By Chris Elliott…….
The memory of a great friend and mentor, Nigel Watson has been kept alive in the northcyprusforum.net blog complete with its forum that we created, but it’s now time to make some changes to reach out to a bigger audience.
Daily News of Life and times in North Cyprus goes around the world
By Chris Elliott…….
The memory of a great friend and mentor, Nigel Watson has been kept alive in the northcyprusforum.net blog complete with its forum that we created, but it’s now time to make some changes to reach out to a bigger audience.
By Chris Elliott….
With so much news and memories arriving on the publishing desk of cyprusscene.com we were delighted to hear from our good friend, John Aziz Kent about the progress of the refurbishing of the Gamblers Inn or Kumarcılar Han in Lefkosa which is close to the Buyuk Han.
John is a retired businessman and Hotelier who on returning from the UK many years ago was the first Turkish Cypriot to build an hotel click here, The Celebrity in Lapta followed later by the Chateau Lambousa hotel and holiday villas.
Such is John’s love of his homeland and its heritage that he purchased the ruins of the Gamblers Inn or Kumarcılar Han in Lefkosa 35 years ago and has been seeking support from successive TRNC governments to have this restored. This he finally achieved with a restoration grant of over £1,000,000 from the Turkish Embassy plus his own investment and that of the TRNC government who will manage the building for the next 10 years before control of the building reverts back to John Aziz Kent.
John is very grateful for the tremendous help and support given by the TRNC Minister of Tourism and Environment, Fikri Ataoğlu and his Undersecretary, Ismet Esenyel, without whose assistance this project could not have been completed.
John who is the Honorary President of the TRNC Hoteliers Association and has for many years been lobbying the government and other organisations to promote Cyprus heritage as a way to increase the numbers of tourists arriving in Northern Cyprus by offering them many cultural and historical events and places to visit.
During this past week John has visited the Kumarcılar Han and said. “When I visited the Kumarcılar Han with some friends I was truly amazed at this final stage of preparations to open it as many people had rented some of the ancient rooms and were setting up their businesses there and we were delighted to be offered coffee in the cafe that will be opening. Although it’s not officially opened I saw many tourists arriving to be greeted by a doorman who let them enter and look around at this lovingly restored Ottoman gem of Cyprus past.”
John said “After waiting all these years I am now delighted to see a dream fulfilled at long last and I would also like to thank my new friends Eren and Sermen Erdogan who run the Facebook page FROZEN CYPRIOTS click here through which its 6,541 worldwide members are discovering and sharing photographs of our marvellous Cyprus heritage for future generations to enjoy.”
By Steven Roberts…….
The normally quiet village of Buyukkonuk (or to use its original Arabic name – Kobi Kebir) attracted thousands of people to its ‘Eco Day’ on Sunday 9th October 2016.
The village’s main street was turned into a large market place with what seemed like hundreds of stalls offering a range of local produce mostly freshly prepared for the day. As you moved along the street you could see and smell kebabs, borek, fruits, bread etc. there were also several stalls with local craft products like woven goods, embroidered pictures, jewellery, and items carved and created with wood. Locally produced lemonade was also on sale, as were stronger drinks like wine and Zivaniya made with Cyprus grapes. (We bought all of these and can vouch for how good they taste!).
You could also see traditional crafts like basket and wooden chair weaving. The olive press was also open, and also attracted a lot of visitors.
The main square was host to entertainment all day long, mostly featuring local musicians and dance performers.
There was some irony in the fact that over 80% of the visitors seemed to arrive by car, but the parking was well marshalled by the Belediye and police, and there seemed to be constant flow of visitors coming and going.
The first Eco Day was held back in 1999, and the event seems to be going from strength to strength.
The next one will probably be in the Spring of 2017, so make a note of the date when it’s announced and go and see for yourself.
Sadly events in Turkey in the past 5 days have created an air of uncertainty here in Cyprus on both sides of the divide and also around the world and it will be many months before conflicting political attitudes around the world find a more reasoned tone.
Here in North Cyprus news has been published that many features of the 2016 Peace and Freedom Day Celebrations have been cancelled but the memory of those distant days when the Turkish Cypriots were saved by Turkish Forces remain embedded deeply in their hearts.
