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The solution of the Cyprus problem must be functional and viable in order to be accepted by the Greek Cypriot side, President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has stressed.

Noting that neither today’s status quo on the island, nor Cyprus’ division can be accepted, he expressed his determination to do his utmost to reach a mutually acceptable solution on the island.

In his address Sunday at the Maronite Church in Nicosia, where he attended celebrations for Saint Maronas Day, President Christofias said he remains committed to the reunification of Cyprus and pledged to continue his work with consistency on principles, despite all difficulties.

He underlined that the Greek Cypriot side is not willing to accept any solution, noting that the solution “must be viable and functional in order to become acceptable”.

President Christofias said that the solution must be to the benefit of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Amernians and Latins.

“The solution must end the Turkish occupation and Ankara's policy of bringing illegal settlers to the island. The solution must safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms of our people”, he pointed out.

He went on to say that the solution must be a Cypriot one and must give the people of Cyprus the freedom to decide on their future.

This year 2010, he said, marks the 50th anniversary since the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus and added that “the international recognition of the Republic of Cyprus constitutes the most powerful guarantee for the continuation of our struggle”.

He also referred to another important event in 2010, namely the forthcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI in June.

“This visit will seal the relation of friendship and mutual respect which has been successfully developed between the Republic of Cyprus and the Vatican”, he said.

Referring to Maronites who live in Cyprus, he said that one of the government’s priorities is to help them “retain their identity and secure their prosperity”.

Maronites of Cyprus, he said, have contributed to a great extent to progress and prosperity of the country.

“It is for this reason that the government addresses with sensitivity the needs of Maronites, as well as those of the other religious groups of Cyprus, Armenians and Latins”, he went on to say.

He noted that the government handles with special care issues relating to Maronites living in the northern Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, as well as issues concerning the preservation of Maronite churches and monuments in those areas.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Peace talks began in September 2008 with a view to finding a negotiated settlement to reunite the country.

After the Turkish invasion of 1974, Maronites had to abandon their villages which are now under Turkish occupation.

The number of Maronites living in the Turkish occupied areas has steadily decreased from 2.000 in December 1974 to 150 persons today, who are of an average age of 70 and over.

ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY,February 08, 2010
|||Christofias said Solution in Cyprus must be viable and functional to be accepted
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