1927-2017. Remembering our dear friend and colleague Andrew (Avedis) Karnig Kevorkian, who passed away a year ago, on 14 April 2017.
A regular writer of our press releases and articles, Andy Kevorkian was an integral member of the Lobby for Cyprus team since 1996.
Not only was he a tireless campaigner for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Andy also fought for recognition of the genocides committed by Turkey against Greeks and Assyrians and against the injustices perpetrated against the people of Cyprus.
Andy was an ardent campaigner for a Cyprus free from Turkish occupation troops and for the right of refugees to return to their lands and homes. So devoted was he to the Cypriot cause, many Cypriots were under the impression that Andy himself was Cypriot.
His family originated from the town of Chunkoush in southeastern Turkey, where following the massacres of 1915, only one out of 10,000 Armenian inhabitants was said to have survived. He drew many parallels between the fate of his family and that of the Cypriots killed or expelled from their ancestral lands, following the Turkish invasions and occupation of 1974.
Andy was born in Philadelphia, USA on 16 November 1927. Having studied journalism, he served in the US Army, then worked as a journalist and writer.
From 1976 he was based in London, working in advertising, then going on to run his own public relations firm.
After almost three decades in London, Andy relocated to Philadelphia, from where he was in contact with Lobby for Cyprus on a daily basis.
We relied on his incredible knowledge and insight, which was coupled with his razor sharp intellect and wit. He was highly regarded by our team as a mentor who had a deep sense of history and an accurate instinct which enabled him to see through spin and diplomatic double-talk. His oft-stated core messages included ‘Cyprus has no friends’, ‘Cyprus has a veto’ and ‘the Turkish government can’t be trusted’. They are as valid today, if not more so, than when we used to hear them with our own ears when Andy was in London. History has proven Andy to be right. He never wavered in either his convictions or in the pursuit of justice.
Andy has been described as “a champion for the truth and a fighter for Armenians and Greeks”. In a tribute in the Armenian Weekly he was referred to as “Keeper of the Armenian flame”. We would add “Keeper of the Cypriot flame”.
Despite recent ill health, Andy continued to regularly contribute to our campaigns. He passed away shortly before his 90th birthday.
We will be forever grateful to Andy for his invaluable contribution to our cause, which he enthusiastically adopted as his own.
May he rest in peace.
Tributes to Andrew from his friends and colleagues
“Losing Andy is a great loss to Lobby for Cyprus, to us, to the Armenians and Cyprus. He was very kind, and always eager to help, especially Cyprus. His saying ‘Cyprus has no friends’ will always be remembered. May God rest his soul but if there is Heaven he must be there already.”
“I am likewise saddened by this news. Andy was one of my teachers and mentors. He had a deep sense of history coupled with an accurate gut instinct which enabled him to work out what was really going on. He also spoke his mind free of any spin or diplomatic double-talk. His oft-stated core messages included ‘Cyprus has no friends’, ‘Cyprus has a veto’ and ‘Turkey can’t be trusted’. They are as valid today, if not more so, than when we used to hear them with our own ears when Andy was in London. May Andy rest in peace.”
“This is so sad. Andy was a champion for the truth and a fighter for Armenians and Greeks. I remember him regularly attending Lobby for Cyprus meetings when he lived in London. He was well informed, eloquent and would never let us forget that we have a duty to continue with the fight, because no-one else would – ‘Cyprus has no friends’ is as true now as it was when Andy first said this to us. We have lost a good friend and tireless campaigner. Rest in peace, Andy.”
“I’m so very sad to hear of Andy’s passing. I remember him well, especially his passion for the Armenian and Cyprus cause. His insight, knowledge and plain speaking will be terribly missed. May he rest in peace. I can imagine the conversations and debates Andy and the founder of Lobby for Cyprus Kyriacos Christodoulou will be having in heaven. They will be shaking their heads at us all.”
“I am very sorry to hear about Andy’s passing. I never met him but he was always there for Lobby for Cyprus, giving a helping hand and putting in lots of time and effort. I assumed he was Cypriot, it’s pretty amazing then that he did more for the cause than most Cypriots put together. Condolences to his family.”
“Andy was a wonderful man with a great sense of humour and so passionate about his beliefs. He will be missed.”
