All persons residing in the Republic of Cyprus have all rights ensured (of expression, of conviction, of religion, of movement, of privacy, of access to information, to education, etc.). The Constitution makes no reference to “minorities” or “national minorities” but to “Communities” (Greek and Turkish) and to “religious groups” (Armenians, Maronites and Latins). By virtue of Art.2, all citizens must choose adherence to either the Greek or the Turkish Community. The Latins are normally Greek-speaking Roman Catholics of (mainly) European descent; together with Armenians and Maronites, they have chosen to belong to the Greek Community.
As stated earlier, the religious groups in Cyprus receive support by the Ministry of Education and Culture for their cultural activities.
In an attempt to promote cultural diversity, since 2004 a more rational approach to funding has been developed with the formulation of certain funding programmes by defining eligibility criteria and clearer objectives including cultural diversity amongst these objectives. Moreover, particular emphasis was placed on cultural diversity and on strengthening intercultural dialogue by laying special emphasis on the promotion of bi-communal co-operation. Especially, after Cyprus Accession to the EU in 2004, mobility of artists and other cultural professionals was fostered with all resulting influences on cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.
In particular, through funding programmes for the various art sectors (i.e. music, literature, theatre, etc.) cultural diversity and inclusion policies are further promoted. These programmes refer to activities that take place in Cyprus as well as to activities that take place abroad. In the framework of the existing funding programmes, cultural co-operation amongst Cypriot artists to respective cultural operators and artists from abroad is promoted. In this framework, certain events are supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture such as the Ethnic Music Festival, “Cyprus in Action – Youth Music Encounters”, which is a youth music camp that unites young people from Europe and the Mediterranean. Furthermore, in the field of cinema a number of festivals that are organised under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Culture aim to showcase to Cyprus audience, a diverse mix of productions from various different countries (i.e. International Cyprus Film Days, Cyprus International Short Film Festival, etc.). The International Cyprus Film Days aims to contribute to: (1) the development, promotion and mobility of the art of film making in Cyprus and the wider area; (2) screen the work of film makers from across the world and to introduce their work to the Cyprus public; (3) serve as a hub for films from the three neighbouring continents of Cyprus. The Cyprus International Short Film Festival aims to accentuate the independence of short films as an art form and to create a special environment and audience for them. By presenting an interesting variety of international short film productions, it offers its visitors a diverse forum and serves as a popular meeting point for film makers and audiences from both Cyprus and abroad.
In addition to the above, literary translations from Greek to foreign languages are subsidised as well as the translation and the publication from Greek into Turkish and from Turkish into Greek. Moreover, the Ministry published an anthology of short stories by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot authors, with the objective to foster, through literature, communication and solidarity amongst the two communities. Additionally, travel grants are provided to artists so as to facilitate access and participation to cultural events abroad. The Ministry of Education and Culture through such events as is the Biennial of Young artists of Europe and the Mediterranean, Venice Biennale, MIDEM International Music Fair, promotes creativity and intercultural dialogue while at the same time aims at showcasing the rich and dynamic contemporary cultural creation of Cyprus to a broad audience.
Moreover, innovative modes of cultural expression (vanguard and experimental ways of expression) and related events have been supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture. In addition to the above, through the funding programmes, artists’ mobility is fostered either in the form of travel grants or in the form of promoting co-productions and cultural co-operation.
Furthermore, through co-operation with leading international museums and institutions for the presentation of individual and group art exhibitions abroad, mobility of artworks is also supported and promoted.
Apart from the above, the Ministry of Education and Culture, through institutional and financial support to certain initiatives, aims to strengthen the cohesion-related activities of the third sector and to reinforce cultural interventions in society by private not for profit organisations (cf. chapter 2.7).
Through the funding programme of the Ministry of Education and Culture, support is provided to Armenians. More specifically, the Armenian Cultural and Educational Society of Cyprus “Hamazkayin” receives annual support for various initiatives such as the SIPAN Armenian Folk Dance group. Maronites also receive support from the Ministry of Education and Culture both for their cultural as well as for their educational activities. In the context of the newly established Maronite cultural centre at the village of Kormakitis in the Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, support is going to be provided for the operation of a folkloric museum which is going to display a collection of items representing the local culture and the daily life of the residents of the village in the past century. Kormakitis village is one of the traditionally Maronite villages in Cyprus.
Another form of promotion of the culture of minority religion groups is achieved through the distribution and screening of documentaries produced with the financial support of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
In the arts sector, the government of the Republic of Cyprus has also subsidised the creation of a monument in Larnaca commemorating the arrival in Cyprus of the Armenian refugees fleeing the 1915 genocide in Turkey.
In the context of education, the training of all teachers on the application of New Curricula focuses on the promotion of a democratic school that respects and enhances diversity and gives all students opportunities for success. In this context the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute has been offering a series of teacher training activities which aim at empowering teachers to combat discrimination and some of them can be regarded as examples of good practice (i.e. seminars on democratic citizenship, on gender equality, etc.).