President of the Republic Demetris Christofias has shown great courage and leadership in tackling the Cyprus problem, South Australia Premier Mike Rann said on Thursday, after his meeting with President Christofias in Adelaide, where the President is paying a state visit.
Speaking to the press after the meeting, President Christofias said that “my meeting with Premier Rann was one of the warmest meetings ever, since I talk to a person who passionately supports the rights of Cyprus and all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike. He is a strong fighter against the occupation and the violation of human rights, and the violation of Cyprus’ independence and territorial integrity.”
He added that Rann stands by the side of Cyprus both at the national and the international level and noted that today’s meeting confirmed their warm friendship, cooperation and common efforts.
On his part, Premier Rann said that he has been involved in Australia but also internationally in support of the struggle of the Republic of Cyprus for justice in terms of the Cyprus problem. “My government is the first government in the world outside of Cyprus to take legal action against the Turkish authorities for the illegal disposition of properties owned by South Australian Cypriots,” he added.
He noted that his position is based on human rights. “The occupation continues to be illegal. I was very concerned when I heard there was support in some quarters for Turkey to join the European Union. That would be a good thing but that means that Turkey has to abide by human rights, including the decisions of the European Human Rights Court,“ he pointed out.
Rann said President Christofias has shown enormous courage and leadership in tackling the Cyprus problem. “An interesting thing for me is to see so many demonstrations in the occupied side by good and decent Turkish Cypriots who want a resolution of these matters, they don’t want to live under oppression, they do not want to live in dire economic circumstances,“ he said.
He said he has never been opposed to Turkish people either in Turkey or here in Australia. “I am a great believer in human rights and multiculturalism but what we see in Cyprus now is Turkish Cypriots now speaking out, a great risk for themselves, saying they want a resolution, they want one Cyprus and one Cyprus which stands for its character, its history, its traditions as well as its economic future,“ Rann noted.
He note that he assured the President that he has good friends in Australia who will continue to fight for justice for the Cyprus cause and that cause means the Republic of Cyprus being the authority that manages the entire island.
“I have had problems over the years, I have been criticized by Turkish authorities for my strong stand but ultimately I will continue to support justice for Cyprus and that means Greek Cypriots but also justice for Turkish Cypriots who are now speaking out increasingly in demonstrations in favor of a resolution, in favor of one Cyprus, one justice and one law,” he said.
Later on Christofias had a meeting and lunch with the Governor of South Australia Kevin Scarce and visited a winery.
Afterwards he will visit the Cypriot brotherhood in Adelaide, where he will lay the foundation of the community`s new centre with Premier Rann.
Before flying from Canberra to Adelaide this morning, Christofias laid a wreath at the Greek Monument in Canberra.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Talks are currently underway between the leaders of the two communities to reunify the island.