As the sun goes down on the 19th July and rises again on the 20th July so many people will have been remembering those days in 1974 when a few gave so much to save others and to create a peaceful future. We are reproducing our article below about the 2014 Dawn Vigil as we feel it symbolises the long-lasting peace obtained as a result of the Turkish Forces intervention in Cyprus on 20th July 1974 when the world preferred to condemn it and not want to help stop the attempted ethnic cleansing.
by Margaret Sheard……..
Video by Chris Elliott…….
4o years have passed since Turkey, as a guarantor power, found it necessary to intervene with a peace operation to save the Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus. Most people know, or do they? of the result of this intervention – a divided island, thankfully living peacefully but not as the united island of Cyprus that it should be. Why is it so difficult for two peoples to live together as they did many years ago with no problem? Most people, especially in Cyprus, know the answer but not all will accept the truth and move on.
On the 19th/20th July in North Cyprus many hundreds of people gathered at Escape Beach for a celebratory concert followed by making their way to the beach area with torches lit for the emotional and poignant celebration at 02.30 on the 20th July, the time of the Turkish Peace Intervention. It also commemorates the Turkish forces and Turkish Cypriots who lost their lives in this peace and freedom movement.
During the whole evening, the Turkish and TRNC flags were being waved and there was such a wonderful feeling of togetherness, even as foreigners we felt a part of this momentous occasion, but then we do live here and now consider this to be our country as well. The crowd was made up of the very young to the elderly and despite the huge numbers present everything was very orderly and friendly.
There was a brilliant concert with many artists performing, including Zuhal Olcay, Kurşat Başar, Ayşen and a display by some young folk dancers, there was also a rousing performance by the Turkish Janissary Band, which is always a very colourful and enjoyable event to watch.
At around midnight a lot of people were lighting their torches and making their way to the beach area where there were now not only flags still waving but the lovely sight of so many torches in the darkness. There was another stage set up on the beach where speeches and commentaries were being made with film on the backdrop of many relevant moments. At this time there were prayers from a number of Imams on the stage. Not understanding Turkish too well, it is always difficult to follow but it did not deter from this wonderful occasion. Again there were hundreds of people on the beach, many things going on in the stage area and then 02.30 arrived, again with prayers being chanted and the release of a number of white doves followed by a magnificent firework display which seemed to go on for a very long time.
By this time we were feeling very weary but thankfully there were no mishaps as had happened 3 years previously when I tripped on the edge of the road and consequently found I had broken 3 toes. On that occasion we were not able to join in with the celebration but at least this year we were able to witness the whole event from start to finish. We trudged up the very steep hill from Escape Beach feeling very tired but elated from the experience and made our way home.
Congratulations must be given to the organising committee for a wonderful 40th year celebration of the Peace Operation.
Chris had his own feelings about the occasion and said looking out into the darkness and seeing the shadows of one or two boats he was put in mind of video images many of us have seen of frightened young men tasked with a similar landing, some of them with only minutes or maybe hours to live but in this instance their quest was to free the Turkish Cypriots from an oppressive regime and stop the bloodshed forty years ago, when no one else would step in and stop the madness. He also said when we look at what is happening in Gaza or perhaps Ukraine and other trouble spots, has the world changed its attitude?……
Please note this video has also been uploaded to Youtube as “North Cyprus Dawn Vigil 20th July 2014“
By Captain Emre Unel…..
Cyprus Turkish Airlines (KTHY, Kibris Turk Hava Yollari) was established in December 1974 in Nicosia with shares equally divided between the Turkish Cypriot Community and Turkish Airlines (THY). The airline’s founding was mainly a result of the war in July 1974 which led to the division of the island.
During the conflict the aviation infra structure of Cyprus had been almost completely destroyed. The country’s only airport at Nicosia had been lost; the fleet of national carrier Cyprus Airways was grounded.
Eventually limited air travel was restored with the re-launching Cyprus Airways from a provisional airfield at Larnaca in the south. Since Larnaca was not accessible to Turkish Cypriots, the north needed to establish its own links to the outside world. The home base of their airline was projected to be Tymbou aerodrome, a disused former RAF base east of Nicosia.
