The reunification of Cyprus, the withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops and the creation of conditions for peaceful coexistence is our only option, President Nicos Anastasiades stressed on Thursday.
In statements made to the press after the military parade in Nicosia that marked the 55th anniversary of Cyprus’ independence, the President said that we need to pay tribute to all those who contributed to the establishment of our state through their sacrifices and struggles.
The President also said that we need to reflect on the past and the times we’ve been through up until now, pointing out that “this course was successful as regards our prosperity and progress, but also a time of tragic happenings due to mistakes committed as a result of interventions by third parties, but also because of mistakes made by both communities on the island.”
President Anastasiades noted that 55 years since the establishment of the Cyprus Republic, we need to reflect on the prospects ahead as well as on the existing concerns.
He went on to say that each one of us should wonder whether it is in our country`s best interest to remain divided due to the presence of occupation forces, or if it is to its benefit to evolve into a modern European state.
He stressed that our only option is the reunification of our country and the withdrawal of Turkish troops. Anastasiades reassured that the Greek Cypriot side is working to this end and expressed hope that with Turkey’s contribution it will soon become possible to end the division and get rid of the occupation army.
The President also congratulated the Defence Minister and the National Guard Chief for the excellent performance of the Armed Forces in the parade, pointing out that the army’s mission is not aggressive but defensive. Their role, he noted is in the unlikely event of threat, to defend the Republic of Cyprus as they did in the past.
He went on to say that our greatest wish is that the time comes when no troops will be needed on the island for whatever reason.
Greek National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, who represented the Greek government at the celebrations, said that Hellenism must stay united in order to achieve the immediate withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops from Cyprus and put an end to the “mockery” of guarantees.
Kammenos said that a Republic is not in need of guarantees.
Citizens themselves are the guarantor forces in a Republic, the Greek Minister said, adding that the Republic of Cyprus has proven that it can stand on its own feet.
Kammenos further noted that the international community must work in favour of a just solution on Cyprus, that will reunite the island and “will allow a future parade to take place in Rizokarpaso, in Famagusta, in Kyrenia, in the currently occupied areas” of the island.
Kammenos had visited earlier in the morning the site where the Greek airplane was shot down by friendly fire, in the wake of Turkey`s invasion, in the summer of 1974. Currently, the area is being excavated to locate the remains of Greek soldiers the “Nord Noratlas” type airplane was carrying, before it was shot down when mistakenly taken for enemy aircraft.
Kammenos was briefed on the progress of the excavations by Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues Photis Photiou and the project leader Xenophon Kallis.