Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus Chrysostomos II has said that Turkish Cypriots that constitute a minority of 18% in Cyprus cannot hold the Presidency of the island, when Greek Cypriots have the majority of 82%.
In a speech in the framework of a mass he officiated in Nicosia, the Archbishop said that there should be no insistence on the system of rotating presidency, in the framework of efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, “unless they prove to us that there is a country where 18% of the population elects the President of the country. Then we will go and vote for (Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa) Akinci to become the President of the Republic of Cyprus,” the head of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus said.
In statements afterwards and asked by journalists if he has expressed his concerns as regards the Cyprus problem to President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades and the political party leaders, the Archbishop said he has told the President and the party leaders that a solution with provisions such as the rotating presidency will not be approved by the people, adding that “everyone understands this.”
He noted that the President told him on several occasions that he will not bring before the people a plan that the people will not accept.
As regards the issue of illegal settlers, in Cyprus` Turkish occupied areas, the Archbishop said that those married with Turkish Cypriots should be able to stay for humanitarian reasons, but the others should leave the island.
The Archbishop also referred in his speech to the turbulent situation and the wars in the Middle East, noting that Christianity needs to continue to exist in this area of the world where it was born and that the Orthodox Church will continue to make efforts to this end.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. President Anastasiades and Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks since May last year, with a view to reunify the island under a federal roof.
The island gained its independence from the UK in 1960. A 1960 census showed that Cyprus had a population of 572,707 consisting of 77.1% Greek Cypriots, 18.2% Turkish Cypriots, 1.1% Maronites, Armenians and Latins, and 3.6% others. According to the 1960 Constitution, the Armenian, Maronite and Latin religious groups opted to be part of the Greek Cypriot community.