March 27, 2009-
Benedict XVI received the president of Cyprus last week.
The small island nation has been the subject of a bitter political and military dispute between Greece and Turkey for 35 years.
The president spoke about the situation of Christians and the condition of churches on the Turkish-controlled northern part of the island which they consider a sovereign country, as well as the cause of unification. It is the only divided country in the EU. Demetrias ChristofiasPresident of Cyprus He wants Cyprus to be united, as we want Cyprus – to become a bridge of peace, of common understanding, of friendly relations between the European Union. Because Cyprus is the southern part of the European Union with the Arab countries and peoples, with Israel as well, the peoples of the whole region. It’s in a crossing point, as you know. So this is my vision, it is the vision of the Pope as well.
When asked if he had any alternatives to his proposal to reunite Cyprus, the president said that all his attention and his energies were aimed at making his proposal work. He thinks that talk of other possible options would be a distraction from achieving the main goal. Demetrias ChristofiasPresident of Cyprus I will never say this is the last chance, because I wouldn’t be surrendered, and my people wouldn’t be surrendered to its fate. No, the fate of Cyprus is a united Cyprus. And the fate of the people of Cyprus is a united people.
While the island has strong ethnic and historic ties to both Greece and Turkey, the president insists that any solution they pursue will be for the best interests of his country. Demetrias ChristofiasPresident of Cyprus It is not possible to accept a solution which is going to create conditions for Turkey or for any other foreign country to control our homeland, to control Cyprus.
Saint Paul the apostle visited Cyprus, and the Church is celebrating the 2,000th anniversary of his birth. The president also expressed optimism that the pope would visit his country, potentially on his return trip from the Holy Land in May .