Celebrations for Cypriot Independence Day Marked By Calls for Unity

The Republic of Cyprus celebrated its fifty-sixth anniversary of declaring independence from Great Britain on October 1. Nicos Anastasiades delivered remarks to celebrate Cypriot independence. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In a manner typical for Cypriot independence day ceremonies, President Nicos Anastasiades received the salute for the parade in the presence of the country’s political, military, and religious leadership. The commemoration started with a religious service at the Imprisoned Graves, where the President laid a wreath to honor the thirteen buried soldiers who had fallen in battle “during the 1955-1959 EOKA liberation struggle against British rule.”

This year’s ceremony, however, was notable for its geopolitical underpinnings. Kathimerini reported that, in his address, President Anastasiades called for unity in Cyprus, while also stressing the importance of being armed “not with weapons, but with courage to achieve peace.” The division of the island between the Turkish-occupied northern part and the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus in the South has been an unresolved issue since 1974, and efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution have accelerated in recent years. He shared his vision of a united Cyprus, which will operate by respecting the principles and values of the United Nations and the European Union.

Greece’s Defense Minister, Panos Kamenos, was present at the festivities as well. After honoring the fallen in the war of independence, Mr. Kamenos told Kathimerini that the issue of the island’s division will be solved only when Turkish “occupying forces, present on the island since 1974, have left Cyprus.” He also emphasized that Greece will always stand next to Cyprus, should the need arise.

According to Kathimerini, President Obama himself complimented the Cypriot President on the progress that has been made regarding the attempts to reunify the island, such as the reconciliation with Mustafa Akinci, leader of North Cyprus. It remains to be seen whether the fifty-sixth anniversary of Cyprus’ independence will also be the one that will witness a definite solution to the island’s division.