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Greece’s President attends memorial service for Makarios in Cyprus July 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied.

President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday attended a memorial service marking the 30th anniversary since the death of Archbishop Makarios, who was Cyprus’ first President, on August 3, 1977 at the Kykkos Monastery where he was buried.

The memorial service was also attended by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and the Cyprus Republic’s military and political leadership. A memorial tribute to Makarios was delivered by Kykkos Metropolitan Nikiforos, who noted that “if Archbishop Makarios had been allowed to live, at precisely that crucial moment, the course of things would have been different and Cyprus would be different today”.

Nikiforos also commented on Papoulias’ presence at the memorial service, saying that it was “proof of Greece’s continued interest in the tragedy and the struggle of Cyprus, on the final outcome of which depends the further course of the Nation”.

Following the service, Papoulias and Papadopoulos together visited and laid laurel wreaths at Makarios’ grave, situated at Throni, near the Kykkos Monastery. The two Presidents also met in the evening after Papoulias arrived on Cyprus on Saturday for the three-day events commemorating Makarios. Answering reporters’ questions, Papoulias said that “everything had been warm, friendly and patriotic”.

On Sunday afternoon, the Greek President is due to have successive meetings with the Presidential candidates Dimitris Christofias and Ioannis Cassoulides, after which he will address a literary memorial to Archbishop Makarios where Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos is to be the main speaker.

In an exclusive interview with the Cypriot newspaper “Fileleftheros” that was published on Sunday, Papoulias referred extensively to the Cyprus problem and stressed that relations between Greece and Turkey could never be fully normalised as long as this remained unsolved. “The wound of the Cyprus issue imparts its own special weight on Greek foreign policy also,” Papoulias said, adding that the event was a decisive factor in ensuring the full alignment of Athens and Nicosia.

Recounting his own experiences as Foreign Minister of Greece and his encounters with some 12 Turkish foreign ministers, he stressed the role of the military “deep state” in Turkey and said that this gave Turkey’s foreign policy a remarkable continuity and consistency but did not necessarily make it free of mistakes. He also noted that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan now faced the challenge of freeing itself from being a hostage of this “deep state” and that the results of the latest general elections gave the Turkish premier the popular mandate to proceed down this path.

“The rise of nationalism, however, as this was expressed with the return of the Nationalist Movement Party to Parliament is not a good omen. Also of exceptional importance is the presence of Kurdish MPs, because the Kurdish issue has taken on explosive dimensions. Time will tell, therefore, if the time has come for an internal revolution in Turkey,” the Greek President added.

Regarding the chances of such an “internal revolution” taking place, Papoulias merely pointed out that Turkey was at a turning point where it wanted to proceed on a path of European accession but, in order to achieve this, needed to “resolve its contradictions”. “In a European country there cannot be a danger or threat of a coup. A European country is governed by those that the people have chosen,” Papoulias stressed, adding that Turkey had a “long road ahead” before it became European.

At other points in the interview, he also noted that the Greek Cypriots had a right to decide their future without being pressured and that the vast majority of them had rejected the Annan plan, while adding that a solution to the Cyprus issue be based on the the rules of international law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

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