NICOSIA (Financial Mirror)–Bedros Kalaydjian–the Representative of the Armenian minority in the Cyprus parliament–died Thursday after a long illness.
Kalaydjian–who turned 71 a week ago–served in the House of Representatives for two terms.
He was first elected in the by-election of October 22–1995 and at the parliamentary elections of May 26–1996 and May 27–2001.
Through his parliamentary duties–he often rallied support for Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh and–like his predecessors–also raised the issue of Turkey’s denial of the 1915 Genocide of Armenia’s.
At home–Kalaydjian’s main priorities were educational reform and improvement of the Nareg elementary schools in Nicosia–Larnaca and Limassol.
He played a decisive role in the ratification and adoption by Cyprus in 2002 of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages–one of the first European countries to do so. The Charter anticipated the continuation of the Melkonian Educational Institute school in Nicosia–which the AGBU Central Board in New York decided to close citing financial reasons.
Kalaydjian fervently opposed the decision to close the school and sell off the land–but was unable to persuade the organization’s leadership of the importance of maintaining the only Armenian secondary school in the European Union–with its unique boarding facility attracting students from around the world. He assisted in securing a preservation order and declaring most of the school grounds a ‘national historic site.’
He was a founding member of the Cyprus – Armenia Friendship Association and convinced the Cyprus government to sponsor dance–orchestral and art groups from Armenia to visit the island.
Kalaydjian supported government decisions to maintain Armenian monumen’s–including the 19th century historic cemetery near Paphos Gate that was recently destroyed–but was expected to be restored. However–he did not live to see his dream project materialize–the establishment of a ‘monument of gratitude’ that is expected to be built on the Larnaca seafront to mark the arrival of Armenian refugees and survivors of the massacres in Turkey and the subsequent welcome offered by the people of Cyprus.