By early 1975 modest operations were in place at both Larnaca and Tymbou (renamed Ercan) airfields.
The first flight of the new airline took place on February 3rd 1975 with a Fokker F-28 from Istanbul to Ercan via Ankara. At that time Ercan like Larnaca was still a makeshift airfield with very limited facilities.
The only passenger jet able to fly in and out of Ercan was the rugged Fokker F-28. This airplane was especially designed to operate from short rough runways. The Fokker was leased from Turkish Airlines.
By 1976 Ercan airport had well developed and was able to receive all kinds of aircraft. Cyprus Turkish Airlines began leasing larger jets from various companies.
Airplanes leased were Boeing 737 from Sobelair (Sabena), Boeing 720 from Aero America, Douglas DC9 and Boeing 727 from THY.
Initial flights were between Cyprus and Turkey only, however in 1981 the first international route to London Heathrow was launched.
Come 1991 KTHY finally built up its own fleet by purchasing two Boeing 727-200s. In addition the company recruited its own operational and technical staff including flight deck and cabin crews.
Expansion continued with the wet lease of its first wide body aircraft an Airbus A310 from Lufthansa in 1994. The Airbus proved to be such a success that from 1996 onwards two more were acquired. Being very popular with passengers and able to carry a substantial cargo load the A310 was a valuable and reliable work horse.
With a sizeable Turkish Cypriot community living in the UK this was especially evident on the Ercan London route.
Export cargos from North Cyprus to Britain were mainly agricultural products and textiles.
In an attempt to supplement the slowly aging Boeing 727 fleet, two McDonnell Douglas MD90s were leased directly from the manufacturer in March 1997. However with an uncertain production future these planes only flew for one year with KTHY and were transferred to Turkish Airlines. In fact soon after that McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing and production of the MD90s eventually ceased.
The new millennium started with an ambitious fleet modernization program. Three brand new Boeing 737-800s joined the airline in spring 2000.
KTHY was proud to be one of the first companies worldwide to operate the 737-800.
Flight Crews, engineering and operational staff were trained at Boeing’s reputable training centre in Seattle, Washington. The aircraft were then flown by KTHY crews from the USA to Ercan where they arrived amongst joyful celebrations. A fourth Boeing 737-800 joined the fleet in 2009.
Simultaneously the old Boeing 727s were retired and sold to Libya’s Bouraq Airways where they flew on for quite a few years. These finally ended their lives at Tripoli Mitiga Airport where I managed to photograph them a few years ago.
In the meantime the Airbus 310s were rapidly approaching the end of their economic lives. They were gradually replaced by new state of art Airbus A320s and A321s.
Again KTHY flight crews and technical staff were trained by Airbus in Toulouse to operate these fine airplanes.
By the end of 2007 Cyprus Turkish Airlines was flying a young and very modern fleet of three Airbus 320/321 and four “new generation” Boeing 737s.
All was set for a bright future but unfortunately it was not to be.
POLITICS, SUCCESS AND DEMISE…….
Political non-recognition of North Cyprus meant that from the beginning, the airline faced many political and operational challenges. One of its biggest handicaps was that it was not possible to fly directly from Ercan to an airport other than in Turkey. This required expensive and time consuming intermediate stops at major Turkish airports before continuing to other places. Despite that KTHY managed to operate an extensive network of scheduled and holiday destinations to the UK, Western Europe, Scandinavia and Israel.
Scheduled flights were mostly to the UK, London Heathrow, Stansted and Manchester serving mostly ethnic travel between Northern Cyprus and the United Kingdom. These flights were operated as through flights with passengers remaining on board during the stopover in Turkey. Holiday charter flights to Europe and Israel were operated mainly from Mediterranean resort cities such as Antalya, Dalaman, Bodrum or Izmir.
Although it was de-jure registered as a Turkish company, there were many efforts to discredit and undermine the airline. During the many years of isolation of North Cyprus the company was the only lifeline and link to the outside world for the Turkish Cypriot community.
As the “flag carrier of an unrecognized state” the airline was not allowed to use “Cyprus” as identification. In order to operate international flights they were obliged to change their logo from “Cyprus” Turkish Airlines to “Kibris” Turkish Airlines.
