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09-05-2024 11:00

Address by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, at the event organised by the Office of the European Parliament and the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus on the occasion of Europe Day

It is with great joy that I take part in today’s event, a special day for the European Union and the European citizens, such a special day for our country as well, in this emblematic event which offers us the opportunity to pay tribute to the pioneers and the founding fathers of the great European family to which we belong.

Primarily, we owe gratitude to the fathers of the Union, Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet, who 74 years ago, on the ruins of two World Wars, laid the foundations of the European edifice, which evolved into today’s European Union as we know it, the greatest collective accomplishment of the human race in Europe since Enlightenment. The establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community constituted the beginning of an economic integration which would in the future form the core of the European Federation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We celebrate Europe Day, together with the 20th anniversary of the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the European family. Only a few days ago we were honoured and delighted to host the President of the European Commission, Ms Ursula von der Leyen, in celebrating this special, this unique day with us. 

As the Republic of Cyprus, we reflect at the milestone of accession with feelings of pride, optimism as well as responsibility towards the New Generation. Feelings of pride for what we have achieved as an active and equal member state of the European Union. Twenty years after our country’s accession, the transformation of our country for the better is clearly evident. Accession, inter alia, has brought us enormous benefits in all aspects of life, from trade, business, tourism, health, fisheries, shipping, agriculture, transport and the economy.

We are optimistic because we are aware of how much more we can achieve as active members of the great European family, with confidence, vigor and certitude.

We are overwhelmed by feelings of duty and responsibility in our effort to provide our youngsters, our children, the new generation of our country, with a credible and active member state, at the heart of the decision-making centres with a substantial voice and role. A state that will continue to make a constructive contribution in the development of European policies.  For us, for the Republic of Cyprus, there is no other direction than an even stronger Europe, by virtue of further integration. A Union of security with a clear geopolitical orientation, with strategic aspirations and strategic autonomy, able to effectively cope with any challenges.

Dear friends,

This crucial twenty-year journey as a member state of the European Union, was not all roses. Together with our allies we faced difficulties, challenges, as well as unprecedented crises. I refer to the banking and financial crises of the last decade, the coronavirus pandemic, the war in the Ukraine as well the most recent example of the migration and refugee crisis, which we are trying to deal with in cooperation with the European Institutions at the highest level.

I would, distinctly, like to refer to the most important change resulting from our accession to the EU, and that is our reinforced position, diplomatically and politically, ensuing from the fact that we now belong to a big and powerful family. This consolidated position is important for every member state of the European Union, but let us contemplate how important it is for us, a small state which for fifty years has remained a victim of illegal invasion and occupation by the Turkish troops.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The European Union is our main proponent in the effort to achieve peace in our country as well. A solution to the Cyprus Problem would at the same time play an important role in consolidating the feeling of security and cooperation in the troubled region in which we find ourselves. Therefore, the achievement of a viable and lasting solution is not only for the benefit of Cyprus and its people, but also for the Union and the region of the Eastern Mediterranean. In other words, by ensuring the viability and functionality of the solution to the Cyprus Problem, the European Union and Cyprus will be able to continue to be the pillars of stability as well as the substantial bridge connecting Europe to the Eastern Mediterranean.

It is for this reason that I would like to take, once more, today’s opportunity to send a message of peace and cooperation to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, inviting them to reflect on the benefits that coexistence will ensue in a reunited homeland for the whole of the Cypriot population, whilst offering everyone the opportunity to live and create in conditions of security and prosperity, benefiting as a whole from the opportunities offered in our country.

The European Union is and has always been the area offering us the possibility to assert, in a spirit of cooperation, justice and to work for what is attainable, for the good of the Union and its citizens, including, of course the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus. At the same time, we are utterly realistic, we are aware of the limits, the constraints as well as the agendas that exist within the European Union itself. However, the United Europe is our family, and despite its problems and weaknesses, we are always striving for solutions amongst us in order to deal with all the big issues.

Dear Friends,

In an exactly one month, we, the European citizens will be called to the ballot in order to elect the new members of the European Parliament, a process from which the new leadership of the European Institutions will essentially emerge. At a time of manifold challenges, participation in this electoral process is of significant importance. For this reason, I call upon everyone to take part in celebrating democracy on the 9th of June for the election of the members of the European Parliament. I sincerely believe that the Cypriot population’s participation en masse, will be the finest celebration for its 20 years’ accession.

The electoral process on the 9th of June is, therefore, not an obligation but a mission, it is our contribution in a democratic process, it is our participation in celebrating Democracy, it is our right to profess more Europe, one to be strategically more autonomous, more united, more efficient and in a spirit of more camaraderie.

Happy birthday to the European Union and to the European citizens. Wishing you all the best, peace, prosperity and progress.

Thank you so much!