The only way forward is the way of peace, said the President Nikos Christodoulides in a televised address to the public on Sunday, on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Cyprus.

In his message, Christodoulides first paid tribute to all those who fought and sacrificed themselves for the liberation of the country from colonial rule which led to the creation of the Republic of Cyprus. All those fighters who paid the price, even with their own lives, should be honoured, so that this small homeland could become a sovereign state entity, he noted.

The President went on to state that we also owe tribute to those who, following the creation of the Republic of Cyprus, fought to protect legality but also to face Turkey’s invasion in 1974 which caused the greatest blow to the country, with nearly 37 per cent of its territory still under occupation after half a century. “The uprooting, the displacement and creation of refugees, our enclaved and our missing persons, the economic disaster, were the harsh reality that our parents, our people, had to face in the aftermath of Turkey’s invasion”, he said.

But, he continued, “in spite of the catastrophe and the great misfortunes we must rightly acknowledge with pride that the people of Cyprus did not get intimidated, did not give up, did not forget. They marched on and fought without compromising with injustice, strengthening the foundations of the Republic of Cyprus and achieving its accession to the European Union in 2004”.

Despite the destruction and suffering, the people of Cyprus have managed to thrive and to turn the Republic of Cyprus into a modern European state, a pillar of stability and security in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider Middle East, Christodoulides added.

“A European state that respects and implements the principles and values of the EU defends international law and human rights, and through hard work and persistence addresses any challenges.”

He pointed out that “it is imperative to become free of the occupation and division, and the only way to achieve that is to intensify our efforts, to correctly read international developments, to comprehend geostrategic balances, and to shield the international status of the Republic of Cyprus through strengthening all the contributing power factors of the state, as well as to further enhance its role in the region”.

He added that the only way forward is “the way of peace, of continuing every effort to break the current deadlock on the Cyprus problem and to resume the talks as soon as possible in order to achieve a solution on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions, on the EU principles and values, a solution of a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality as described in the relevant UN resolutions”.

Addressing the Turkish Cypriots, Christodoulides said “I want to assure them that I will do my utmost so that Cyprus, our common homeland, will be reunited and as a full EU member state, which it is, to utilize in its entirety the prospects that will be created”.

But for this goal to be achieved, he added, “the Turkish side must change its approach and return to the negotiating table with genuine will, so that a functional and lasting solution is achieved, always within the framework of the decisions and resolutions of the UNSC, and the EU values and principles”.

He added that he expects that the readiness expressed by the Security Council and the UN Secretary-General to appoint an envoy who will examine the prospects for the resumption of the talks will become a reality with the acceptance of the proposal by the Turkish side.

In conclusion, Christodoulides said that “as the new government, our main priority and highest goal is to create hope and prospects for all the people of Cyprus”.