President Christofias Says Solution Must Serve All Cypriots
Nicosia, Oct 25 - The solution of the Cyprus problem must allow all Cypriots to live and work together in an independent and prosperous country within the European Union, without the presence of foreign troops and illegal settlers, in conditions of security where everyone’s origin will be respected, President Demetris Christofias has stressed, in his address at Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting in Beijing during a session on “Deepening Dialogue Among Civilizations.”
He said that since 1974, the cultural heritage of Cyprus in the northern part of the island, which remains under Turkish military occupation, has been severely damaged.
“Despite the systematic efforts of the Republic of Cyprus to restore and preserve its religious and cultural heritage, the occupation authorities refuse to allow us access to carry out the necessary restoration work in the occupied areas,” the President added.
“We strongly believe that it is our duty as well as the duty of the international community to do its utmost in order to convince Turkey to allow the restoration of the cultural heritage in the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus. After all, this heritage belongs not just to the Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, this heritage belongs to the whole humanity,” he pointed out.
Referring to the latest negotiating process which started on September 3rd, President Christofias said that aims to overcome the impasses of the past and achieve a process that would lead to the reunification of Cyprus. “The kind of the solution we agreed on must not only take into account our history and international legality. It must also take into account what kind of a society we want to offer to our children,” he added.
The two main communities of Cyprus, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, as well as the other three religious groups, Maronites, Armenians and Latins, have lived in peace and cooperation with each other for hundreds of years, inter-spread across the island, until the forceful partition of our homeland in the wake of the Turkish invasion of 1974, he said, stressing that despite the 34-year-old division, the people of Cyprus have never stopped striving to reunify their country.
President Christofias stressed that a fundamental aspect of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process is the deepening of dialogue among civilizations. In these turbulent times, it is impossible to overstate its significance and the importance of our common efforts for increased exchanges and deeper understanding between different peoples and cultures, he said.
“The 21st century must become the century of peace. It is a vision we can fulfill for the sake of present and future generations”. In these efforts, religious leaders, more than anyone else, have a decisive role to play by bringing forward the value of our common humanity which unites peoples and cultures, he noted. “Diversity has to be seen as an enrichment of our societies, rather than a source of conflict,” he said.
President Christofias recalled that as a contribution to the worldwide efforts for reconciliation and dialogue among cultures and religions, Cyprus hosted together with Malaysia the Second ASEM Interfaith Dialogue in September 2006. This had as a result the Larnaca Action Plan, which set up guidelines for the implementation of the Bali Declaration, the President said.
He underlined that the year 2008 was designated as the European Year of intercultural Dialogues. A series of events throughout the year were organized in different parts of Cyprus that aimed to foster the promotion of intercultural exchanges, knowledge and understanding. “We could examine the expansion of this endeavor to include the whole of ASEM Partners in the near future,” President Christofias concluded.