The father of the 16-year-old boy who removed the Turkish flag from a school in Lysi in the north last week has expressed the family’s sincere apologies in a letter to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
The letter was delivered to Akinci along with the Turkish flag and the photograph of former Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, which the teen had taken from the school while fellow Greek Cypriots attended the first service in 45 years in the nearby church.
The Turkish Cypriot media said that the letter was delivered on Monday by members of the boy’s family accompanied by Mufti Talip Atalay and the director of the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process, Salpy Eskidjian. Present at the meeting was also the Turkish Cypriot head of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Culture, Meltem Onurkan Samani.
Akinci gave the letter to the Turkish Cypriot media following the request of the 16-year-old’s father to convey the family’s apology to the Turkish Cypriot community.
In the letter, the teen’s father expressed the family’s “deep sorrow for the consequences caused to all of us by the thoughtless acts of our 16-year-old son which we condemn unreservedly”.
The man said that both he and his son but also their whole family express their sincerest apologies “to those who, justifiably felt sorrow, anger and disappointment by those actions.”
“It was frivolous act done by a teenager under too much emotional charge,” the father said, giving reassurances his son has recognised his mistake and expressed regret.
“We hope and wish that the positive climate of understanding and friendship created between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots has not been disturbed irreparably,” he said.
According to Turkish Cypriot media, Akinci said that it was very important that the family apologised and recognised there was a mistake.
In order not to repeat these mistakes, it is necessary to strengthen the culture of peace in both societies, in every field of life by focusing on the education system, he said.
Citing surveys, the Turkish Cypriot leader said that unfortunately, many Greek Cypriot adolescents are raised as fanatics, especially in schools.
“Young people and communities should respect each other’s symbols and values,” he said, adding that the Technical Committee on Education is working to establish a culture of peace in Cyprus.
The apology of the family is an important and valuable step taken in this direction, Akinci said.
The Turkish Cypriot leader will meet the headmaster of the Lysi school on Tuesday morning to hand over the stolen flag and photo of Denktash.
Following the incident an ‘arrest warrant’ was issued in the north on the 16-year-old. Reports said that if the stolen items were returned the ‘warrant’ could be annulled, though there have not been any statements on that issue as yet.