The issue even went as far in that air traffic controllers outside Turkey refused to acknowledge the airlines call sign “Kibris”, instead using its more anonymous three letter code of KYV “Kilo Yankee Victor”. There was also a lot of pressure not to grant KTHY traffic rights to countries other than Turkey. This problem was largely overcome by showing flights as originating in Turkey. (Most of them actually did.) With the support of Turkish Airlines, KTHY even managed to obtain valuable slots at London Heathrow from where it originally operated as Turkish Airlines.
When an agreement was signed with a major German flight school to train young Turkish Cypriots to be airline pilots, the school was “advised” not to train pilots for an “illegal airline operating out of occupied territories….”
Similarly activities to prevent KTHY from leasing new Boeings and Airbuses proved to be unsuccessful.
However, as the years went on KTHY managed to overcome most of these problems. The fortunate thawing of relations between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities no doubt contributed to this fact. Eventually even the original logo “Cyprus” Turkish Airlines was accepted and all its aircraft once again displayed their Cypriot identity.
Air traffic controllers started to respond to “Kibris” as the call sign. This was now used during almost all routine radio communications. In addition young Turkish Cypriots completed their training in Germany and elsewhere to become successful professional pilots.
After years of struggle the airline had every chance of a bright future was it not for mostly internal factors which led to its demise. Being a political airline as well, the company was subject to interferences in almost every aspect.
In 2005 the Turkish government sold its shares to North Cyprus. And with it some of the support with which KTHY was able to survive for so many years was lost.
It was time for the airline to stand on its own feet.
However, KTHY was plagued by poor management and an outdated corporate mentality. It was also totally overstaffed (1000 employees for a fleet of 7 aircraft) with powerful unions holding the airline hostage whenever possible. Unrest and strikes were not uncommon. All this resulted in an inability to reform and to adjust to changes in the aviation industry eventually leading to serious financial difficulties.. Stiff competition from other airlines which had started to serve Ercan in the meantime further aggravated the situation.
In the end bankruptcy was inevitable and CYPRUS TURKISH AIRLINES had to cease operations on June 21st 2010.
Its brother CYPRUS AIRWAYS shared the same fate five years later for very much the same reasons.
Ironically Cyprus Turkish Airlines after overcoming so many obstacles during its 35 years of operations ended like a Greek tragedy.
It practically destroyed itself.
Needless to say the loss of KTHY also dealt a huge blow to the Turkish Cypriot community.
You might like to enjoy 2 short videos, one of a vintage Boeing 727 taking off from Budapest Ferihegy Airport shortly before retirement, and another of KTHY B737 landing at Helsinki.
By Ismail Veli……
We live in an age of high tech computers, TV, satellites etc. At a press of a button we catch images across the globe and of the past, and yet many people still visit book shops, second hand bookshops where old postcards and magazines are searched for eagerly. I’m one of those who simply love searching through old magazines, newspaper and postcards for images and stories that bring the past to life.
The images of the world frozen in a split second on the camera suddenly takes on a life of its own. The stories behind the photos are equally interesting. For me the hard copies of old magazines seem much more interesting than the images searched for on Google. Sharing such images of the past seem to many, a much more interesting hobby than simply finding them on Google. Being a member of Frozen Cypriots where thousands of photos are shared is simply much more rewarding. Perhaps it’s the ownership or personal touch these images have that helps us all appreciate what we all share.
The post magazine images and stories of life in Cyprus from 1946 to the 1950’s are indeed rare and gives us all an insight into how life was rather than how we imagine it to be. Contemporary history and images are the most valuable source of information we can possess. The passage of time often leads many to knowingly or unwittingly distort not only events but life as it really was. Frozen images of the past are no doubt nostalgic but above all create an illusion that life in all its glorified simplicity was simply much better. Having studied history and collecting thousands of cards and books on the subject leaves me in no doubt as to how life really was. Of course we as humans need to acknowledge that our desire to learn of our ancestors lives helps fill the void in our present lives which can be stressful in itself. An escape into the past is a nostalgic need that helps us escape from our present toil and grind which tires us all to no end. Hobbies can and do help us relax and move to the next stage with new vigour and energy that helps most of us cope with the fast pace of modern life.
