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Armenians would like to be officially designated as a community

Vartkes Mahdessian

The desire of the Armenians of Cyprus is to be officially designated a community and not a religious group, and to have a vote in parliament, its representative in the House said.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Vartkes Mahdessian stressed that they were not seeking any changes at the moment.

“We, me personally, are not seeking this at this moment, to change the constitution, because things are already complicated with the Cyprus problem and I do not want to add more difficulties,” he said.

Armenians, Maronites, and Latins (Catholics) are considered religious groups, part of the Greek Cypriot community. They have one elected representative in parliament who does not have a vote.

“Ours is a token presence, yes we are members of the House education committee and are present in the plenum, but we cannot vote, submit a bill, and so on,” Mahdessian said.

He expressed hope for a settlement, and only after that they can change from group to community and have a right to vote in parliament.

One of the main problems faced by the community in Cyprus is preserving its customs, culture, language, and religion.

Armenians are nominally Christians and members of the country’s own Church.

“This fight is very difficult; a lot of efforts are made and I must confess that the community is quite organised,” he said.

A lot of Armenians applying for jobs in the public sector, professional associations, but also those wishing to become army officers, face a language problem since exams are conducted in the Greek language, putting them at a disadvantage.

The island’s official languages are Greek and Turkish.

But in recent years knowledge of the Armenian language has followed a downward trend in the community, with a simultaneous rise of Greek.

Many parents wonder why they should send their children to Armenian schools since it would affect their future, Mahdessian said.

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