4. Minority groups: To what extent are minority groups in this country disadvantaged by their language?
Updated (September 2004)
GREEK SCHOOL OPENED IN NORTHERN CYPRUS
After a thirty-year pause a Greek Cypriot secondary school has been reopened in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. The village of Rizokarpasso in the northeastern part of Cyprus remained inhabited by Greek Cypriots even after the Turkish military occupation of this territory. While in 1974, about 2,000 Greek Cypriots lived here, till 2004 the community has declined to 500 members.
The Turkish authorities closed the village school and thus many children were forced to travel to the south to be educated in Greek. Once being there, the Turkish authorities prevented them from returning home.
Recently the head of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mehmet Ali Talat, decided to open the village school again. Out of seventeen educators selected to teach at this school, seven have already arrived and started to teach their lessons (French, Greek, Religion, etc.).
Polakis Sarris, the Commissioner in charge of humanitarian affairs and the Greek Cypriot believes that his community has been living for thirty years under threats, afraid to speak their language freely, even among themselves. However, he is concerned that the school was reopened only because of the pressure from the international organizations (the Council of Europe, the European Union), as Turkey wants to get a EU membership.
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, welcomed this step of the Turkish Cypriot leaders and he said it would inspire more confidence between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island.
Source: Mercator News, September 2004, http://www.ciemen.org/mercator/index-gb.htm