Cypriot Officials Step Up Efforts to Rescue Melkonian School

NICOSIA, Cyprus–Marios Garoyian, the Armenian-born leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Cyprus (DIKO) has pledged support to the campaign to save and reopen the historic Melkonian school in Nicosia. In a private meeting on Monday with the President of the Armenian Journalists Association, Asdghig Kevorkyan, the chief editor of Azg daily, Hagop Avedikian, and the President of the Cyprus Union of Journalists, Andreas Kannaouros, Garoyan showed great interest to find ways to improve ties with Armenia, as we are both victims of a common enemy, Turkey. Garoyian added that through the strengthening of the relations between the two nations a lot can be achieved, and this could begin through the cooperation between the journalists associations, especially as the Cyprus Union of Journalists enjoys great respect and has the full cooperation of the state. Regarding the upgrade of diplomatic relations, to which Avedikian commented that he was not satisfied by the present level and that more could be achieved, Garoyian revealed that once the present round of the expansion of Cyprus diplomatic service has been completed to include all members of the 27-nation enlarged European Union, I have been told by the Foreign Ministry that Armenia is high on their agenda. It is our next priority. Azgs Avedikian, who has been at the forefront of the media campaign in Yerevan to save the Melkonian, told Garoyian that it was a shame that Cyprus did not utilise the large network of Melkonian graduates around the world, who are probably the best ambassadors Cyprus could ever have. During their visit on the invitation of the Cyprus Union of Journalists, Asdghig Kevorkyan and Hagop Avedikian were accompanied on many occasions by veteran journalist Georges der Parthogh. They visited the Nareg school in Nicosia and the deserted grounds of the Melkonian Education Institute and also attended the briefing of the lawyers in the Melkonian court case in Cyprus. They also paid a visit to the Kalaydjian Old Peoples Home in Nicosia and visited the site of the Genocide memorial that will be erected on the Larnaca seafront. Having visited most of the beautiful sites of Cyprus, the two guests from Armenia were also received by Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas and were hosted for lunch by Eleonora Gavrielidou, the Director of the Foreign Press at the Press and Information Office and were the guests of honour at a dinner at Armenian Representative Vartkes Mahdessians home together with other members of the Cyprus Armenian media. House President and communist AKEL party Secretary General Demetris Christofias met with a delegation of journalists from Armenia on Wednesday where he expressed his support and admiration of the Armenian community of Cyprus and said that closer cooperation among all professional levels will benefit both nations. The Armenia’s have a steady friend on the side of the community in Cyprus. We welcome you as brothers. You already met with Marios Garoyian, you can now say you met with Demetris Christoph-ian, the House speaker told the Armenian union of journalists president, Asdghig Kevorkyan and Azg Daily editor Hagop Avedikian. They were accompanied by a four-man delegation of the Cyprus Union of Journalists, headed by its president, Andreas Kannaouros, as well as Armenian Representative in the House, Vartkes Mahdessian. This love, respect and bonding has been established by the Armenia’s who came here in the early 1920s having escaped the genocide, Christophias said and added that it would be wishful if all communities in multi-ethnic or multi-religious surroundings could have the same relations and bonds enjoyed today between the Greek Cypriots and the Armenia’s of Cyprus. The Greek Cypriots, despite the difficulties of the Colonial era, welcomed the Armenia’s with an open heart. But the Armenia’s too have flourished and have contributed immensely to the cultural, educational and economic scene. They have never caused any trouble, on the contrary they have been constructive to Cyprus society, Christophias said, adding that it has been an achievement that the community of 2-3,000 has maintained its identity and language. After the independence (of the Republic of Armenia) it was natural for Cyprus to establish relations. These have developed into very close relations at the executive as well as legislative level, the House president said, recalling the visit to Cyprus of President Robert Kocharyan, the Armenian parliamentary visit to Cyprus and his own visit to Armenia four years ago. Asked by the Azg newspapers editor about efforts to help save and reopen the Melkonian, which Avedikian described as not only a Cyprus issue but one that concerns all the Diaspora, Christophias praised the important role the 80-year-old school played in Cyprus society and culture. Melkonian has been a tremendous contributing factor. The school is part of the culture of Cyprus and we are proud that Cyprus has been a host to such an establishment. This is a multi-faceted issue and we know that the key (to its solution) lies in the U.S., Christophias said, as the matter is in the hands of the New York-based AGBU corporation that has ignored previous Cyprus parliamentary calls to reopen the school. Unfortunately, some of your Armenia’s who have gone to America have become more American and forgotten their roots in the name of money and wealth, the outspoken Cypriot politician stated. I promise you I will put the matter once again to the President of Cyprus, Christophias said, adding that, I am sure that the authorities and the government in Armenia’share our views. Asked by the Armenian and Cypriot journalists on the future of the Cyprus problem and its imminent resolve, the House speaker said: We have a common fate as we are witness to the fact that with the transition from the Ottoman rule to the secular state of Kemal Ataturk, nothing has changed in Turkey. It is with sadness that I see [Turkeys] expansive policy continuing. I truly believe that even the recognition of the genocide would help themselves come out of a difficult situation and gain international respect. In the near future I do not see things changing in Turkey and this time round we will have presidential elections in Cyprus in the same year as in Turkey, so this is a critical period for all of us, Christophias concluded.

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