Cyprus has always been a rich mix of people, cultures, ideas, and religions, the President said
Cyprus can emerge as a model for peaceful coexistence of people of different religions and cultures, through the resolution of the Cyprus problem, President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulides, said, welcoming the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO), at the Presidential Palace on Friday.
Cyprus has always been a rich mix of people, cultures, ideas, and religions, the President said, noting that the Orthodox faith of the majority of Cypriots never turned against people who had or have a different faith. “Never, in the modern history of the island, has diversity, and especially religious diversity, been a source of tension or a dividing element between the inhabitants of Cyprus. On the contrary, many times it has worked as a refuge for peaceful coexistence, in a spirit of mutual respect for all fundamental human rights and freedoms, including of course religious ones,” he pointed out.
Through the solution of the Cyprus problem, he noted, “which is the top priority of our government, Cyprus can emerge as a model of peaceful coexistence of people of different religions and cultures. A vision that we hope, even now, will be embraced by Turkey, as well as by the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community,” President Christodoulides wished.
The President assured IAO members of his absolute commitment to the effort to end the Turkish occupation and achieve the liberation and reunification of Cyprus through a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem.
“A solution that should be based on the relevant UN Resolutions and Security Council Decisions and in line with the principles and values of the European Union, of which Cyprus is a member state and will continue to be after a possible solution to the Cyprus problem,” he said, adding that the solution should create an independent and truly sovereign state, free from any anachronistic guarantees, the presence of occupying troops, but also the military presence of any third country.
He noted, however, that a functional and viable solution cannot be unbalanced. “It cannot give such privileges or powers to one of the two communities in a way that violates the law, basic principles and values that are valid or applied in no other country,” he stressed.
Referring to IAO, the President noted that its contribution is extremely important on the modern global dialogue on human rights, the peaceful coexistence of peoples and the collective response to other regional and international problems that go beyond the narrow borders of states.
Highlighting the importance of parliamentary diplomacy, he spoke of promising and optimistic results, “especially, when this effort is based on common values, such as those advocated by the Orthodox faith, namely Humanism, Peace, Democracy and Justice,” he added.
President Christodoulides thanked the IAO for the principles it maintains towards the Republic of Cyprus through the repeated adoption of resolutions, with which it expresses in various ways its support for the just struggle of Cyprus in general, but also in particular for specific aspects of the Cyprus problem, such as the destruction of religious and cultural heritage in the occupied territories. He also expressed the support of Cyprus, the Cypriot House of Representatives, to IAO’s efforts and actions.
Secretary General of the IAO, Maximos Charakopoulos and the head of the Cypriot delegation, MP Panikos Leonidou, invited the President of the Republic to the presentation of the volume “Hagia Sophia: the churches of the Wisdom of God around the world” which will be presented on Saturday in Limassol, presenting the President with a copy of the volume.
Charakopoulos, referring to the Cyprus problem, noted that “Ankara, which follows a revisionist policy towards its neighbours, integrated into the ideology of the Neo-Ottomanism, has not shown any willingness to contribute to solving the problem.” He expressed the hope for the peace talks to restart, based on the UN decisions, “with the more active involvement of the EU,” as he said.
“We all look forward to the day when Cyprus will be united, without occupying troops, without the outdated guarantees, with full equality for all citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, which will prosper within the European family”, he added.
Leonidou made special reference to the presence of the Vice-President of the Lebanese Parliament, whose presence in Cyprus through the IAO “made it possible to promote Cyprus’ relations with Lebanon”, after the meeting he held with the President of the Republic on Thursday. He also noted the Cyprus delegation has been contributing to the development of this fruitful religious diplomacy in promoting common goals and principles and highlighting the problem of Cyprus since the invasion and occupation of Turkey.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.