President Nicos Anastasiades hailed the biggest achievements he said his administration managed to accomplish, including measures tackling corruption, the national health service and a strong economy.
Speaking at a reception and dinner organised in his honour at a central London hotel on Saturday evening by the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, he summarized his two-term presidency saying he feels “satisfaction and, humbly, pride” for the state in which he leaves the country.
The event also celebrated 60 years since the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, although belatedly as it had to be postponed twice – once due to the pandemic and then for Queen Elizabeth’s death.
Addressing the 500 distinguished guests, he made special reference to the economic strength of Cyprus “as recognised by the European Commission, the IMF, but also the international rating agencies”, which came as a result of “painful but responsible decisions” and a “wise fiscal policy”.
He also highlighted as his administration’s achievements, inter alia, the effective mechanisms of protecting the most vulnerable in the community; the “biggest social reform” that is the new national health service; the measures towards tackling corruption; the development projects totalling more than €4.5 billion; the upgrade of the country’s defence shielding; and the “multifaceted and reliable” foreign policy which has safeguarded Cyprus as a state entity and has made her “a pillar of stability and peace”.
On the Cyprus problem, Anastasiades said he would be “happier” if he was speaking as the president of a reunited country. However, he went on to say, “despite mine and my predecessors’ copious efforts, Turkey continues to demonstrate for almost five decades the same intransigent and unacceptable stance.”
This stance, he added, reveal Ankara’s intention to either turn Cyprus into a protectorate under its control or achieve the permanent division of the island through upgrading the illegal entity in the occupied north of the island.
In closing, Anastasiades assured his audience that “despite Turkey’s provocative and intransigent stance, we will never accept and will never allow the abolishment of the Republic of Cyprus.”
The British Minister for Europe Leo Docherty also addressed the gathering, praising the President for strengthening the bilateral ties between the UK and Cyprus over the last decade.
The minister also reiterated the UK government’s support for “a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement” to the Cyprus issue and its commitment to the UN-led efforts to that direction. As he said, such a settlement would enhance investment, trade and tourism, securing a more stable future for everyone.
The Shadow Minister for Europe Stephen Doughty hailed the “immeasurable” contribution of the Cypriot diaspora in the UK’s social fabric and recommitted his and the Labour Party’s support to a Cyprus settlement based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality.
He described Cyprus as “a stable, secure and crucial ally in so many areas”, adding that Anastasiades has worked hard to strengthen the bilateral ties.
The guests were welcomed to the event by the host, the head of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK Christo Karaolis.
He referred to the Cypriot community’s long-standing contribution to the UK’s “success story” as well as its love and steadfast support for Cyprus, and then he conveyed the community’s gratitude for Anastasiades’ “unstinting support”.
“Τhe national federation continues to ensure that the Cyprus issue remains on the political and parliamentary agenda by frequently engaging with the government, opposition, all UK parliamentary parties, individual parliamentarians and of course providing the Secretariat for the 48-member strong, All Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus (APPG),” concluded Karaolis.
He, on behalf of the federation, and Sir Roger Gale MP, head of the APPG, awarded Anastasiades two commemorative plaques.
In his remarks Sir Roger said that the President of the Republic is “a man of enormous determination” that has not shied away from difficult decisions. He then assured the Cypriots that the APPG “will stand for you, fight for you and support you for as long as it takes.”
The dinner was attended, among others, by the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain Nikitas, the Republic of Cyprus’ High Commissioner to London Andreas Kakouris, the Greek ambassador Ioannis Raptakis and many pro-Cypriot members of the British Parliament apart from the ones already mentioned: Theresa Villiers, Dr Matthew Offord, Bambos Charalambous, Caroline Nokes, Mike Freer, Fabian Hamilton, Mike Wood, Feryal Clark, Lord Adonis and Lord Renard., as well as distinguished UK Cypriot businessmen, entrepreneurs, academics, scientists and professionals.