranean, on the Parthenon Marbles, the unity of Hellenism, and the stronger, the more convincing and the more numerous you are as distinguished politicians, the more you strengthen the voice of Greece”.

As Mr. Tassoulas pointed out, “Your grandparents and your parents had to build their lives away from the homeland. But the beating heart of their lives, their care, their nostalgia never left Greece. And it is you today who continue this tradition, you come here to encourage us and to make it clear to us that you support us in all of our goals.”

Referring to the need not to undermine one of the greatest hopes of humanity, which is the follow-up to the League of Nations, i.e. the United Nations, Mr. Tassoulas wondered: “Do you think that the international community, the European Union, Canada, the US, Australia, Great Britain, Hellenism of the diaspora, Greece, Cyprus, will allow Turkey or President Erdogan to impose a fait accompli, disregarding the decisions by the UN Security Council and the European Council? We will not allow this. He is neither qualified, nor equipped, nor does he have the power to do so.”

As the President of the Parliament underlined: “this persistent effort of Hellenism, ours, yours, the effort made by our Cypriot brothers to vindicate Cyprus, is the biggest gamble in global relations. Not in the relations of two or more countries in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is a global gamble. And the more we ensure that the strength of the law covers the breadth of the law, the more global issues will be normalised”.

Nicos Anastasiades: “We expect a more firm stance by the international community towards Turkey” 

The President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades focused his address on developments around the Cyprus issue noting: “A week ago, the Turkish President illegally visited occupied Cyprus, in yet another provocative celebration of the barbaric Turkish invasion of 1974. During his presence in Cyprus he revealed for the umpteenth time the true and long-standing goals of Turkey, which are none other than full sovereignty over Cyprus, either through a two-state solution, or the creation of a confederation, in which the Turkish-Cypriot component state, which, let it be noted, is under the full control of Turkey, will play a decisive role in governing the country. I have referred to the outrageous and illegal Turkish actions, which, through Mr. Erdogan’s expansionist logic, have led to the new deplorable and illegal announcement to change the status of the fenced-off part of Famagusta, preceded by the questioning of the sovereign rights of the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus, always, of course, to the detriment of Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots. As a result of the new provocative decision by Turkey, Cyprus and Greece have coordinated efforts and turned to every European and international forum, resulting in the unanimous and firm condemnation by the UN Security Council, and the sum of the EU, against the Turkish leadership’s announcements regarding the occupied city.”

Mr. Anastasiades stressed that he expects both the international and European community, “at long last, to adopt a more decisive stance, which will make it clear to Turkey that it cannot continue to act undisturbed, unchecked and without facing any consequences”. He reiterated his readiness and resolve to participating in a new round of negotiations, always on the basis of the resolutions and decisions of the UN, the principles and values of the EU and, of course, the achieved convergences up to the Crans Montana talks in July 2017.

He summed up with the following: “I want to make it clear in every direction, in every eventuality, that I will not accept any prerequisites set by Turkey that essentially derail the basis of negotiations and lead to the solution of two sovereign states. My goal is for us to reach a solution, to create a truly independent and sovereign European state, that will be able to function, and that will not be prone to collapsing the day after the agreement, that will respect the human and political rights of all citizens, away from guaranteed or invasive rights or the presence of Turkish troops”.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: “Your homeland needs you to stand by it as ambassadors of its values”

 “I have been very pleased to watch your contribution to the upgrading of the position of Greece on the global stage and the promotion of our national rights”, underlined the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in his welcome address. He stressed its importance “especially in these days when Turkish aggression towards Cyprus and the sovereign rights of Greece is ongoing. You are well aware of the provocative moves by Ankara in the occupied areas of Cyprus. You are also, however, well aware of the international shield that has been raised by the international community against Turkey to protect international legitimacy. And in this, the role of global Hellenism, the role of each and every one of you, is invaluable”.

Prime Minister referred to the 200th anniversary since the beginning of the Greek Revolution and focused on the importance the government attaches to the vote of the diaspora because, as he said, “all Greeks must have a say in what happens in Greece”, and he expressed the wish that “in the next parliament there will be the parliamentary majority that will lift any last impediments, so that all Greeks can vote regardless of their place of residence”. He also presented actions supporting the Greek language and the creation of new digital applications, such as “Staellinika”, which was the product of a collaboration between the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Simon Fraser University in Canada and which now has 30.00 users from 118 countries and is also used in Greek schools in North America, while it will soon be used in schools in the UK, Australia and Latin America.”Yes, the country is now moving along a comprehensive plan to integrate into the national base in a functional manner, all Greeks, regardless of their place of residence” he noted.  

Referring to the role of the Diaspora he pointed out: “The members of the Greek diaspora constitute a second Greece, outside our borders. A Greece that is thriving, a Greece that is overcoming obstacles, a Greece that stands out. Armed with the industriousness, resilience and creativity of Greeks. They are proof that Homer’s Ulysses transcends centuries, overcoming every trial. To carry on, thus, on a victorious journey around the world, always with the Ithaca of our people on his mind.”

Alexis Tsipras: “The power of the diaspora is a huge national asset that must be actively supported and tapped even more effectively”

For his part, the leader of the Main Opposition Alexis Tsipras addressed the members of the diaspora with the following: “You form and represent an institution that bears special meaning for our country and for connection links with the Greek diaspora. An institution that links parliamentary representatives of this big national strength known as the Greek diaspora with the Hellenic Parliament. And it bears honouring and remembering today, when we celebrate 200 years since the Greek Revolution, how decisive the role of Greek communities worldwide was to the Greek struggle for national liberation, for nation-building and for the growth of Greece”.

Mr. Tsipras highlighted the significance of the presence of the President of the Republic of Cyprus “which illustrates the timeless struggles that unite Hellenism in its long history and in the crucial efforts made by the united diaspora around the world. The former Prime Minister stressed that “the power of the Greek diaspora globally is a huge national asset that should be actively supported and tapped even more effectively”.

This afternoon, elections will be held for the new WHIA Board of Directors and at 16:00 a joint session of its members will be held with the Special Permanent Committee on Hellenism of the Diaspora.

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