Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Saving Apostolos Andreas

Below is another memorandum provided to me by Bishop Christoforos of Karpasia, this time regarding the condition of Apostolos Andreas monastery, Cyprus' most important religious shrine, located at the easternmost tip of the Karpas peninsula, and which is in urgent need of restoration. The Turkish occupation authorities have been deliberately neglecting Apostolos Andreas monastery, allowing it to deteriorate as part of a policy to wipe out all traces of Greek culture and history in northern Cyprus.

(It's also worth pointing out that a couple of weeks ago on the feast day of St Andrew – 30 November – the Turkish occupation authorities refused to allow Bishop Christoforos to perform the liturgy at Apostolos Andreas. The celebrations were attended by 2,000 of the faithful, who were subject to harassment and petty humiliation by the 'police' of the occupation regime, who put on a show of force at the monastery, searching pilgrims and being present in the church itself, where they insisted on filming pilgrims and the service). [See news story

St Andreas Monastery, Cyprus

Apostolos Andreas monastery, built at the headland of the Karpas peninsula, on the spot where the Apostle Andrew is said to have come ashore on his way to Asia Minor and Greece in the 1st century AD, has been a major pilgrimage site for Cypriots. The monastery exists in a unique landscape that preserves its natural beauty and its rare indigenous flora. The monastery's complex is also of unique architectural interest, consisting of a composite central building at the heart of which is the church, and a group of isolated buildings positioned around a spacious square.

At the eastern end of the monastery complex is the smaller and earlier St Andreas church, built during the Lusignan period (in the 14th century). At the south end, there is a small yard surrounded by a tall stone wall for protection against the sea. At the eastern end of the church, lower than sea level, one can find the sanctified water spring, the source of which is a system of underground channels built under the earlier church. West of the earlier church, and at a higher elevation, there is the later church. This is a large building, dating back to 1851 and is a typical example of 19th century Cypriot church architecture. The buildings of this period combine elements from local architectural traditions with neo-gothic, neo-renaissance and neo-classical aspects. Along the south side of the church, there is a broad gallery with five arches.

The Management Committee of Apostolos Andreas monastery could begin immediately with the implementation of a number of restoration operations. The whole project has been designed to take place in two or three phases, while the restoration of the earlier Lusignan-era church could begin as soon as possible.

The committee is in a position to announce that all the necessary restoration and other relevant plans developed by the group of professors and experts from the University of Patras' Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering are ready, having been approved by both the church and state of Cyprus.

However, for restoration work to begin on the monastery, permission is required from the Turkish Cyprus 'authorities'. This permission has been outstanding for 10 years. The University of Patras team that will undertake the work has proven expertise in projects of restoration and has been honoured by Europa Nostra for its previous works, which include the Sinai monastery in Egypt, the Vatopedi monastery on the Holy Mountain of Athos and the Acropolis in Athens.

The following are essential before work can begin on the monastery:

a) The clearance of the monastery precincts from street vendors and traders, whose stalls and tents not only impinge on the sanctity of the site but also present an obstacle to the restoration works;

b) The use of a special drill for the soil and technical research in relation to the medieval chapel;

c) The commencement of the main works on the historic core of the monastery, i.e. the historic temple, the chapel, the adjacent cells and the immediate monastery precincts; and

d) The agreement must be safeguarded and guaranteed on the basis of European principles, so as to make certain that the works will be carried out in accordance with the adopted plan.

The proposed restoration of the monastery has as an immediate objective the protection of the high cultural and historic value of the monument in its natural surroundings, which are of unique environmental and ecological value. The monastery has for generations of Cypriots and over centuries been a holy pilgrimage site and symbol of the common heritage of the island. For the past three decades, headed by the Reverend Zacharias, the monastery has continued under difficult circumstances to try and meet the spiritual needs of Greek and Turkish Cypriots and live up to its reputation as a source of the island's collective memory.

Bishop of Karpasia, on behalf of the Committee of Karpas Communities.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Memorandum of the people of the Karpas peninsula

I've been given by Bishop Christoforos of Karpasia the following memorandum, which speaks for all the Greeks of this the most beautiful region of Cyprus, calling for it to be returned to its legitimate inhabitants and for it, in any future settlement, to be administered by the proposed Greek Cypriot constituent state.

