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First Cypriot born on EU accession day 2004 joins anniversary celebrations

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Kyriacos Yiallourides, was the first Cypriot born on May 1, 2004

Cyprus was among 10 other countries which were honoured at a ceremony on Wednesday to celebrate 20 years since acceding to the European Union, ahead of the May 1 anniversary.

At a moving event held at the EU parliament in Strasbourg to celebrate the largest-ever enlargement of the bloc in 2004, 10 young people from each of the accession countries asked officials, who were part of the accession, questions about the importance of joining the EU.

Speaking at the ceremony on behalf of Cyprus, Kyriacos Yiallourides, the first Cypriot born on May 1, 2004, asked then foreign minister George Iacovou: “You were foreign minister of Cyprus on May 1, 2004. Can you describe Cypriots’ expectations during the road to accession and do you think they have been met?”

Responding Iacovou thanked Yiallourides for being present and taking part in the ceremony.

“In our small country, Cyprus, we knew how exposed we were economically and geopolitically. Above all Cypriots hoped for security and stability. Today, we feel that we have both,” he said.

Commenting on the youth at the time, he said that the younger generations then were excited to have opportunities to study, work and live abroad in the country of their choosing.

“Today, we are proud that the flow of EU citizens moves in both directions,” he said.

Referring to the Cyprus problem, he said that in 2004 there was hope Cyprus would have joined the EU reunified, but that it didn’t happen.

April 24, 2004 is also the 20th anniversary of the Annan Plan referendums which the Greek Cypriots rejected by 76 per cent, while 64.9 per cent of Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the plan. The Greek Cypriot rejection did not prevent the Republic acceding to the European Union a week later.

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Former Foreign Minister George Iacovou speaking to Kyriacos Yiallourides

“However, the EU is characterised by breaking down borders, where former enemies become friends,” Iacovou said.

He added that he is of the older generation and he hopes that Yiallourides’ generation will be able to achieve a solution, where the bygone ones could not.

In a comment in a video created for the ceremony, Yiallourides said: “I hope more countries continue to join the EU to give a message of peace for the European continent.”

Also speaking at the ceremony, EU Parliament president Roberta Metsola discussed her own experience of joining the EU in 2004.

“Twenty years ago, I was standing in Valletta – with what felt like the entire country, staring across the sea towards our Grand Harbour just as we saw in the video. We were counting down the minutes and seconds until Malta together with Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the European Union as member states.

“I will always remember that huge crowd awash with the understanding of unbridled possibility, hope and belief in the future,” she said.

She commented on the benefits of being part of the EU and the single market and equal access to the rights afforded to EU citizens.

But she added: “Europe does not seek to make everyone the same. We are proud of our differences. Proud of our unique traditions, our cultures, our languages and our diversity. We have proven that over the past 20 years.

“Rather, Europe is about embracing differences while ensuring equality of opportunity. Everyone must have the same chance, not necessarily the same viewpoint. That is our strength. That is our Europe. And that is why membership is a win-win for all.”

 

 

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