Simon Fraser University played host to Pavlos Anastasiades, the Republic of Cyprus’ first resident High Commissioner to Canada, who presented an informal discussion on current and future prospects for Cyprus-Canada relations.
In a talk at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies, faculty, students, and staff were welcoming to the High Commissioner. It featured a variety of historical, cultural, and educational links between the two countries.
The role of High Commissioner to Canada is a new diplomatic mission initiated in December 2015. Educated at the University of Birmingham, Anastasiades served in Washington from 2010 to 2013 as an ambassador to both Canada and the US.
Anastasiades spoke with much esteem of Canada’s history of relations with Cyprus — specifically Canada’s peacekeeping mission with the United Nations. Named operation SNOWGOOSE, it has been running for over 50 years.
“Canada showed how peacekeepers should operate,” said Anastasiades, remembering Canada’s successful defence of Cyprus in 1974 when Turkey invaded. The “Canadians forced the aggressors to stand down” through active peacekeeping.
All Canadian regiments did rotational duties in Cyprus throughout the mission. The Commissioner spoke of a recently erected monument in Cyprus, in honour of the 28 Canadians who have died in service there since 1964.
The Canadian Armed Forces currently has one staff member in Cyprus. The High Commissioner jokingly remarked that Canada may “triple” its presence next year.
The Commissioner is interested in strengthening academic relationships between Cyprus and Canada to include SFU. The “niche” SFU has in Hellenic Studies could be of “great significance and mutual benefit” if developed.
Canada likewise has a “niche of federalism,” said Anastasiades. Cyprus is looking for a federal solution to their governance from the UN, and Canada’s experience and expertise could be beneficial to Cyprus.