It’s always darkest before dawn, president says in hopeful New Year message  

President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday sent a message of hope for the new year ahead and pledged the government’s support for all those who have a taken a hit due to the  pandemic.

In his televised message for the New Year, Anastasiades said 2020 would be recorded “as one of the most catastrophic in mankind’s modern history during peacetime.”

The president announced that new economic support measures would follow within the coming days, in addition to the existing support schemes implemented by the labour ministry.

“I know that some carry more weight and sacrifices as a result of the measures. That is why I feel the need to assure them that the government will continue to support them generously,” he said.

Hopes that curbing the first coronavirus wave would put an end to the trials have unfortunately not materialised, he said, as a second, more deadly spread of the virus has led one country after another into taking tough measures and going into full lockdowns.

He added that the government, with a series of measures, managed to successfully deal with the first wave.

“It is the same struggle we put in today to deal with the most aggressive phase of the pandemic, avoiding the harshest measures adopted by all European countries and beyond,” he added. “Our priority is the health and life of the people, safeguarding the country’s health system,” he said, adding that the government also pays importance to the viability of companies, saving jobs and the protection of the vulnerable groups.

Referring to the measures against the spread of the virus and the fatigue experienced after all these months, the president said he completely understands the difficulties these measures cause.

“I know that tonight some of you will be alone without your parents, without your children or grandchildren or even dear friends. I absolutely feel your frustration because I am going through the same ordeal,” he said. “At the same time, as the one who leads and is responsible for making the decisions, I feel the need to ask for your understanding, but, unfortunately, as you realise, there are no other options.”

The president said the epidemiological situation does not allow for relaxations, because it would eventually lead to the harsher measures that other countries have adopted.

“That is why I want to ask you not to succumb. The struggle that all humanity is waging is a struggle for life.”

“Remember what was said in difficult times, that the darkest hour is just before dawn.”

He expressed his deep gratitude and thanks to the majority of people who are consciously undergoing trials, with a sense of responsibility and solidarity.  He also expressed his “deepest gratitude to the front-line heroes.”

Thanks to science, he added “the countdown has begun for an effective response to the pandemic that will allow us to relive the way of life we were deprived of.”

“Until we get there, however, what matters is that by adhering to the measures, we minimise the loss of human lives.”

Anastasiades also referred to the Cyprus problem.

“Our survival is threatened not only by the invisible enemy (coronavirus), but also by the visible danger from the military occupation, Turkey’s threats and illegal actions.”

The president said a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem remains top priority. He stressed that the solution “should take into account, in addition to the concerns of the Turkish Cypriot community, the reasonable concerns of the Greek Cypriots.”

It should also ensure the functionality and, consequently, the viability of the state and allow coexistence with mutual respect, in conditions of peace, security, stability and progress, without foreign dependencies, he said. “I conveyed this vision to the UN Secretary-General, but also 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 so far, as part of a new initiative of the Secretary General.”

Anastasiades expressed hope that he would have the support of all political forces in this initiative but gave reassurances that he acknowledges “that the final judge of any agreement will be the Cypriot citizens, to whom I am accountable.”

As regards internal affairs, he said the government has also prioritised the implementation of several pending reforms including the adoption of a package of bills to combat corruption.

Other pending issues are the reform of the public service, local government, the educational system, the justice system and the completion of the National Health Scheme (Gesy) reform, he said.

Anastasiades said that pending was also the reorganisation, improvement and upgrading of the welfare state, through the creation of the deputy ministry for social welfare as well as the creation of an autonomous administrative agency for culture through the creation of a competent deputy ministry.

“These are reforms that as a state, government and parliament, we owe to the people who elected us,” he said, expressing hope that all parties would cooperate in the new year so that these “important reforms that will be to the benefit the whole” are implemented.

He concluded his address by conveying “the deepest feelings of appreciation and respect to each and every one of you, with the hope that the new year will bring to our homeland peace, health and hope for a secure and safe future for all.”