President Anastasiades yesterday called for national unity during “without a doubt the most critical period since the 1974 Turkish invasion.”
In his televised speech on the occasion of Cyprus’ 53rd Independence Day, Anastasiades said that it was time to look to the future.
“We have never before had to face so many collective challenges and so many dead ends on a national, economic and social level,” the President said.
He added: “It is time, objectively appraising the past, to unite and look to the future, to move ahead, to gather up our strength and give new life to our homeland.”
These efforts, Anastasiades said would be based on four pillars:
The first is: “Transforming and regrouping our state. The state of 1960 has completed its circle of life. The time has come for us to build a new model of government that will respond to the challenges of the new age.”
The second is handling the financial crisis “collectively and with discipline creating conditions for development.”
The third is restructuring foreign policy based on new global conditions and Cyprus’ role as a member of the EU.
“Our ultimate priority has to remain ending the occupation and reuniting our land under conditions that will allow all Cypriots to live in peace,” he said of the fourth axis.
Addressing the Turkish Cypriots, Anastasiades said that while they should “take for granted our sincere will and determination to find a solution”.
They must not expect that “it will ever be possible for us to accept a solution that will not fulfil the expectation of the Greek Cypriots” or allow any Cypriot to become second class EU citizens.
He concluded by saying he hoped this Independence Day would herald the start of a new, better time.
In his Independence Day address, House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou noted that the occasion was an opportunity to honour and express gratitude for all those who had lost their lives in the struggle for independence.
Education Minister Kyriacos Kenevezos’ address was read out at all state schools yesterday.
The minister said: “This is a day to fully realise our obligation to serve democracy correctly and always having the best possible future for our children as our goal.”
Greece’s Ambassador Vasilis Papaioannou said: “We stand in admiration and pride before the strength, determination and persistence with which the people of Cyprus, after winning the difficult battle for independence and going on to be brutally wounded by the Turkish invasion, managed to achieve so much.”
Independence Day is traditionally marked with military parades but there will be no tanks this year.