By George Psyllides
President Nicos Anastasiades said on Saturday he was fully convinced that the effort to reunify the island currently underway was a real window of opportunity.
“I am not saying it’s the last chance,” he said in a speech read by Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides during an anti-occupation event in Famagusta. “I think however, that it is the last chance to solve the Cyprus problem before its form is changed forever.”
Anastasiades said it was his conviction that resolving the long-standing problem was now the demand of the Cypriot people in its entirety.
“I never doubted the intentions of the Greek Cypriots,” he said, adding that in the Turkish-occupied north there was also a movement demanding a solution.
The election of Mustafa Akinci as the leader of the Turkish Cypriots was a clear expression of this demand, he said.
The president said he was not claiming there would never again be a similar combination of circumstances to settle the problem.
“What I cannot responsibly assure the Cypriot people is that the new conjuncture would be better than the current one,” he said.
Time was not a neutral factor, he said, 41 years of occupation have created new facts, which have changed important ingredients of the solution sought by Greek Cypriots.
The current conjuncture was a win-win for everyone, he said.
“Our historic responsibility is to restore the historical continuity in our country, reinstate the historical course of events and recompose the social fibre, which was violently broken in 1974.”
For Famagusta (Varosha) that objective would only be achieved with its return to its residents.
“To be precise (it would be) the most important confidence building measure because the return of the captive town would constitute the clearest sign that Turkey really means what it says regarding its intentions in resolving the Cyprus problem,” the president said.
Varosha is under the control of the Turkish military and has been a ‘ghost city’ since its Greek Cypriot inhabitants fled in August 1974 as Turkish troops advanced.
Also speaking at the event, Varosha Mayor Alexis Galanos said it was time to take off the mask and be honest with the people about the options that were on the table.
One was a bizonal, bicommunal, federal solution; the other was a continuation of the current situation and the solidification of partition.
Galanos said the people should know the real dilemmas so as not to get lost in those of a personal or party context.
“Either we take the path of a solution, or we get stuck in occupation and economic misery,” he said. “Unfortunately, for a larger section of our youth the dilemma now is solution or migration.”
Galanos sought to relay a message of optimism based on Greek Cypriot will on one hand, and potential Turkish Cypriot will on the other “to advance towards a common future and vision for our country.”
He said the message from the talks was that the two sides were co-operating instead of fighting and were sharing the common vision of a peaceful and free Cyprus.
“I feel that this time we must surpass ourselves. The countdown to the solution, ending the occupation, and liberating our country, can and must start,” Galanos said.