Cyprus on Sunday celebrated its 63rd anniversary of independence, with the annual parade in Nicosia attracting scores of people who waived Cypriot and Greek flags.

The parade began at 11am with the national guard tanks and aircraft leading the way, as well as police officers.

President Nikos Christodoulides attended the event, along with President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, who is in Cyprus for an official visit.

The president described Cyprus as “the most precious thing we have” and vowed to protect it above all else.

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Photo: Christos Theodorides

“We will not only protect it, but we will strengthen it even more, by strengthening the economy, the institutions, its international status, but above all we will work for the end of the occupation, for the liberation of our homeland, based on the agreed framework”, he underlined.

Christodoulides added that despite the challenges, “we are not moving away from the effort of reuniting our homeland.”

“We will do everything possible to achieve this goal and together with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots we will take full advantage of the prospects created through the reunification of the country, through a functioning state”.

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Photo: Christos Theodorides

Asked about Metsola’s presence at the military parade, Christodoulides said this sends a clear message that the Republic of Cyprus is not alone. “We have the EU as our supporter. The EU is the strongest safety net for the entire Cypriot people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. In this effort to restart the talks from where they left off in the summer of 2017, the EU is our most important ally”, he underlined.

Responding to another question, the president noted that process is currently underway towards the appointment, by the Secretary-General of UN, of an envoy who will explore the prospects of resuming talks, if this is accepted by the Turkish side.

Asked to send a message to the Turkish Cypriots, Christodoulides stressed that the Republic of Cyprus is our common homeland. “Certainly, without the resolution of the Cyprus problem, the ones who are lost are the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. So we extend a hand of friendship to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots to work together to reunite our homeland and achieve what I mentioned above: to fully utilize all that a reunited homeland, an EU member state, can offer us”.

The Republic of Cyprus gained its independence from the British Empire in 1960, after a four-year anti-colonial struggle.

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Photo: Christos Theodorides

Greek Defence Minister Nikos Dendias attended the parade representing the Greek government. He was accompanied by General Konstantinos Floros, chief of Greece’s national defence guard.

Dendias pledged Greece was by the side of Cypriots, noting that true independence is a continuous commitment to safeguarding the rights and aspirations of the nation, within the framework of the European acquis, democracy, human rights, respect for borders and of the treaties of international law and the law of the sea.

In an written statement congratulating Cyprus for its independence, King Charles said “I look forward to the continuing warm friendship and the strong and close partnership between our two countries.

“The deep connections between our people have been – and will continue to be – key to ensuring we work together for the benefit of future generations.”

The president had earlier laid a wreath at the imprisoned graves in Nicosia.

Christodoulides and his wife hosted a reception to diplomats in Cyprus.

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Photo: Christos Theodorides