“The Home for Cooperation is more than a building. It is a bridge for dialogue.”
The Local Award Ceremony for the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia in Cyprus, winner of a 2014 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in the Conservation category, took place on 16 September 2014. Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, unveiled the commemorative plaque at the premises of the Home for Cooperation, located in a historic building in the United Nations buffer zone, in front of an audience of 150 people.
Irina Subotic, Vice-president of Europa Nostra, Ingrid Schulerud, Ambassador for the European Economic Area and Norway Grants, Constantinos Yiorkadjis, Mayor of Nicosia and Representative of the Greek Cypriot Community, and Mehmet Harmanci, Representative of the Turkish Cypriot Community, participated in the event.
“The Home for Cooperation plays an active role in the community as a multi-functional educational centre, as well as a symbolic role, embodying the revitalisation of the United Nations buffer zone through a new era of collaboration and unity,” stated Irina Subotic, Vice-president of Europa Nostra.
Commissioner Vassiliou congratulated the members of the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research on “the great idea of creating a space for dialogue, cooperation and mutual understanding between the two communities – an idea which indeed 10 years ago was nothing short of revolutionary.
“Initiatives like the Home for Cooperation transcend the specific references of their locality. They essentially contribute – in a small but significant way – to Europe’s deserved fame as a continent brimming with rich history and diverse culture, and as a continent of peace, dialogue and mutual trust. The award that the Home for Cooperation received was based on these grounds,” stated Androulla Vassiliou.
“Placing value to our shared heritage as Europeans is all the more important as the European Union is striving to reconnect with its past, to link it to the present, and to project a dynamic vision for the future through a new narrative, a new way of engaging its citizens,” added Commissioner Vassiliou.
“The Home for Cooperation is more than just a ‘building’ or a ‘house’. It is also a bridge – a metaphorical but very real and, above all, a bridge of peaceful dialogue and cooperation among the two communities in Cyprus. I hope that such bridges will lead us to a brighter future together,” concluded the Commissioner.
In their addresses, Constantinos Yiorkadjis and Mehmet Harmanci stressed the need for other old buildings in the United Nations buffer zone to be renovated so as to preserve the architecture and to liven up the area, ensuring a sustainable future for Nicosia for both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. In 2013, the buffer zone of the Historic Centre of Nicosia was listed as one of ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ heritage sites in Europe by Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute.
Ingrid Schulerud, Ambassador for the European Economic Area and Norway Grants, which has supported the Home for Cooperation, agreed with Yiorkadjis and Harmanci and emphasized the need for cooperation between the two sides, affirming that the solution to the Cyprus problem cannot come from abroad.
The presentation of the award to the Home for Cooperation was followed by a musical performance.