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Opposition concerns ‘baseless and unjustified’, says president

Students take part in the Ochi Day parade

CONCERNS of political parties as regards the settlement negotiations are mostly baseless and unjustified, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters following the service in St John’s Cathedral in Nicosia to mark the anniversary of the Greek resistance against the Axis powers during WWII, the president said that this day should serve as an example to all that whenever Hellenism was united, it enjoyed victories and glory that the nation achieved on October 28, 1940.

The anniversary, or Ochi Day, marks the rejection by the then Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas of the ultimatum given by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on October 28, 1940, who had demanded that the Axis powers enter Greece to take up strategic positions.

Attending the service were the Greek Ambassador to Cyprus, Ilias Fotopoulos, House speaker Demetris Syllouris, Education Minister Costas Kadis, as well as political and military officials.

“Today is a day to honour those who make us proud. It is also a day for reflection over what we should do in order to ensure the freedom of our entire nation,” president Anastasiades said.

He added that “we are under occupation and that is a reality that nobody can ignore”.  It is our duty, he said, to struggle for the reunification of the country and be rid of the Turkish occupation army.

Commenting on the concerns expressed by political parties as regards the current phase of the settlement talks, the president said that even though they are “fully respected”, many of them were “baseless and unjustified”.

“Just because we are concerned about something doesn’t mean we should be overcome by paralysing fear and remain idle for the occupation to be entrenched,” Anastasiades said.

He added that preparations are underway for the team of experts and legal advisors who will accompany him to Switzerland, where he is to discuss the chapter on territorial adjustments with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, from November 7 to 11.

The president said that on Sunday, when the National Council is to convene, “they (political party leaders) expect to be informed, and I certainly (expect) their support”. During the meeting, it will also be decided whether party leaders will accompany the president to Mont Pelerin, the Swiss resort where the talks will take place.

Anastasiades also took the salute of the parade along Vyronos (Byron) Avenue, outside the Greek Embassy, from WWII veterans, school and university students, scouts, refugee, cultural and sports associations who paraded to marches played by the National Guard and police bands.

He also sent on Thursday a telegram to Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to mark the day. In it he expressed the appreciation of the Cypriot people for the continued support from Greece on the Cyprus issue. “I am convinced that the excellent cooperation between our countries and governments at all levels will continue to give decisive impetus to achieving our common goals,” he said.

State officials represented the government in a number of church services and school parades that took place in other districts.

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