NEW YORK – Members of the community were invited by PSEKA – the International Coordinating Committee, Justice for Cyprus to a fundraiser for Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey on April 8.
The guests at Kopiaste Taverna in Astoria and were welcomed by Philip Christopher, founder and president of PSEKA.
Pallone said “I am happy to be here in the building with PSEKA because it has always been out front on the issue of the reunification,” of the island nation. “We had a nice discussion about Cyprus…We talked about everything,” he said.
Pallone is particularly concerned about Turkey’s violation of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). “They think they have some rights in the EEZ…which they don’t…and to natural gas drilling.”
The Congressman said they also “talked about the need for the U.S. to play a role to push Turkey towards supporting a re-unification of the island and ending the occupation by Turkey.”
Pallone was asked about the prospects for the new UN talks scheduled for May. He said “First of all we have to make sure Turkey gets out of the EEZ. We don’t want the energy issue to be part of these negotiations – because they shouldn’t be.”
“I am concerned that the occupation in the North continues…the U.S. has to bring more pressure on Turkey that this is unacceptable…41 years is ridiculous,” he declared.
The Armenian genocide was also discussed. Pallone has been one of the co-sponsors of a resolution that recognizes the genocide for a number of years.
“I know this sounds partisan, but it has been very difficult to get the Republican leadership to support bringing the resolution to the floor, but we will continue to push for it…hopefully the 100th anniversary of the genocide makes more people aware…it goes back to the issue that if you don’t have recognition, you continue to allows genocides. The Turkish government continues to deny that this occurred and this is not a good thing, even for the Turkish people. The government must recognize it, otherwise there is never closure,” said Pallone.
He also noted the presence at the event of Pontian Greeks. “They remember, and feel the genocide against the Pontians must be recognized as well, and I certainly agree,” he said.
Christopher later told reporters that “Congressman Pallone today is probably our biggest supporter in the House of Representatives…he is the ranking Democrat on the Energy committee, which will play a big role vis-a-vis Cyprus and Israel. He is very close to the Jewish-American community and he is a co-Chairman of the Armenian caucus and this resolution on the Armenian genocide is something that can help us with our own Pontian issue.
“Pallone is someone we want to support…he is a critical man right now,” Christopher added.
The committee in support of Pallone is in formation and includes Charlie Papastylianou, Savas Tsivikos, Tasos Zambas, Andreas Comodromos, Savas Constantinides, Peter Loucas, and Nikos Mouyiaris.