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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Building a new place of friendship ]

Building a new place of friendship

GREEK CYPRIOTS and Turkish Cypriots yesterday marked the beginning of work on a place to call their own, or a ‘Home for Co-operation’ inside the buffer zone.

The initiative, funded by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein aims to create an Educational and Research Centre in the UN-controlled buffer zone. Sweden and Switzerland also contributed significantly.

The building to be renovated is situated opposite the Ledra Palace Hotel and used to belong to the Mangoian family. It was bought by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the Nicosia Municipalities on both sides.

The project is also supported by individuals, organisations, local authorities in Cyprus and abroad, embassies and UNFICYP.

The idea behind the initiative resulted from the efforts of the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research to create a shared space, an inter-communal, multi-functional Educational Centre in the buffer zone, with Conference, Museum and Exhibition rooms, a Centre for Archives, a Research and Education centre for children and educators, a Library and a work place for organisations with shared vision.

Norway’s State Secretary Raymond Johansen, joined ambassadors, the Mayors from both sides and UNFICYP’s Chief of Mission Taye-Brook Zerihoun yesterday morning to symbolically mark the start of the renovations.

“We, the United Nations family here in Cyprus, are privileged to lend our support to this initiative, which comes at an especially important juncture,” said Zerihoun.

He said the UN has consistently underlined the importance of a flourishing and engaged civil society and an informed citizenry in moving the peace process forward and in ensuring the sustainability of the peace process and a future agreement.

“When asked exactly what that means, we can point to the Home for Cooperation and the work of the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research in general,” he said thanking the Association for its courage, determination and vision.

“The Association’s mission is all the more admirable because it focuses on the very sensitive issue of the teaching of history,” said Zerihoun. “In a context of conflict, no other field is so vulnerable to manipulation and misuse.”

He said the Home for Co-operation aimed to be a living example of integrated education in Cyprus, a common space for cooperation based on mutual trust and respect.

Chara Makriyanni, a Greek Cypriot member of the Association said the renovations would take around two years and cost some €1 million. She said work would start in September once the project was opened up for tenders.

Tenders would be accepted from both sides. “We want them to work together,” said Makriyianni.

The Association said the House for Co-operation was the beginning of a historic journey to create a lasting legacy to revitalise the buffer zone and set up a prototype for integrated education in Cyprus.

Contributions for the renovation were also made by friends and members of the Association, historical and intellectual societies and organisations in Cyprus, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, the UK, and the US.

The Association hopes the new centre will help to give the buffer zone a new purpose and role, and transform it from a symbol of segregation to a symbol of cooperation.

Zeirhoun said such contacts were not only desirable but also indispensable for the sake of a future of peace and stability in Cyprus.

“But cooperation across the divide is easy to invoke, especially for those of us looking at it from a distance. It is decidedly more complicated to actually make it happen,” he said, adding that for the House of Cooperation, this had become a reality.


(Source: Cyprus Mail)



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