Our parents and grandparents who traveled to other countries during the mass Cypriot migration periods of the 1950’s-1960’s did so because life in Cyprus was harsh and unbearable. And yet speaking to the old timers they also miss the simplicity they left behind. Perhaps it’s their youth they miss, perhaps the changes in the modern world have moved so fast that it has bewildered their image of what modernity has cost the cultural traditions they grew up with. Whatever the reasons, humans by their very nature often block the negatives of the past and often tend to talk about the positives of past life, that is until one begins to question them much more closely. They then begin to complain about the holes in the ground as toilets, no electricity, no comforts etc, and yet they nearly always end up with the phrase ”but we were still happy”.
The Cypriots like other people in the world set up clubs, cafes, cinemas and continued their cultural links regardless of where they migrated to. This gave them a sense of being ”back home”, while maintaining their social, cultural and political identity intact. Regardless of where the Cypriots live they somehow seem to integrate well in their adopted country. Sadly with the world in total chaos and millions of migrants/refugees forced to leave their ancestral homes not everyone has the same opportunity to better themselves. Racism, bigotry, politics and even fear cloud people’s judgement of newcomers who are simply seeking a better life for their children and themselves. That of course is another subject.
We would do well to remember that it was not too long ago that Europe itself was destroyed during WWII. The migration, devastation and loss of millions of lives are still a memory for some who are still alive to tell the tale. The ability of humans to recover from such devastation is a testament to our amazing durability. In the final analysis we should be free to recall the past with nostalgia, but we should be cautious in denying the hardships of the past as it really was. The study of history with an open mind is the first prerequisite to accepting our grandparents’ hardships with the reality that their lives were not half as good as we often like to think.
By Lois Cemal….
About a month after arriving in Cyprus while I was out visiting a friend, I was drawn to look over the garden wall by a commotion on the road and was surprised to see my husband with our son, just 4 years old, walking with a crowd of people down the street. Four men were carrying a blanket-draped box on their shoulders, while other men stepped forward regularly to relieve each of the bearers in turn. Behind followed women, with one elderly lady in particular visibly distressed and crying, being supported on either side as she walked. It was the funeral of her mother. “I thought I’d take our boy along” my husband answered my querying look. “He can learn about this, too.”
In Cyprus, at least in our village, dying is a community affair. The villagers rally around the bereaving family members, helping them perform the rituals demanded by the Islamic faith. Whether assisting in digging the grave or just bringing some flowers and waiting at the house for the funeral to begin, each person contributes to the physical and emotional tasks of the burial and the grieving process, helping the family to cope.
The most dramatic aspect for me of the burial procedure is the speed at which everything happens. When death is of natural causes, such as old age or long illness, the funeral takes place as soon as possible, often on the same day. If death occurs during the night or early in the morning, the body can be in the ground just after the noon prayers. Sometimes burial can be delayed for a day or so to wait for a relative coming from far away, in which case they would be moved to the city morgue. Nine years after we came, we were grateful for the community spirit and effort when my father-in-law passed away while eating breakfast. He was 90 something and had just finished some watermelon and asked for a drink of water. My mother-in-law turned to put the beaker back on the table when his arm slid off the bed and he was gone. That was at 6 o’clock on a warm August morning. He was in the ground by 11 am. The unbearable heat that starts as soon as the sun is bright had something to do with it, as none of us had the energy or stamina to hang around for another hour or two.
Moslem funerals differ in other ways too. There are no funeral homes and the ritual washing of the body is done by certain men (or women) who are paid for their services. If one dies in hospital, they are prepared and brought to the graveyard in a public hearse. Every person, rich or poor, young or old, is laid to rest in 7 metres of unbleached cotton calico. There are no individual coffins, just a communal tabut, an open pine box . Many years ago in our village, the story goes, the tabut went missing from the mosque storeroom so an old door had to be used instead. The coffin was finally found in the yard of the muezzin (who calls the prayers) who was using it for a food trough to feed his sheep. Enterprising man, but I wonder how he thought he could get away with it.