“I knew Andy well when he was in London and we continued to communicate when he returned to the USA. He was an invaluable friend to Lobby for Cyprus and drafted many of our press releases. We at Lobby for Cyprus remember him fondly. May he rest in peace.”
In his own words
As a prolific campaigner, Andy Kevorkian was the writer of numerous Lobby for Cyprus articles, press releases and letters to the press and media. The following are a just a few extracts of his work, which demonstrate his penchant for seeing through spin and pointing to the unvarnished truth.
“As any politician will admit, pious principles will always be sacrificed in the name of practical policies.”
Letter published by The Independent, 12 September 1998
“When political expediency comes against moral rectitude, no one will get a prize for guessing which will win. The big and the strong will only pick on the small and the weak. And since it is only the big and the strong who can do anything about violations of human rights, only the small and the weak will be punished. Pious words and intentions never deterred a killer.”
Letter published by The Independent, 15 December 1998
“Permit me to inform you that the proper reference to Cyprus is the ‘Republic of Cyprus’ and that subsequent references could correctly be ‘Cyprus.’ It is not ‘Greek Cyprus,’ the ‘Greek part,’ the ‘Greek bit,’ nor any other of the Turkish-preferred references.”
Letter to The Guardian, 3 November 2006
“Many myths – if not outright distortions of fact – have grown around the situation on the island of Cyprus, and three of them have been included, yet again, in the FT 11 January report… the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus did not ‘reject a United Nations sponsored peace plan.’ The citizens rejected a faulty and entirely pro-Turkish suicide plan. Had the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus unwisely agreed to the Annan Plan, there would be no Republic of Cyprus. No nation willingly commits suicide…”
Letter to Financial Times, 11 January 2007
“At one time, the BBC was the benchmark by which all news organisations were measured as to accuracy and lack of bias…remarkably, the [BBC’s] ‘errors’ reflect the Turkish view of history. You refer to the massive invasion as Turkey “deploying” troops, though in 1974, the BBC correctly referred to the massive Turkish air and sea invasion of the Republic of Cyprus. Apparently, now, ‘invasion’ has become a ‘deployment of troops’… Turkey does a good job of lying about its history; it doesn’t need the help of the BBC.”
Letter to BBC Online, 5 April 2008
“Once again, Turkey distorts history and seeks to blame the Republic of Cyprus for the continuing division… The facts are simple… the United Nations decided to have a vote on 24 April, on the one-sided, pro-Turkey, Annan Plan, the last of the 9,000 pages of which was posted on the UN website at 23.59.59 on 23 April! The government controlled area of the Republic of Cyprus voted overwhelmingly against the plan. Thus, there was no relationship between the Annan Plan and the admission of the Republic of Cyprus and the nine other nations. Frankly, this is another example of Turkey’s distortion of history in order to blame the Republic for the impasse… Turkey wants to be admitted to the EU, but on its own terms. It doesn’t want to meet the established criteria which other nations have met; it doesn’t want to recognise the existence of Cyprus, a member of the EU; it doesn’t want to abide by the contents of the protocol which it has signed with the EU. In short, it seeks to blame others for its problems. Just as Turkey is the reason that it has made no progress in admission to the EU, so, too, is Turkey the reason that there is no solution to the situation in Cyprus.”
Lobby for Cyprus press release, 30 November 2011
“Constant impunity breeds arrogance, and what the world is seeing in the bellicosity of Turkey towards the Republic of Cyprus is the arrogance resulting from a history of impunity and appeasement. But what Turkey has going for it, is that just as the world stood aside and observed the illegal invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and just as the world has done nothing but talk since the continued occupation of the north with Turkey’s 45,000-strong army, it seems likely that the West will do little, if anything at all to rein in Turkey’s current activities in the area.”
Cyprus exploration of gas and oil threatened by Turkey’s actions – Lobby for Cyprus article, 2011
“As other countries applied for EU membership Cyprus swiftly met article after article of the acquis communautaire. Still, negotiations to settle the Cyprus issue were getting nowhere. So, a new tactic was undertaken: the Annan plans. Only those who have not read them would support them as being fair. …So a desperate Turkey with the help of its allies devised Annan 5, a 9,000 page ‘suicide note’ which no other country in the world would ever sign… It would deny Cyprus the right of veto; The new government would give equal power to the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, even though the Greek Cypriots constitute 80 per cent of the island’s population; The new Cypriot Supreme Court would have three Greek Cypriot judges, three Turkish Cypriot judges, and three foreign judges. Think of any country that would give to foreign judges the right to decide its most serious cases; Turkey would be permitted to have a 6,000-man army on the island, but Cyprus would only be permitted to have a police force… enough was known for the plan to be defeated resoundingly… If nothing else has been learned… the Republic of Cyprus has finally learned that it has no friends in this world.”
