Famagusta refugees demand their return to their hometown
Dherynia, Aug 7 (CNA)-- Greek Cypriot refugees from the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta marched yesterday to the checkpoint leading to their town, reiterating their wish and determination to return back to their ancestral homes.
In an annual anti-occupation ceremony entitled ''solution - reunification - peace'', the refugees dislocated from their hometown during the 1974 Turkish invasion on the island, gathered at Dherynia village square from where they marched to the checkpoint, where they released 31 pigeons to mark the 31 years of occupation of their hometown. The march ended up at Famagusta's Cultural Centre, where a ceremony took place.
The event was organized by the Famagusta Municipality. Present at the event were Cyprus House President Demetris Christofias, political party leaders, deputies, thousands of refugees from Famagusta, an inter-parliamentary delegation from Greece, as well as British MP and honorary citizen on Famagusta Eddie O'Hara and British former MP and honourary citizen of Famagusta Tom Cox.
Chistofias, who was the main speaker at the event, reiterated the will for a solution of the Cyprus problem the soonest possible.
He added that the demand for the return of the fenced-off city of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants and the broader implementation of confidence building measures are not the main target of the Greek Cypriots, but aim at fostering a climate that will contribute to a settlement of the Cyprus problem.
''Solution and reunification the soonest possible remains our struggle's ultimate target for the fulfilment of which we will continue to strive,'' Christofias underlined.
Cypriot House President also described the declaration by Ankara that Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus as ''the most recent example of intransigence.''
''It is a deplorable declaration which contradicts the UN resolutions, the acquis communautaire and questions Turkey's commitment to implement the Protocol to expand its Customs Union with the ten EU member states,'' Christofias added.
Famagusta Mayor Yiannakis Skordis said that ''we demand to put an end to the injustice against the Cypriot people and to revive Famagusta, which remains silent for 31 years.''
''We demand nothing more than the return to our homeland and the guarantee of our human rights, as envisaged by all UN decisions,'' he stressed, adding ''we will continue to organise marches until we will be able to celebrate the reunification of our small country in cooperation with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots.''
Speaking on behalf of the Greek inter-parliamentary delegation MP Panayiotis Rigas said that the dream of the young Cypriot people is ''to see again a united Cyprus, an independent state free of foreign troops and the people deciding for their own future.''
He described the barrier separating Cyprus as a disgrace and shame for the system on which the European Union is based.
British Labour MP Eddie O'Hara conveyed two messages, one for Turkey and one for the United Nations.
''Turkey cannot even think that it will join the European Union without recognising the Republic of Cyprus and its sole lawful government,'' O'Hara said.
He added that the UN should cut off the barbed wire fence, so that Famagusta is rebuilt and Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots live peacefully together, noting that the case of Famagusta could pave the way to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Former British MP Tom Cox expressed sadness over the stance of British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Cyprus, assuring that many British MPs oppose any attempt by Blair to speed up Turkey's entry to the EU ''until we see a very clear evidence from Ankara that at long last they are responding to what all of us here have demanded and rightfully so for years and years.''