Archbishop Chrysostomos said on Sunday that Turkish Cypriots, who constituted a minority of 18 per cent in Cyprus could not hold the presidency of the island when Greek Cypriots have the majority of 82 per cent.
The rotating presidency is an outstanding aspect of the current Cyprus negotiations with both side drawing ‘red lines’ on the issue.
During a speech at a mass in Nicosia, the Archbishop said that there should be no insistence on the system of rotating presidency, “unless they prove to us that there is a country where 18 pet cent of the population elects the president of the country.”
“Then we will go and vote for (Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa) Akinci to become the President of the Republic of Cyprus,” he added.
In statements afterwards, and asked by journalists if he had expressed his concerns to President Nicos Anastasiades and the political party leaders, the Archbishop said he had told the president and the party leaders that a solution with provisions such as the rotating presidency would not be approved by the people, adding that “everyone understands this.”
He noted that the president told him on several occasions that he would not bring before the people a plan that the people would not accept.
As regards the issue of settlers in the north, the Archbishop said that those married to Turkish Cypriots should be able to stay for humanitarian reasons, but the others should leave the island.
A 1960 census showed that Cyprus had a population of 572,707 consisting of 77.1 per cent Greek Cypriots, 18.2 per cent Turkish Cypriots, 1.1 per cent Maronites, Armenians and Latins, and 3.6 per cent others. According to the 1960 Constitution, the Armenian, Maronite and Latin religious groups opted to be part of the Greek Cypriot community.
However the demographics have shifted dramatically since then with going on a million residents of whom around 80 per cent have Cypriot citizenship. The two leaders have agreed that the population of the north for the purposes of a settlement would be fixed at 220,000 and the Greek Cypriot population would be 802,000.
The Archbishop also referred in his speech to the turbulent situation and the wars in the Middle East, noting that Christianity needed to continue to exist in this area of the world where it was born, and that the Orthodox Church would continue to make efforts to this end.