European Citizen’s Prize 2014 to UludaÄŸ and Hristofidis

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Strong support for the peaceful coexistence, mutual understanding and active promotion of the rapprochement of the two communities in Cyprus were at the heart of the Ceremony for the award of the European Citizen's Prize 2014 to the Turkish Cypriot journalist Sevgül UludaÄŸ and the Greek Cypriot poet Mihalis Hristofidis which took place today at the European Union House. The Cypriot winners were nominated by MEPs Takis Hadjigeorgiou (GUE) and Neoklis Sylikiotis (GUE), while the final choice was made by the European Citizen's Prize Chancellery chaired by the EP President Martin Schulz. The two Cypriot winners will also participate in a special ceremony for all winners on February 25 in Brussels.

Opening the ceremony which was organized by the European Parliament Information Office in Cyprus, its Acting Head Alexandra Attalides referred to the European Citizen's Prize which was introduced by the European Parliament to honour every year individuals or groups with a significant contribution to the enforcement of the European values of 'unity in diversity'. Ms Attalides also highlighted the work and actions of the two Cypriot winners, noting that Sevgül UludaÄŸ gives voice to bones and human remnants that stayed silent for so long and Mihalis Hristofidis with his verses and ideas promotes the value of coexistence.

MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis explained the rationale behind the nomination of UludaÄŸ and Hristofidis underlying that their efforts promote the message that the pain caused by the bloody history of Cyprus is common for all Cypriots and this pain should never become a tool in the hands of those advocating nationalism, hatred and racism. Instead we must act upon this pain to promote the reunification of Cyprus and its people.

In his audio-visual message, MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou who is currently in Turkey on mission as the Vice-Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee indicated the efforts of both winners for the coexistence and common future of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and underlined that this struggle can become an example for the promotion of peace and prosperity not only for Cyprus but for the region and the world.

Sevgül UludaÄŸ thanked the MEPs for the nomination and added that she receives the Prize in the name of all missing people and her Greek and Turkish Cypriot readers who help her immensely in her struggle with valuable information. She also thanked the newspapers Yeni Duzen and POLITIS, which give her a forum to promote her work as well as several friends and partners in both communities for their support.

Mihalis Hristofidis thanked the MEPs for his nomination adding that for him the honour starts starts from the moment that his name was raised by AKEL. Mr Hristofidis mentioned that to act and behave like a citizen in your country, to defend and promote religious and linguistic diversity of your co-citizens can be difficult in the present dark times. He added that the Prize from the European Parliament is a moral vindication of efforts made for the prevalence of the fair and good.

The ceremony was attended, among others, by Former President of the Republic of Cyprus George Vassiliou, former Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Erato Marcoullis, former MEP Panayiotis Demetriou, many Ambassadors, Representatives of the Missing Persons Committee, and citizens from both communities in Cyprus.

The Award was established in 2008 as a reward for outstanding achievements of citizens, groups, associations or organisations that have demonstrated exceptional commitment in the promotion of a better mutual understanding and a closer integration between the citizens of the Member States and to facilitate the cross-border or supranational cooperation, within the EU. These achievements may also include activities or citizens' actions involved in a long-term, cross-border or supranational cultural cooperation, which contributes to the strengthening of the European spirit.

Each MEP is able to make one nomination per year. A National Jury is established in each Member State, responsible for the selection of the proposed candidates, and the final selection of the winners is made by the European Citizen's Prize Chancellery chaired by the EP President.