President Demetris Christofias has expressed his commitment to finding a political settlement in Cyprus, saying that he would be the most unhappy person in the world if the problem is not resolved during his term in office.
According to an official press release issued here Friday, President Christofias, who is currently on an official visit to Australia, has arrived in Melbourne accompanied by his wife Elsie Christoias, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou, Cyprus’ High Commissioner to Australia Yannis Iacovou and other officials where he met with Victoria Premier Ted Baillieu.
Addressing a lunch given in his honour by Baillieu after the meeting, President Christofias said that “Cyprus and its people deserve a better future”, adding that “I wish to reassure my compatriots that I dedicate my whole being, all my strength towards this end; It is the main reason I submitted my candidature to become President of the Republic” in 2008.
“I will be the least happy person in the world, if the Cyprus problem is not resolved during my term of office” in two years’ time, he stressed.
The solution, he pointed out, has to be lasting, viable and based on principles which are respected and implemented by everybody, including freedom, unity and demilitarisation within a federal Republic of Cyprus.
Speaking of Melbourne, he noted that “multiculturalism flourished in this city and this constitutes a very good example for us Cypriots”.
“I have always advocated co-existence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. This is a must if we wish to be free of outside interventions coming from many directions,” he said.
President Christofias said that the geographical position of Cyprus is very important and many powers are interested in using Cyprus to serve their own interests. Usually, he added, this is disastrous for the country because interventions have led to tragedies for its people.
Referring to Cypriots in Australia, he said they have contributed to multiculturalism and the development of this wonderful country, adding that “Australia resembles heaven on earth, it is blessed by nature”.
Speaking of his visit, the President said the meetings he has had with the political leadership were productive and reaffirmed the close ties and the friendly relations between the two countries and the two peoples.
President Christofias also expressed his gratitude towards Australia, saying that “at times of hardship Australia has stood by us and continues to do so, maintaining a position of principles based on international law and the UN Charter”.
Australia, he underlined, “honours United Nations resolutions and fights on our side for a just and viable solution”.
In order to achieve such a solution, he added, the occupation of Cyprus’ northern part must come to an end because Turkey’s foreign military intervention and the occupation of more than one third of the country’s territory is the essence of the problem.
The President expressed his gratitude to Baillieu for his warm hospitality and extended an invitation to him to visit Cyprus.
In his address, Baillieu spoke of the multiculturalism of Melbourne, saying that it is not only the most multicultural city in Australia but also in the entire world.
Relations between the peoples of Australia and Cyprus are very warm, he said, adding that they are based on relations between people, on history and on civilization.
The two countries share the same democratic values, he noted.
The Cypriot community in Victoria is the largest in Australia, he said, adding that it plays an important role. He noted that in recognition of the Cypriot community’s contribution, the State of Victoria has donated 100 thousand dollars towards a festival organised in celebration of the 80th anniversary since the founding of the Cypriot Association of Melbourne.
He also noted that there are opportunities of further increasing tourism between the two countries, adding that the opening of CTO offices in Victoria would be welcomed.
After the lunch, President Christofias met with Victoria Governor Alex Chernov and is also due to visit the Cyprus Community premises in Melbourne.
Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion in 1974. UN led negotiations have been underway between President Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader in an effort to reunite the island under a federal roof.