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Cyprus marks 45 years of independence
2005-10-03 13:44:35

Nicosia, Oct 1 (CNA) -- The Republic of Cyprus marks today 45 years since it gained its independence from British colonial rule, with a military parade and other events.

President Tassos Papadopoulos took the salute, flanked by Defence Minister Kyriakos Mavronikolas and Greek National Defence Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos, representing the Greek government.

In brief statements after the 45-minute long parade, President Papadopoulos said his objective is to establish peace in Cyprus through a functional and just political settlement.

''As long as this solution is delayed because of Turkey's intransigence or Turkish refusal to negotiate in a substantive manner, it is our duty and priority to strengthen our defences,'' he added.

In this, he continued, Greece is a firm supporter and associate.

Welcoming warmly the presence of the Greek Minister, Papadopoulos said this sends a message of encouragement, enthousiasm and satisfaction to Cypriot Hellenism. ''I wish to congratulate the National Guard leadership for the work it carries out. I express love, care and concern for those serving in the armed forces,'' he concluded.

The Greek Minister congratulated all participants in today's parade, noting they had displayed once more that ''Cyprus' defence and security is in very good hands.''

''Greece stands by Cyprus in its just battle for the reunification of the island through a viable, just and functional solution in line with the acquis communautaire and UN resolutions,'' he said.

He wished the 45-year-old Republic well and assured that Greece would continue to support its just struggle to achieve its goals.

Cyprus' Defence Minister said this month's annual military exercise of the National Guard, Nikiforos, is being prepared.

''The final decision is likely to be taken in the coming days,'' he said, when asked whether Nikiforos will in fact take place.

Responding to questions on the Greek military exercise Toxotis, which takes place in conjuction with Nikiforos, he said he was talking about this matter with his Greek counterpart and added that the respective foreign ministries are also discussing the issue.

The island's political leadership, top military brass, civil and religious leaders, representatives of the foreign diplomatic corps and thousands of people watched the military parade.

Participating in today's parade were infantry, artillery and naval forces and members of the Greek military contingent stationed in Cyprus in accordance with the 1960 Treaty of Establishment of the Republic, the police, the fire brigade, the forestry and the civil defence services.

Commando units, naval forces and various branches of the Republic's armed forces also paraded.

A 21 gun-salute was fired at dawn and will be repeated at sunset.

President Papadopoulos and First Lady Fotini will host a reception for the public this evening at the Presidential Palace. Earlier President Papadopoulos will receive the congratulations of the diplomatic and consular corps.

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