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Cyprus Celebrates Independence Day
2008-10-02 13:04:28

Nicosia, Oct 1 – President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias said in Nicosia Wednesday that the Greek Cypriot side pursues the peaceful reunification of the island on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.

He was speaking after the military parade in Nicosia to honor the 48th anniversary of the nation’s independence.

President Christofias, flanked by Greek National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and Cypriot Defense Minister Costas Papacostas, took the salute of the parade, watched by the island’s political, military and religious leadership as well as members of the diplomatic corps and thousands of people who waived in pride the Cypriot flag.

President Christofias said that ''the Republic of Cyprus was and remains a common possession of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.''

''We peacefully aim to reunify our country, to spare it from occupation and settlement and to live free under the roof of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots with no foreign military presence,'' President Christofias said.

He added that ''we are fighting consistently, for a democratic Cyprus with the human rights of every citizen, regardless of the language he or she speaks and the God they believe in, to be safeguarded.''

''Our aim is not to corner anyone but to make the [Turkish] occupation regime reason and to understand that the withdrawal of its forces and a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem will benefit it too, if it wants to proceed towards the EU,'' President Christofias said.

The President congratulated all who contributed to the impressive parade and expressed hope that ''soon we will no longer need an army'' adding however that ''as long the army is needed we will maintain it and train it so that it gets better.''

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 defense services.

The Cyprus Police band led the parade, before taking its place opposite the officials to play military marches for the duration of the parade.

Russian MI35 helicopters flew over the parading units, applauded by spectators. French Gazelle lightweight utility helicopters also flew past the parade.

The parade was followed by a reception for the public, hosted by President Christofias and First Lady Elsi Christofia at the Presidential Palace.

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