National dignity would not allow me to accept a solution ensuring Turkey’s permanent presence in Cyprus, says President Anastasiades

National dignity would not allow me to accept a Cyprus settlement that would ensure the permanent presence of Turkey on the island, said the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades.

On Friday, the President visited the “Kostakis Pantelides” military camp, inaugurating the Officers’ Club on the occasion of the Christmas season.

The Minister of Defence, Charalambos Petrides, the Chief of the National Guard, Lt. Gen. Demokritos Zervakis, the Bishop Georgios of Paphos and the Deputy Government Spokesperson, Niovi Parisinou, attended the event, a press release issued by the Presidency of the Republic says.

Addressing the soldiers and officers, President Anastasiades said that “I feel special joy and emotion, given that this is the last time I have the opportunity to address a modern army, semi-professional but fully qualified, trained, equipped in such a way as to constitute the real deterrent force of the country.” He noted that “the times when ‘Nikiforos’ was the only worthwhile military exercise of the National Guard have irretrievably passed.”

Furthermore, the President of the Republic stated that the involvement of the National Guard in exercises, not only with countries from the region, but also with European countries or even the US forces, led to its personnel maintaining its readiness for combat. And this, he added, is also combined with armament programmes, which are defensive in nature” and not geared towards aggression since “we are peaceful people.”

“What we are trying to do is to defend the territory of the Republic of Cyprus. Of course we are trying to find a peaceful solution through diplomacy and dialogue, but we are also always relying on UN resolutions believing that at some point both Ankara and our Turkish Cypriot compatriots will realise that, as the Church also says, injustice is not blessed”, the President pointed out, adding that the solution of the Cyprus issue will give another dimension” not only to relations, but also to prospects concerning the future of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

“What we are asking for is to end the occupation, to end anachronistic guarantees that do not exist except in vassal states and to apply human rights for all Cypriots without exception, to apply the principles and values of the EU”, the President of the Republic underlined.

In addition, he stated that “we are a European country, our citizens are European citizens, they have the same rights as other European citizens. This is what we demand, for this we have fought real battles.” It is really a burden that I bear, he noted, “because despite the efforts we have made, despite the good will we have shown, there was Ankara’s obsession with revisionist policies, and Ankara’s obsession to transform Cyprus – or the Republic of Cyprus or the evolving Republic of Cyprus into a federal state – into a Turkish-controlled protectorate”.

Nor national dignity, neither my own Greek and Cypriot heritage would allow me to agree to sign or accept a solution in Crans Montana that would safeguard the permanent presence of Turkey in Cyprus and to question the survival of Cypriot Hellenism, the President said, referring to the latest round of settlements talks which ended inconclusively in 2017.

Welcoming President Anastasiades to the Officers’ Club, the Minister of Defence, Charalambos Petrides, said that the foundations have been laid for the modernisation and upgrading of the National Guard. “We are running today over 20 armament programmes and we are at the highest level of budgets in the last 20 years,” he said.

Furthermore, Petrides noted that “in the field of diplomacy we have signed more than 15 bilateral, trilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements, always showing the way and acting as a pillar of stability for the wider Eastern Mediterranean region.” “Our personnel work and train every day and are able to carry out their mission worthily,” he added.

On his part, the Chief of the National Guard, Lieutenant General Demokritos Zervakis, said that National Guard personnel are being trained and equipped to be a reliable factor. “Our staff takes pride in what they do and as Chief I want to assure you that I take the same pride in the staff I lead,” he noted.

Source: Cyprus News Agency