The Cyprus issue: here yesterday, today, tomorrow – Lobby for Cyprus article, 2013
“Your choice of words in your report on Cyprus says much about your bias… Nicos Anastasiades is not the Greek Cypriot president; he is president of the Republic of Cyprus – a vast, vast difference. ‘Greek Cypriot president’ is the Turkish reference, and shows your source… when you refuse to refer to the Republic, you reinforce the bias…over the nearly 40 years of illegal occupation, it has been only the Cyprus government that has made any concessions. These concessions include the downright dangerous – bi-communal/bi-zonal agreement that creates an equality between the (approximate) 80 per cent Greeks and the 18 per cent Turkish Cypriots. If you will take the time to do the research, you will see that Turkey has made no concessions…There is a very simple solution to the division of the island. The Turks leave the island and take with them the 43,000-man army of occupation… and it permits all refugees… to return to their homes. Of course, the discovery of the vast hydrocarbon deposits off the south coast of the island makes Turkey extra mad. When the Republic reaps the financial advantage of the find, all the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus will benefit.”
Letter to The Guardian, 3 June 2013
“…with Turkey’s much-vaunted policy of ‘zero problems with neighbours’ in shreds throughout the Middle East… Turkey has decided to divert the world’s attention from these failures by taking what it expects will be unchallenged provocative moves around Cyprus… Just as its actions, forty years ago, were inconsistent with its NATO membership, so, too, is this intrusion into Cyprus’s territorial waters… It is fair to ask just how much more Turkey can do to bring disgrace to NATO’s credibility and reputation.”
Lobby for Cyprus press release, 30 October 2014
“…the world seems to have failed to notice that the fox has been given the keys to the chicken coop… Turkey was named chair of the world heritage committee of UNESCO… This is the same country that has been charged with the desecration and destruction of more than 500 Christian and Jewish sites in the illegally occupied north of Cyprus…”
Lobby for Cyprus press release, 11 September 2015
“…such optimism can only be short-lived while Ankara continues to assert itself from behind the scenes. It is a bully which remains the hidden hand behind Mr Akinci and is the occupying power in the northern area of the island… Erdogan was spelling out to Mr Akinci that he is not a free agent to negotiate a Cyprus solution; that it is not for Mr Akinci but his masters in Turkey to decide the fate of Turkish Cypriots. As Mr Akinci has been finding out, woe betide any Turkish Cypriot representative who dares to oppose Ankara. It is clear that the occupied north is under the firm thumb of Turkey and that the route to a Cyprus solution is via Ankara and not Nicosia… as long as Ankara asserts itself as a bully, there cannot be a just and viable settlement to the Cyprus issue.”
Lobby for Cyprus press release, 13 October 2015
“Turkey believes in the ‘territorial integrity of nations’ except when it doesn’t; it believes in the inviolability of a nation’s airspace, except when it doesn’t; it believes in minorities in government, except when it doesn’t… the West has tolerated Turkish hypocrisy, as a matter of course… Is it not time that the West asked Turkey to practice what it preaches?”
Lobby for Cyprus press release, 13 October 2015
“The intent of the Ottomans was to eliminate all its Christians to create a Turks-only country… and used the war to cover its killings… the Turks use many stories to justify what they call the ‘relocation’ of the Armenians… fantastic nonsense none of which was noted at the time in contemporaneous reports and none of which has been corroborated since… According to various sources, between 1 and 1.5 million Ottoman Greeks throughout Asia Minor perished from 1914-1923… Many Armenian Genocide survivors managed to get to Cyprus, where they renewed their lives and made valuable contributions to Cyprus. Sadly, with the Turkish invasion and illegal occupation of the north… many of those Armenians and their descendants were forced to flee with their Greek neighbours.”
Lobby for Cyprus press release, 22 April 2015
“The impunity granted to Turkey must come to an end, the law
must be enforced and justice must be served…”
Lobby for Cyprus press release 19 July 2016