The cemetery is about half a mile from the mosque and our village is well known for the attendance in the funeral procession. Even walking for a short distance behind the deceased is considered respectful. On reaching the place of burial, the casket is placed on a stone table near the gate and the men line up facing Mecca to be lead in prayer by the cleric. The tabut is then taken to the prepared gravesite and the swaddled body is removed from the box and laid, on its side facing Mecca, directly in the earthen grave. Traditionally, wooden supports and branches would have been placed over the body before the earth was filled in, but many boughs would take root, filling the grave and cemetery with unwanted trees. Nowadays, the council provides slabs of concrete to cover the shrouded body. When there are coffins for burial, as when someone dies overseas and has requested to be interned in the village graveyard, the hole has to be dug bigger to accommodate the box.
Filling in the dirt and piling up the mound is done communally by all the men present, each throwing on a few shovels of dirt then laying the shovel on the ground before another man picks it up. Fragrant myrtle branches are stuck in the mound between a rounded headstone and a pointed marker at the feet. Water that has had prayers said over it by the hoca is poured on the mound, incense lit and cut flowers placed. I have seen other decorations including things like the deceased’s walking stick, or, more tongue in cheek, empty bottles of his favourite alcohol placed there by his drinking buddies.
Cypriots can be quite superstitious about death. If one dies on a Friday or in the holy months between the 2 Moslem festivals it’s “good”, meaning you will go straight to heaven. Babies and pregnant women shouldn’t even see a funeral passing by. Some people put a knife or open pair of scissors on the body after it is washed and laid out, symbolic of cutting ties with the earthly existence. When one passes away with one or both eyes open it means they went without seeing someone who was dear to them. The strangest superstition I’ve heard of though, told to a friend of mine by her Cypriot mother-in-law, was that women have to wear at least 7 layers of clothing to cover their private parts when they go into a cemetery, so they won’t be “seen”. By whom, I wonder. At one funeral I remember the recently completed grave gave a sudden “whoosh” as a section of it collapsed (due to the scrimping of cement in the thin concrete slab covering the body) sending a puff of air out like a breath. The reaction was a collective jump and squeal of about 10 women who were beside it at the time, followed by wild-eyed mutterings of “Bismillah”, the Moslem equivalent of crossing oneself. I suppose it is of happenings like that, and other explainable occurrences, that fuel spooky stories to be told by people who’ve “heard’ or “seen” things within the cemetery. Graveyards are avoided when possible and none want the stigma of “being the last house before the mezarlik.” There’s an aliç tree in our village graveyard that gives a much sought after crabapple type of fruit in summer and you can be sure it doesn’t get picked. The same goes for winter mushrooms found within the fence. These are considered contaminated.
Turkish Cypriots don’t wear black at funerals as a sign of bereavement. Muslim widows do tone down their dress to exclude bright colours and patterns but usually don’t go for the head-to-toe black such as is common among Greeks or Italians. Women generally follow behind the men who have the job of shouldering the coffin in a funeral procession and women don’t participate in the cleric led prayers at the gate of the cemetery. Neither do they lift a shovel but I have seen women throw a symbolic handful of dirt on the mound. Widows in particular play a vital role in helping the recently bereaved family members cope with the sudden loss and pain of permanent separation by their physical caring, holding of hands, stroking of faces, and words of support. When a women screams or rants they admonish her firmly yet caringly by saying things like “Don’t make yourself sick. It won’t bring them back.” The part that I find most poignant that always brings a lump to my throat involves all those present before the beginning of a funeral when all gather around the draped coffin placed in the yard of the house on two chairs. The hoca, in his long robe and turban, asks all present how they have known the deceased to be. We all respond with “He was good.” and the question is asked a second and a third time. Then the cleric asks all present to discharge the deceased from any unfulfilled obligation by saying “Helal olsun.” This seems to be a good time to reflect on one’s own mortality and the pointlessness of petty anger and feuding between neighbours. It is a time when I remember my own departed mother who died when I was in Cyprus in 1999, and I know the tears I shed are for her and her memory and my own pain at our separation. We will all pass on in our turn and it is comforting in some ways to know that each of us will be mourned by all our friends and co-villagers in such a touching and meaningful manner. None of us know where we will end up, but I hope I’m buried near that crab apple tree. Then maybe I can look up at those sweet yellowing fruits and perhaps even get a taste of those that fall to the ground. Anything is possible!
