The Stelios Philanthropic Foundation on Friday awarded cash prizes of €10,000 each to 76 bicommunal organisations for various joint ventures, as part of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s endeavour to encourage co-operation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Speaking during the ceremony at the Filoxenia conference centre, Haji-Ioannou said the number of applicants since 2009, when the awards began, has skyrocketed, noting that during the first year only 10 people turned up.
“The attitude of all Cypriots on the island towards the other community is changing in a positive and favourable direction,” he said. “This comes despite the apparent inability of the politicians to find common ground. Our objective as a charity is to continue to build positive co-operation between the real people of Cyprus to ensure lasting peace on the island.”
He expressed hope that Greek and Turkish Cypriot politicians would also follow the real people in due course.
The awards are a celebration of and for lasting peace, he added.
Since 2009, the foundation has paid €2,760,000 to bicommunal collaborations. This year’s applications surpassed all previous times, as 850 Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots collaborated and submitted their bids for the bi-communal awards.
Before awarding the 152 winners, all 850 applicants participated in a conference along with a panel of journalists from both communities and international media.
The discussion focused mainly on bicommunal relationships on the island, while many gave their opinions on how a solution could work between the two communities.
Prizes were awarded to teams engaged in the arts, business, NGOs, science, sport, mixed marriages and partners in life from the two communities.
The purpose of the annual award is to strengthen the socioeconomic ties between the two communities on the island.