25 May 2006

For the first time two Armenian members in the Cyprus Parliament

By George Der Parthogh

AZG Armenian Daily, Yerevan, 24 May 2006

AKEL and Democratic Party Lead

Nicosia businessman Vartkes Mahdessian is the new Armenian Representative in
the Cyprus Parliament for the next four years. Mahdessian clinched 52.6
percent of the votes while his opponent Dr Vahakn N. Atamian secured 47.395
percent of the votes cast by the 3.000 strong Armenian community of Cyprus.

Under the terms of the constitution of the Cyprus Republic, the Armenians,
Maronites and Latins, officially termed as religious groupings, elect their
own representatives who deal with only educational and religious matters,
but are usually members of parliamentary sub-committees. They have no vote
on other matters in parliament.

The Cypriot Armenian community has three elementary schools - in Nicosia,
Larnaca and Limassol, which come under an overall committee appointed by the
elected representative. These schools are entirely financed by the Cyprus
Ministry of Education and Culture and children of Cypriot Armenians attend
free of charge.

Non-Cypriot Armenians pay a small annual fee
Mahdessian was the candidate of the Dashnak party while Atamian was
supported by the Ramgavars, Hentchaks, the AGBU clubs and the small
Shahumian grouping attached to the Cyprus communist party.

When former representative Bedros Kalaydjian died in September 2005, Dr.
Atamian won interim elections against another local Dashnak leader Dr.
Antranig Ashdjian.

Then, just as in the present case, one of the main topics during the
electioneering campaign was the unilateral decision of the AGBU Board to
close down the Melkonian Educational Institute, which created a serious
breach in the non-dashnak camp.

Meanwhile, in the Cypriot parliamentary elections, which were also held on
Sunday 21 May 2006, Marios Garoyan (Armenian from his father's side and
Greek from his mother's) became the first Armenian to become a full member
of the House of Representatives (parliament).

In a brief statement during celebrations at Mahdessian's election he said:
"Now we will have two Armenian voices in the Cypriot legislative". Ha was
elected on the ticket of "Dimocratiko Komma" (Democratic Party - DIKO)
founded by former Cypriot President, the late Spyros Kyprianou and currently
led by President Tassos Papadopoulos. For the past three years, Karoyian was
the Director of President Papadopoulos' Political Office and often acted as
government spokesman.

In the parliamentary elections, the Cyprus Communist Party AKEL secured
31.13 percent of the cast votes, very closely followed by the Democratic
Rally (right wing) with 30.34 percent, while President Papadapoulos'
Democratic Party could only muster 17.91 of the votes, and the local
socialist party EDEK clinched 8.92 percent. Ecologists and Environmentalists
collected 1.95 percent.

Highlights of Mahdessian's manifesto include improvement of the living
conditions and problems of compatriots from Armenia and other countries, get
more Armenians to serve on government boards, secure additional funds from
European Union programs for the needs of the community. He also promises to
be "the impartial representative of all members of our community, because we
can only achieve our goals through cooperation."

Mahdessian pledged full support to the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople
in the fight against the closure of the Melkonian, as well as the Melkonian
Alumni Association's efforts to find a solution to the problem of the
Melkonian, the only Armenian boarding high school in the Diaspora.



- Number of people voted in favor of Vartkes Mahdessian: 899

- Number of people voted in favor of Dr. Vahakn Atamian: 810

- Number of invalid or blank votes: 53

- Number of Armenians in Cyprus: 3.000

- On the evening of the election-day and as the results were announced
hundreds of Armenian fans paraded with their cars in the areas populated by
Armenians in Nicosia.

- The newly elected representative Vartkes Mahdessian thanked the Armenian
community and called his victory a fresh page in the community's history.

- More than 1.000 people celebrated the victory at AYMA stadium with
all-night party. Armenian and Cypriot flags covered the scene.

- Member of European Parliament Ioannis Kassoulides, newly elected members
of the Cyprus Parliament Chirstos Stylianides and Nicos Tornarides joined
the crowd. They personally congratulated Mahdessian on his win.

- Catholicos Aram I welcomed the election of Mahdessian and stressed the
importance of strengthening the unity of the Armenian community of Cyprus.
The elections had caused a certain amount of polarization in the Armenian

- Marios Garoyan becomes the first Cypriot Armenian to be elected directly
to the Cyprus Parliament. Garoyan won a seat with the Democratic Party (also
known as DIKO) in the Nicosia district.

- Another Armenian M. Sarkissian (competing for the communist AKEL's seat in
Limassol district) did not manage to win.

- It is worth informing United Arab Emirates (UAE) readers that Mahdessian
has branch of his business in Sharjah, the third largest city in the UAE.

Sources: Azad-Hye archives, "Gibrahayer" E-magazine (including the photos),
www.hayem.org, "Azg" Yerevan Armenian daily.

1- Two members of the parliament Garoyan and Mahdessian address the public
in AYMA stadium, Nicosia. Many years ago Garoyan has been a football player
in AYMA. In the middle Catholicosal Vicar to Cyprus Archbishop Varoujan
2- Armenians celebrate in the streets of Nicosia.


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