Children from primary schools around Cyprus sang Christmas carols to President Nikos Christodoulides and First Lady Philippa Karsera on Monday at the presidential palace.

Welcoming the children and their teachers, the couple wished the students and their families happy holidays and a bright future ahead.

He made special reference to students who attended from enclaved Rizokarpaso. “As the holiday season approaches all we can think of, is that the joyful message of the birth of God will not be heard, across the entire island this year yet again,” he said.

“Some of our churches will remain silent, some of our schools will continue to remain in ruins for almost half a century afterwards.”

Christodoulides stressed that despite the challenges surrounding efforts to resume talks on the Cyprus problem, he remained committed and “determined to fight to achieve our goal”.

He pledged he wanted to give the future generations a better future to come, adding that “when we work collectively, we can tackle difficult challenges,” such as the 2013 financial crisis.

Other students were from the primary schools of Ayious Omologites, Ayiou Vasiliou, Makedonitisa A, Engomi A, Ayios Dometios, Pernera, Archangelou and children from the deaf school and the private singing school Ifigenias Christodoulou.