News > Pan-Armenian News (Language and Literature) > 'Pro Educatio' raises questions on Melkonian Educational Institute
A Paris based forum called "Pro Educatio
" has recently issued a communique titled "Remarks and Questions on issues of minorities and human rights in relation with Melkonian Educational Institute
See below parts of this communique compiled for our readers: (The complete text in PDF format is availabe here
The Melkonian Educational Institute
), based on its campus in Nicosia, Cyprus closed its doors in June 2005 to students coming mostly from overseas countries where people of the Armenian Diaspora are settled. The MEI is closed down by the decision of the Board of Directors
of the Armenian General Benevolent Union
) with its Head offices in New York, USA.
AGBU has signed on 20 June 2007 an agreement with the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Cyprus. The agreement stipulates the relocation of the Gymnasium of Aglanja (in Nicosia) with its over 400 students during the 2007-2008 academic year at the designated premises of the closed down MEI. The temporary relocation of the Gymnasium is considered necessary in order not to disrupt its normal functioning and to allow the authorities concerned to complete expeditiously the urgently required repairs of the school buildings at Aglanja.
The MEI was already founded and funded by the instructions of the benefactor Garabed Melkonian. But, due to international political events, the management of the MEI was transferred to the AGBU (see: Deed of Assignment and Transfer- 1925 December 28). The Will stipulates the continuity of the MEI independently of the continuity or the interruption of the AGBU’s existence. It is clear that closing down the MEI is contrary to the terms of the Will.
These aspects have been communicated to the senior statesmen of the Republic of Cyprus – namely to the Head of the State, the President of the House of Representatives, the Minister of Education and Culture and the leaders of all Political Parties, as well as the Armenian Cypriots’ Representative at the Parliament.
Maybe a certain conception of Western democracies has motivated the following statements, related to the MEI, made respectively by two prominent Cypriot statesmen, namely Mr. Marios Garoyian – leader of the Democratic Party of Cyprus (DIKO), the ruling Party in the Parliament, and Mr. Demetris Christofias – the President of the Parliament (the House of Representatives) and the Secretary General of AKEL (the Communist Party):
- We must all work to reopen MELKONIAN (Mr. Garoyan -21 May 2007 ) &
- I promise you. I will put the matter once again to the President of Cyprus. I am sure the Authorities and the Government in Armenia share our views (Mr. Christophias - 23 May 2007).
As early as one month after 20 June 2007, an announcement by AGBU declared that the use of the MEI premises has been granted to the Gymnasium of Aglanja. Under these circumstances one wonders if the statement “reopen Melkonian” means to shelter a sister school in a logic of an urgent necessity. And does the statement to “Put the matter once again to the President of Cyprus” mean to house the Gymnasium of Aglanja, in the closed down MEI premises, with an agreement concluded between a Ministry of Cyprus and an AGBU representative?
What happened to the efforts of Mr. Garoyian and Mr. Christofias? Did they examine the situation in co-operation with Mr. Vartkes Mahdessian – the Armenian Cypriots’ Representative - and work together for the MEI?
In his declaration, Mr. Christofias – The President of the House of Representatives of Cyprus referred to the Government of Armenia. It must be made always clear that the MEI along with the entirety of its real estate is a Western Armenian Diaspora property. This Diaspora has common components with Western Armenian Language and Culture. Yet, persons claiming to share its identity are genuine citizens of different sovereign countries. Therefore they are not, in any case, subject to the views of the rulers of the Republic of Armenia. In fact the MEI is based on the territory of Cyprus where the Armenian Cypriots’ Official Representative, as a connoisseur of the Western Armenian Diaspora, is the most appropriate and authoritative person to be consulted in connection with the MEI issue, but not the representatives of the Government of Armenia nor the other authorities of the country.
The MEI is a Western Armenian Institution. Should its activity and physical integrity not to be guaranteed by the sovereign State of the Republic of Cyprus, in compliance with international commitments related to the Minority Languages protection and development processed in the country? Is this closing down not directly against the Council of Europe (CE) Treaty, signed by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus?
Could somebody explain why and how the Cyprus Government, Legislator and Judiciary Bodies may allow the dismantlement of the MEI? Did the above mentioned Bodies verify the legitimacy of their “counterparts” who introduced themselves as the owners of the MEI, while a Ministry of the Republic of Cyprus is accepting to deal with them and sign an agreement to use the premises of the MEI, which was arbitrarily closed down and emptied?
Should it be repeated that the Armenian Cypriots’ Representative at the Parliament of Cyprus, is the most appropriate person, to be entrusted with this task? In this way maybe the MEI could be saved, as an active element of the World Educational Cultural Property.
The MEI is by nature a public entity. It has to have efficient governance, but it cannot belong solely to a Board of Directors, nor Alumni Clubs, nor to a local group of people recognized as a Community. The MEI belongs to the world aiming to educate people in the Armenian Culture using the Western Armenian Language – so that they always become valuable citizens in any country – despite all difficulties.
At present Armenians are not victims of genocide neither in Cyprus nor in another country. But they are the potential victims of a culturicide.
Who may be the beneficiary of this dismantlement? Certainly not the school of Anglanja’s innocent and brave trainees enjoying a “generosity” at the expense of the Western Armenian Culture Worldwide.
This internationally organized annihilation attempt violates the Human Rights of Western Armenians by closing down the MEI. This is a challenge that Pro Educatio, among other units worldwide, has accepted for the last 5 years informing officials and other citizens in every country – both Armenians and non-Armenians – for action in relation to the defence of Human Rights.
Note: The "Pro Educatio" is a Worldwide International Forum which deals with educational matters. It has a panel called GRTASSERE, constituted by ad hoc Armenians of Diaspora and non-Armenians – which deals with Armenian educational issues.
Communiqué – 03.09.2007
Gamma Institutes World Network
BP 235 – 16
F-75765 Paris Cedex 16
Fax : 33 1 42 24 46 39
Photo: Melkonian brothers' statue near the entrance of the institute.