As an advocate for Cyprus, Philip has set the benchmark inspiring many individuals who also make it their worthy mission to seek justice and peace for the island
In 2019, Philip Christopher – one of the most highly regarded leaders in the Greek Cypriot and Greek American communities – made a special visit to Cyprus. This was not his first visit to the island. Philip Christopher had previously visited the island on many occasions, representing Cypriot organisations at the annual conference for Cypriot diaspora.
Philip’s hard work ethic and spirit of entrepreneurship owed a great deal to this visit. For the first time in the history of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Ahepa), a Greek Cypriot American was to receive the organisation’s highest honour in front of the President of the Republic of Cyprus for realising the American Dream, for his passion, vision, and determination to see peace, love, and justice reign over a united Cyprus, as well as for his unwavering support for Hellenism.
When did you first relocate to the US?
“I was born in Kyrenia, Cyprus, and when I was 10 years old, my family and I relocated to the United States of America. I have put in a lot of effort over the course of my four-decade career to build a company that is a leader in the US wireless industry. I have held board positions with several trade organisations, and I am pleased to have introduced numerous well-known brand manufacturers to the Americas.”
When was the Pancyprian Association of America established?
“In 1975, I founded the Pancyprian Association of America, focusing its efforts on protecting and assisting the struggle of the Cypriot people for freedom and justice. The Pancyprian Association is the largest Greek Cypriot organisation based in New York, with branches in Florida and Washington, D.C. Our primary mission is to help educate Greek Cypriot American students and to keep our heritage and traditions alive.
“The association operates across many divisions, which include cultural, athletic, theatre, and music among others. The Pancyprian Choir of New York, for example, has become a valued member of New York’s artistic community through its professional concert performances. The choir’s contribution includes annual Christmas and spring recitals, special tributes, and meaningful anniversary concerts.
“Whether through musical performances, traditional dancing lessons and shows, staging Greek and Cypriot theatre productions, or organising social events and humanitarian initiatives the Greek Cypriot community is exceptionally close-knit, constantly supporting one another while preserving and promoting our Cypriot culture in the United States.”
Are there any challenges maintaining our Cypriot identity abroad?
“The task of preserving our Cypriot identity abroad is not an easy one, especially when it comes to educating the second generation. The youth of today have so many different interests, but we are making every effort to connect young Cypriots who are living in the United States of America and reinforce the ties to our Cypriot heritage through cultural, educational, professional, and social events.
“There are approximately 1.5 million Hellenes living in America today, 55,000 of whom are Greek Cypriots. All Greeks are united in increasing awareness of the Cyprus issue and demanding justice and peace for our island while upholding our Hellenic values and principles.
When was PSEKA founded, and what are the organisation’s main goals?
“The International Coordinating Committee – Justice for Cyprus, also known as Pseka, was founded in 1975 by the late President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios. The organisation, with headquarters in Nicosia, Cyprus, has chapters all over the world. Its North American headquarters are in New York City. Today Pseka is staffed by professionals and volunteers working together in cities all over the United States and Canada.
“In my capacity as president, our mission remains the pursuit of a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem. My dream is to see Cyprus, a member of the European Union, free of occupying forces. This is a fate its people, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots deserve.”
IN 2019, when an emotional Philip Christopher accepted the Socrates Award, the highest accolade bestowed by the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, he gave praise to his parents, honouring them and all the refugees of Cyprus, including the people of Cyprus who have been fighting for freedom and justice since 1974.
“We have an obligation because we have a Greek Cypriot descent. But also, as American citizens, we have an obligation to make sure that the principles and ideals that we believe in the US, come true for Cyprus.”
Since the Pancyprian Association’s founding in the 1970s, Philip has held the position of president. His vigour, enthusiasm, and resolve have not wavered. “Every time there is an election, no one wants to run for president and take over the reins. However, I am hopeful that something will change very soon.”
Philip Christopher is a remarkable individual, and a shining beacon of hope for the Cypriot diaspora in America. Despite being thousands of miles away from his ancestral home, this highly respectable individual from humble beginnings has never forgotten his roots and is committed to carrying on the struggle for Cyprus’ freedom. “The work goes on, the hope endures, and the dream of a united free Cyprus will never die.”