We say goodbye in a few hours to a year that will be recorded as one of the most destructive in the modern history of humanity, at times of peace.
The coronavirus pandemic, the invisible enemy, as it has been called, resulted in the loss of two million human lives, struck the health systems even of countries considered among the most advanced in the sector, led the world economy into an unprecedented crisis, deprived billions of citizens of their human freedoms and led millions of businesses and workers to bankruptcy and job losses.
The hopes that halting the first wave would put an end to the ordeal, unfortunately, have not come true, as a second more lethal spread of the virus has led states to take harsh measures of total lockdowns.
The pandemic could not have left our homeland unscathed.
It is a well-known fact that from the very first moment the Government, with a series of measures, has succeeded in successfully tackling the first wave.
It is this same battle we are fighting today, to tackle the most aggressive phase of the pandemic, by avoiding the harsher measures taken by European countries as a whole, and beyond.
Our priority is the health and life of citizens, the safeguarding of the country’s health system, but also, of course, not disregarding the viability of businesses, the saving of jobs and the protection of vulnerable groups.
At the same time, I fully understand the majority of conscientious citizens, who are subjected to the ordeal caused by the measures.
I know that tonight some of you will be alone without parents, without children or grandchildren or even dear friends.
I completely feel your discomfort because I am going through the same ordeal myself.
At the same time, I know that some people carry more weight and sacrifices as a result of the measures.
That is why I feel compelled to assure them that the Government will continue to support them generously.
In the next few days, in addition to the programmes of the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, the Minister of Finance will announce new financial support measures.
I would like to express my deep gratitude and thanks to the vast majority of conscientious citizens who are undergoing these ordeals, with a sense of responsibility and solidarity.
What I feel is absolutely necessary, however, is to express, on behalf of all of us, our deepest gratitude to the heroes of the front line. To those who strive to give us hope, to help all those who suffer, to stand by each and every one of us. From the bottom of my heart I thank everyone and I am grateful to all.
At the same time, being the one leading and bearing the responsibility for making decisions, I feel the need to ask for your leniency and understanding, but unfortunately, as you can appreciate, there are no other options.
I know that the long lasting ordeal often exhausts people’s patience, causes discomfort and tires people.
The epidemiological situation, however, unfortunately, does not allow for relaxation, because this would lead to the tougher measures that the other countries have adopted.
This is why I would like to ask you not to give in. The struggle that all mankind is fighting is a struggle for life.
Remember what has been said in difficult times: the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
And I say this because, thanks to science, the countdown has begun to effectively tackle the pandemic that will allow us to live again the way of life we were deprived of.
But until we get there, what matters is that we minimise the loss of human life by obeying the measures.
Our survival is threatened not only by the invisible enemy, but also by the visible danger of the military occupation, the threats and the illegal acts of Turkey.
In addition to our efforts to manage the pandemic, our top priority remains the overall settlement of the Cyprus problem which, I would like to stress, should take into account, in addition to the concerns of the Turkish Cypriot community, also the legitimate concerns of the Greek Cypriots.
A settlement that, above all, will lead to a solution that ensures the functionality and therefore the viability of the state and allows for coexistence with mutual respect, in conditions of peace, security, stability and progress, without foreign dependencies.
This vision I conveyed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to the new Turkish Cypriot leader, making clear my determination and political will to participate in a new creative dialogue, based on what has been agreed to date, as part of a new initiative of the Secretary-General.
In this initiative, I am confident that I will have the support of all the political forces.
What I want to assure you, at the same time, is that I am not unaware that the final judge of any agreement will be the Cypriot citizens to whom I am accountable.
Another priority of ours is the continuation of reforms concerning the modernisation of our country.
I am sure that the political forces, besides any ideological differences, which are respected, will work together so that in the new year the important reforms that will benefit all will be implemented.
Reforms concerning, inter alia:
- The adoption of pending bills for the effective fight against corruption.
- The Public Service.
- Local Government.
- The justice system.
- The reform of the education system.
- The completion of the reform of the National Health System.
- The creation of an independent administrative structure for Culture, through the creation of a relevant Deputy Ministry.
- The reorganisation, improvement and upgrading of the welfare state, through the creation of a Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare.
Reforms that, as a state, as Government and as Parliament, we owe to the citizens who elected us.
I would like once again to convey my deepest feelings of respect and appreciation to each and every one of you, with the wish that the new year will bring to our country peace, health and the hope for a stable and secure future for all.
Happy New Year.