President Nicos Anastasiades addressing an event at the presidential palace on Monday, acknowledged that in the run up to the July 15, 1974 coup, not enough was done to protect the state’s institutions.
“As a leadership, collectively, we have gained the maturity and the bravery … to recognise the criminal mistakes committed in the past,” he said during an event at the presidential palace to mark the 1974 coup and subsequent Turkish “invasion”.
He noted that in the short history of the Republic, the leaderships at times, looked for the impossible and at other times had looked on as Cypriots turned against each other.
“It is obvious that when we should have, we did not do what we had to, to protect our democratic institutions,” he said. “It is equally true that we did not do what we could to create the necessary bridges between the two communities, letting the Turkish Cypriot community fall prey to Turkish propaganda and planning.”
In the 41 years that followed the “coup and the invasion”, Anastasiades said, people have suffered a lot and felt the pain of a divided country.
“Nothing however, compares with the pain of the mother who lost her child, the child who waits for the missing father, or the parent who waits for their children,” the president said.
Anastasiades said that those who were lost should be honoured, pledging that their sacrifice would not go in vain.
“Their memory should be the beacon guiding all our actions for the good of Cyprus.”
The first concrete honour owed to those who gave their life was to prove that “we used the freedom of half the country for one cause: to get rid of the occupation and division and form a modern, democratic state.”
The president said that the people could not be saved if did not unite its forces to overcome obstacles, particularly when its political leadership did not assume its share of responsibility.
Where there was division, catastrophe was sure to follow, he said.
Anastasiades referring to the on-going Cyprus talks, said that the election of Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci had opened a window of opportunity. Although it was too early to judge the outcome, he said that the Greek Cypriots could negotiate with mutual respect
“At the same time we ought to be honest with ourselves and stop being hostages of slogans, oftentimes creating false hopes,” he said.
He warned that 41 years of occupation had changed important elements of a solution sought by the Greek Cypriots. Despite this, it was not approaching the procedure in a fatalistic manner but will claim what it deserved.
Nevertheless, Anastasiades said there was no climate of confrontation in the ongoing negotiations.
“We are trying through co-operation to form the framework that makes Cypriots masters of their own country,” he concluded.