The reunification of Cyprus goes through the European Union, Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos said on Tuesday during the main Europe Day event and flag-raising ceremony that took place at Eleftheria Square in Nicosia.

EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in her greeting that the European Commission reaffirms its commitment to the European values of solidarity and unity, while highlighting the symbolism of the day’s celebration in Eleftheria (Freedom) Square.

“Cyprus has been a member of the European family for almost two decades, yet Nicosia remains the only divided capital in the EU,” Kyriakides said.

“Today we celebrate Europe Day. Let’s celebrate together all that we have achieved in building a Europe of peace, prosperity, democracy and freedom for all and let’s give the promise that we will continue this way in the future for a Europe of equality, democracy and the freedom of its citizens,” she added.

Kombos said Cyprus was proud to be an EU member.

“But we must not take this achievement for granted,” he said. “The reunification of our country goes through the European Union, this is our goal and the European Union can provide catalytic assistance,” he added.

Head of the Office of the European Parliament in Cyprus Andreas Kettis said that for the second year in a row, Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine further underlined the value of peace.

He added that the EU stands with one voice on the side of Ukraine and the European Parliament was committed to doing everything it could to support the Ukrainian people. “If we want to seriously face the many and difficult challenges that the EU faces, we must realise that today the unity of Europe is more necessary than ever before,” he said.

Sweden’s Ambassador to Cyprus Martin Hakström, representing the current EU presidency, said this is the second consecutive Europe Day in the shadow of an ongoing attack on the continent. “Today is a reminder that we must continue to defend our European values and principles and stand together now, perhaps more than ever,” he said.

Nicosia Mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis also addressed the event saying that Cyprus had benefited significantly as a member state of the European Union.

“We are Europeans and we want to remain Europeans, Europe should stand by us when it comes to the important daily problems of citizens, such as immigration, growing economic inequality and the sustainability of cities,” he said.

He added that the EU must demonstrate that its strength lies in the union and, with practical solidarity, help to reduce migration flows, and stop the exploitation of migrants. Cyprus, as a country of first reception suffers a disproportionate burden, he added.