News > Cypriot Armenians > Melkonian 'game' ... not over
The relentless opposition to the AGBU plans, continues...
After the Cyprus Ministry of Interior issued a new preservation order last Friday, declaring some 60% of the school grounds of the Melkonian Estate a "national heritage site", the momentum in the struggle to save the sale of the school grounds seems to have picked up.
Three TV channels (state CYBC-1, and private channels Sigma
) reported on the preservation order, while the local press (Phileleftheros, Cyprus Mail, Alithia, Cyprus News Agency, etc.
) have carried various reports about the order itself as well as remarks of gratitude from Representative Vartkes Mahdessian
towards Interior Minister of Cyprus Neocles Sylikiotis
In his comments, Mahdessian said that the community "cannot allow such a heritage, a national treasure to be sold for commercial development" and praised the efforts of the Town Planning Dept. officials who revised and issued an improved order. The previous preservation order, issued in April 2005, was challenged by the AGBU lawyers in Nicosia and the Supreme Court reversed the order in December 2006 on technical grounds.
This development has also injected new life in the veins of the Melkonian Alumni worldwide, as well as all Cypriot Armenians, Greek Cypriots and Armenians of the worldwide Diaspora, as it revives hopes to save the sale of the school grounds.
According to Melkonian Alumni of Cyprus, there have been recent offers towards the AGBU for the lease of the property, which have been rejected, while at the same time the local AGBU chapter has secured a relaxation permit (as published in the Official Gazette, 16/3/2007) to build a brand new sports complex, somewhere on the Melkonian school grounds, in addition to the present sports facilities that are rented to futsal and handball teams and federations, with the income going straight to AGBU Nicosia.
The arguments have started again, with a recent report published in the Cyprus Weekly becoming the battle ground for a new war of words, with the AGBU requesting the newspaper to publish a statement that was written with remarks against the Melkonian Alumni of Cyprus.
The community is also mobilised more than ever and sent a set of four letters to the Minister of Interior, the Attorney General, the Supreme Court president and the political party leaders last month, describing the December 2006 court decisions as unfair and a cause for the demise of the Armenian community of Cyprus and the Diaspora in general. As a result, more meetings have been planned at a pan-community level, to take the matter further and force the government to intervene and help save the situation in order to prevent the estate from undergoing commercial development.
We look forward on the positive outcome of all these efforts and hope that the AGBU Central Board will reconsider their position on the closure of the Melkonian Educational Institute.
Meanwhile tens of letters, emails and phones of appreciation have started arriving at the office of Armenian Representative Vartkes Mahdessian. Topping the list is this letter from the United States.
March 3, 2007
Mr. Vartkes Mahdessian,
Parliamentary Representative of the Armenian Community of Cyprus
The Board of Directors of the Melkonian Alumni & Friends extends their deepest appreciation for your active role in reviving the vital issue of Melkonian Institute. Your achievement has by far exceeded our expectations and has motivated not only the Armenian community of Cyprus, but it has echoed outside your jurisdiction, into the remote corners of the world, wherever there is a Melkoniantsi and a concerned Armenian.
The Restraining Order issued by the Minister of Interior is a major achievement for all of us, which creates a vision for tomorrow, new hope to hundreds of Armenians living across the Continent of Europe and the Middle East, the opportunity to educate them and preserve the Western Armenian Culture and Language.
The Cyprus MEI Alumni together with California Alumni and all the active Alumni around the world accepted the responsibility to save Melkonian. Although many erroneously considered this, as our sentimental problem, instead of visualising the deep impact of closing the Melkonian School would have on the Diaspora. We always looked for support from people outside our circle who would say enough is enough. We are very fortunate to see that you have made our problem your problem and you are determined to solve it and save Melkonian as our National Treasure, a symbol of our identity.
We take this opportunity to thank Mr. Neoclis Sylikiotis, the Minister of Interior, the Government of Cyprus, Archbishop Varoujan of the Cyprus Prelacy, the Committee of Cyprus MEI Alumni and the whole Community of Cyprus. We will never lose our infinite hope as long as we have dedicated and responsible people among us.
Melkonian Alumni & Friends - California , USA