NEW YORK, Sept. 23, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC honored Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades with the global advocacy organization's prestigious Light Unto the Nations Award for his steadfast defense of democratic values, relentless pursuit of peace, and unwavering commitment to friendship with the United States and Israel.
David Harris, AJC's Chief Executive Officer, who has met with President Anastasiades many times in Cyprus and New York, presented the award. Honorary AJC President Stanley Bergman welcomed the nearly 100 guests to his home, where the event took place. John Shapiro, AJC President, concluded the session.
"As the Prophet Isaiah said, the highest calling in life is peace or "eirini" in Greek, but to have peace requires courage ('tharros') and wisdom ('sofia'). President Anastasiades has shown these qualities in his determination to reunite his island nation peacefully, and in his genuine friendship to the United States and Jewish people," said Harris.
Anastasiades said he is "immensely proud" to receive AJC's Light Unto the Nations Award. Saluting the close, cooperative partnership developed over the years between his country and AJC, the president said the award is "a testament to our joint belief in advancing closer Cypriot-Israeli cooperation and strengthening regional synergies and transatlantic relations."
"AJC, through its longstanding cooperation with the Hellenic diaspora, has been instrumental, indeed the architect, of the quadrilateral partnership developed among the U.S., Greece, Israel and Cyprus," said Anastasiades. "We count on AJC's indispensable support in continuing to deepen Cyprus-Israel ties."
"AJC has demonstrated that it is a trustworthy and tireless advocate of our common values and vision for the region," that are based on shared principles of democracy, tolerance, peace and the fight against anti-Semitism, he said.
"Israel is a very important strategic partner and a stabilizing force in the Middle East region," said the president, adding that Cyprus will continue to "advocate in support of the security of the State of Israel, and call for refraining from unilateral measures which could detrimentally affect EU-Israeli relations."
On anti-Semitism, President Anastasiades referred to the many Cypriot municipal leaders who signed AJC's Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism statement as a concrete example of his country's commitment to fight anti-Semitism. "Anti-Semitism is an evil that must be eradicated to the full," he said. More than 500 European and U.S. mayors, including 22 mayors from Cyprus, joined the initiative earlier this year.
The president expressed optimism that an agreement will be reached for the peaceful reunification of the island, which would bring an end, he said, to the 42-year-old Turkish occupation of 40 percent of the country. "The Turkish contribution in concrete terms is critical," he said.
The award was presented at an AJC breakfast event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly opening. Senior national AJC leadership, top representatives of the American Greek and Cypriot communities, and several Israeli diplomats attended the ceremony.
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee