President Demetris Christofias has come under fire from human rights group Embargoed! for omitting the heritage of Turkish Cypriots and their ancestors from the ‘Mapping Cyprus’ exhibition in Brussels and accompanying book of the same name. In a stinging seasonal message, the Greek Cypriot leader was accused of upholding “the decades-old Greek Cypriot policy...to eradicate anything Turkish in Cyprus”. The Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo was also criticised for supporting the Mapping Cyprus initiative. The letters to the leaders were contained in Christmas cards from ‘Ottoman Santa’ to remind them of “the positive legacy of the Turks in Cyprus”.
In letters penned by Embargoed!’s acting chair Fahri Zihni, the two EU leaders were criticised over the historical airbrushing exercise. To the Belgian Premier, Zihni noted how he presides over a country with “its own inter-communal tensions”, which should make him “more sensitive to the plight of the isolated Turkish Cypriots”. Di Rupo is asked whether “the cardinal sin of Turkish Cypriots [for being excluded from the EU] is simply that they are not Christians.” To Christofias, the message was even harsher. The incumbent leader and his Cyprus’ EU Presidency colleagues were charged with reaching “new heights of revisionism through omission and misrepresentation”. Zihni concludes by stating that the Greek Cypriot President’s legacy to Cyprus is to make “the current division permanent” for failing to use his time in office “more wisely and honestly”.
The festive cards sent by ‘Ottoman Santa’ to the leaders had a Christmas tree on the front adorned with images of Ottoman artefacts and contemporary Turkish Cypriot culture. The message inside read:
From Ottoman Santa a reminder
That to the Turks of Cyprus be kinder
Their contribution to the island over the past 450 years
In arts, religion, trade & culture should bring three cheers
Instead, with your blessing,
They were erased from the Mapping Cyprus exhibition
Excluded, Turkish Cypriots look on,
Their presence & equality within the EU just one big con
Yet Turkish Cypriots do exist,
They have rights and need to be recognised
So drop the Scrooge act!
Start 2013 by sharing power & showing greater respect
In the name of the father, the son & the invisible Cypriot Turk