Two Cypriots, journalist Sevgul Uludag and poet Mihalis Hristofidis received the joint award of the European Citizen’s Prize 2014 on Friday.
The prize was awarded to the two winners, at the European Union House, in Nicosia.
Turkish Cypriot Uludag and Greek Cypriot Hristofidis were nominated by MEPs Takis Hadjigeorgiou and Neoclis Sylikiotis, while the final choice was made by the European Citizen’s Prize Chancellery chaired by the chairman of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.
Uludag, who has helped, through her articles and research, to track down several graves of missing persons, said she was accepting the award in the name of all the missing of Cyprus and all those, Greek and Turkish Cypriots who had helped uncover valuable information.
Alexandra Attalides from the European Parliament Information Office in Cyprus said Uludag’s stories had been published both in Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot newspapers “and even though she faced threats, she was not intimidated”.
Referring to Hristofidis, Attalides said that through his poems, which are also translated into Turkish, he was promoting the idea of coexistence.
“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,” Hristofidis said.
Sylikiotis said that their efforts promote the message that the pain caused by the bloody history of Cyprus was common to all Cypriots and 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,” Sylikiotis said.
The European Citizen’s Prize was established in 2008 and given annually as a reward for outstanding achievements by 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 member states.
In his audio-visual message, Greek Cypriot MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou said that the efforts of both winners for the coexistence and common future of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots could become an example for the promotion of peace and prosperity not only for Cyprus but for the region and the world.
The two Cypriot winners will participate in a special ceremony for all winners on February 25 in Brussels.