Memorandum of the people of the Karpas peninsula
In view of the current talks to resolve the Cyprus issue, being deeply concerned about the future of the Karpas peninsula (which is defined as the area starting from, at its western boundary, a line running from the villages of Akanthou and Trikomo and extending east to Cape St Andreas), we state here the position of the whole of the peninsula's Greek Cypriot people, who overwhelmingly form the population of Karpasia.

1. We state that we fully support a federal system of government that will be in accord with the summit agreements and the resolutions of the United Nations, which will make provision for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus; confirm human rights and the three basic freedoms (freedom of settlement, freedom of movement and the freedom to own and use property); and which will exclude any right of unilateral military or other intervention. Consequently, we support the bi-communal talks currently taking place between President Dimitris Christofias and Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, hoping that these will come to a conclusion with an agreed solution.

2. The Third Vienna Agreement
After the capture and occupation by the Turkish army of the Karpas peninsula on 14 August 1974, some 12,600 Greek Cypriots remained in their homes in Karpasia – this amounted to two-thirds of the total Greek population of the peninsula. On the 2 August 1975, the Third Vienna Agreement was signed by Glafkos Clerides and Rauf Denktash, under the aegis of the UN secretary general, Kurt Waldheim. This agreement stipulated, inter alia, that every assistance would be afforded to the Greek Cypriots who remained in the Turkish-occupied north to live a normal life, including rights to education, the exercise of religious beliefs, medical care by doctors of their choice, as well as freedom of movement. In addition, the agreement allowed for those who had previously been expelled to be reunited with their families in Karpasia. This agreement was never implemented. In fact, the Turkish army continued to expel Karpas Greek Cypriots from their homes, so that by September 1976 only a few hundred Greek Cypriots were left, where they remain until today enclaved.
The immediate adoption and application of the Third Vienna Agreement will indicate Turkey's credibility and trustworthiness, prove that it has the potential to honour its signature in any future Cyprus agreement, and will afford the opportunity to the people of the Karpas peninsula to return to their homes, under Greek Cypriot administration.

3. The organisations, local authorities and the whole of the population of Karpasia unanimously state and demand that in any future settlement the Karpas peninsula forms part of the area to be administered by the proposed Greek Cypriot constituent state, for the following reasons:

a) This will result in natural justice, meet the expectations and justify the struggles and sacrifices, not only of the enclaved Karpas people, but all the Karpas people, who are overwhelmingly Greek Cypriot.

b) Cyprus is heavily dependent on tourism for its economic viability. With the Karpas peninsula as part of the proposed Greek Cypriot constituent state, this state will have access to a much greater portion of Cyprus' coastline. Currently, the Republic of Cyprus is in control of just 37.5% of the total length of the coastline of Cyprus.

c) The St Andreas Monastery located at the easternmost tip of the Karpas peninsula is the most important religious and cultural centre of Cyprus' Greek population. It must be liberated so that Greek Cypriots from all over the island can exercise their religious rights without hindrance or restrictions.

d) Such a settlement of the status of the Karpas peninsula is justified on historical and religious grounds, given that Karpasia has, down the ages, always been settled by Greek Christians.

4. We are convinced that the demands of the people of Karpasia are just and must be taken into account during the current talks. We will not accept a solution that will not make provision for the return of the Karpas peninsula. It must be realised by all concerned that for any solution to be viable, it must be just, otherwise, like the Annan plan, which was heavily biased against the Greek Cypriots, it will not be approved.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Greek-Americana from Annabouboula

Αbove are some songs from and a profile of Greek-American band Annabouboula taken from a a BBC documentary made in the late 1980s/early 1990s on what various ethnic groups were up to musically in New York City at the time. The first song Annabouboula plays is the classic rembetika/Smyrnaic song
Lily Skandalaria (Scandalous Lily), composed by Panayiotis Tountas and originally sung by Roza Eskenazy.

During the clip, one of the band members mentions the classic rembetika songs of Giorgos Katsaros, played on guitar and recorded in America, and three of which I've made available in Radio Akritas. These are:

1. Βρε τι μάγκας που μαι εγώ;
2. Βρε μάγκα το μαχαίρι σου (Το κουτσαβάκι); and
3. Πίνω και μαραζώνω (Αθηναίισσα).

The last two songs were written by Anestis Delias. See
here and here for more on Delias.