Lois Cemal, a Canadian, has been married to her Turkish Cypriot husband for 38 years and they have 3 children. For 30 years she raised her family in a village in north Cyprus, keeping chickens and goats, making cheese and baking bread and learning much about Cypriot traditions and culture.
By Heidi Trautmann……
The best links between countries are established through art, artists are therefore often called ambassadors of culture. They should be sent out more often.
I had the pleasure to meet a group of artists who work together under the roof of the Kuwait Art Association. In cooperation with the Kuwait Embassy and the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture, they came here for an exhibition at the Famagusta Gate in Nicosia. The opening was on Monday, 11 January 2016. Actually, the President HE Nikos Anastasiades was expected for the opening but he was obviously tied up with other business. However, the Ambassadors of the State of Kuwait, of the Sultanate of Oman, of the United Arab Emirates and of the State of Qatar were present and for our eyes it was a splendid view.
The president of the Kuwait Art Association and of the Union of Arab Arts, Abdul Rasoul Salman has accompanied the 28 artists, 19 female and 9 male artists, to Nicosia and it was a pleasure to speak to him. He said that the exhibition is part of the festivities within the framework of the Islamic Culture 2016 festivities. The development of the arts have undergone a great development internationally and it is the intention of the Association to bring their culture to other countries and on the other hand invite international artists to their countries to learn from each other. Some of the artists I have met before, they had even come to my house to take part in our Thursday Art Group; I was very pleased to see them again.
There were about 70 art works in the halls of the Famagusta Gate Cultural Centre, it is a pity that they were not put together in a catalogue. I have taken photos of most of them. The artists stood near their work so I had the opportunity to talk to them. Beautiful young people full of enthusiasm.
The countries taking part in this event had made an effort to show also their touristic attractions in brochures laid out, they made us listen to their kind of music and made us taste little delicious niceties with our fingers. Some Cypriot artists had come to pay their respects but I would have expected much more. Exchange of culture is meant to broaden our knowledge, our angles of view and our understanding of each other. Unfortunately, I must add here, that the event was not very much made public via media, it is only by personal contact that I learnt about it.
In the meantime the artists will have returned home. Thank you for coming and showing us your art. May your roads always be easy and peaceful.
To see more of my articles on my website please click here
By Margaret Sheard….
I met Hakki Müftüzade in 2015 at a Rotary event and he has since been appointed President of the Rotary Club of Kyrenia Liman for that year. We arranged to meet up with Hakki at his home in Nicosia to learn about his father who had led a very interesting and prominent life in Cyprus and this article is being published as a tribute to Hakki’s father, Ömer Faik Müftüzade OBE, QGM, who was always known as Faik.
Ömer Faik Müftüzade was born in Larnaca in November 1915 and his working career started as a teacher at the ‘Lefkoşa Türk Lisesi’, later the name was changed to ‘İslam Lisesi’ by the Headmaster Mr Wood. In fact the school was located where the Ministry of Tourism is today.
Coincidentally Faik was the teacher of the father of Hakki’s wife Behiye.
In 1939 Faik joined the Cyprus Regiment and during WW2 he served at the Gulf of Aqaba until 1945. He was then Acting Commander of the Cyprus Regiment from 1946 to 1949. The Cyprus Regiment was disbanded 30th March 1950.
Faik and his wife Mübeccel were married in 1946.
Following the Cyprus Regiment, Faik was appointed Head of Prisons and following this he joined the Cyprus Administration as Assistant Commissioner covering the Larnaca and Paphos areas and also Famagusta, where Hakki was born in 1953, in fact Faik was the last Commissioner of Famagusta before independence was granted to the whole of the island.
He resigned in 1960 when the Republic of Cyprus was established and then was appointed as Senior Liaison Officer to the British Sovereign Base in Akrotiri. During this time he was responsible for the movement of families at the time of the intervention in 1974, and he received the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his outstanding courage and devotion to duty. He continued in this post until 1975, at which time he was posted to London.
Hakki told us a rather amusing story of when his father, who was very keen on football, was a referee in the early 1950’s and Manager of Çetinkaya Football Club. Çetinkaya won the PASOK shield vs Apoel Football Club. During a football match in Larnaca a spectator threw a bottle onto the pitch and, as Commissioner of Larnaca, Faik had the man arrested, then blew the whistle and re-started the game.
Faik received the Queen’s Gallantry Medal as a result of his outstanding courage and devotion to duty on 20th July 1974. He was given the task of negotiating a ceasefire with the Commander of the forces in the Turkish Cypriot quarter and also the Greek Cypriot Commander of Limassol, to allow the evacuation of British personnel and families and this was achieved under very hazardous conditions.
The transcript is shown below.
The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following award of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal and for publication in the London Gazette of the names of those specially shown below as having received an expression of Commendation for Brave Conduct.
Omar Faik Muftizade, O.B.E., Area Officer, Akrotiri Sovereign Base Areas Administration, Cyprus, Ministry of Defence.
Early on 20th July 1974 fighting broke out in Limassol between Greek and Turkish Cypriot Forces. The heavy exchange of fire presented a serious danger to the lives of British personnel and caused their evacuation to be halted. Soon after midday negotiations were successfully concluded with the Greek Cypriot National Guard for a cease-fire to allow the evacuation of British personnel and families to be completed.
Mr. Muftizade was given the task of negotiating a ceasefire with the Commander of the forces in the Turkish Cypriot quarter. Accompanied by a British officer and three soldiers, Mr. Muftizade drove into Limassol. The vehicle was stopped at a Greek Cypriot National Guard road block and the party ordered out at gunpoint and disarmed, but Mr. Muftizade eventually persuaded them to allow his party to drive on. As the vehicle approached a factory it came under small arms fire and the radiator was pierced by a bullet. They drove on at high speed until they reached a house where Mr. Muftizade met a Turkish officer and began discussions. The remainder of the party took cover from sporadic small arms and mortar fire.
When the cease-fire negotiations were completed Mr. Muftizade and his party drove back through continuing small arms fire from both sides. At the National Guard block they retrieved their weapons and found that their vehicle’s radiator was completely drained. After changing vehicles Mr. Muftizade then confirmed the Turkish Cypriot acceptance of the cease-fire to the National Guard Commander in Limassol.
The success of the negotiations for a cease-fire was vital to the security of more than 11,000 British nationals who were subsequently evacuated from Limassol without a single casualty. Mr. Muftizade completed his mission in the most hazardous circumstances with total disregard for his personal safely. Faced with hostility and extreme danger he refused to turn back, even after his vehicle was, hit under fire from both sides. Throughout this mission he displayed outstanding courage and devotion to duty. Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.
With Turkish Cypriots leaving the British Bases, Faik went to the UK in 1975 where he was appointed as the London Representative for the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus and he held this post until 1982, when he retired and he returned to North Cyprus in 1991.
We were shown the many medals which Faik had received, including of course his Medal for Gallantry and Hakki said he is proud to display them on behalf of his father at appropriate ceremonies. Of the many medals awarded to Faik, these include the Queen’s Gallantry Medal. OBE, MBE, George Medal, Africa Star, and a Russian medal which was awarded to Turkish Cypriots who fought in WW2.
As Commissioner, Faik worked under 2 Governors of Cyprus, Sir John Harding and Sir Hugh Foot who later became a Life Peer as Lord Caradon. Hakki told us an interesting story about Sir John Harding who, as a soldier at Gallipoli, had 2 fingers cut off and he was taken to a hospital by a Turkish soldier so he always recounted that his life was probably saved by a Turkish soldier.
In 1966, Hakki was sent to England to boarding school. His father wrote to the Headmaster, who had previously been Headmaster of the English School in Nicosia, and he was told if Hakki passed the entrance examinations he would be accepted, which he was, although Hakki said it was very much being thrown in at the deep-end at the age of about 12 and although he found it hard he loved this period of his life.
Ömer Faik Müftüzade died on 9thJuly 2002 at the age of 87 and he is buried in Nicosia.
Hakki is very proud of his father’s achievements and so pleased to be able to talk about them.
We are aware that Hakki has also had a very interesting life and working career and we will be following his father’s story with an account of Hakki Muftuzade in the near future.