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groong: AGBU Rep confirms Melkonian closure



Contact: Masis der Parthogh

P.O. Box 16077, CY 2085

Nicosia, Cyprus.

Tel. +357 22 678666

Fax. +357 22 678664

Email: meialumnicy@yahoo.com

CYPRUS: AGBU rep confirms Melkonian closure – Alumni committed to resistance

Nicosia (March 5, 2004) – A representative of the Armenian foundation
that runs the Melkonian Institute in Nicosia has suggested that the
78-year-old school will close and that measures are being taken to
accommodate the 200 or so students in other schools.

In a paid advertorial that appeared in the Cyprus Weekly on Friday,
Gordon Anderson, the American representative of the Armenian General
Benevolent Union said that in order to provide education for the local
children who are forced to leave if the school shuts its doors,
“several options are being considered so that the children will have
the opportunity to gain an education that will have an Armenian
component — namely, language, culture and heritage.”

In the same advertorial he adds that for the overseas students, as the
Melkonian is the only boarding school of its kind in the Middle East
and Europe, the AGBU will help them find alternative sources of
education of the same level as that offered by the Melkonian, because
“AGBU has a commitment to all children of the Diaspora.”

The AGBU in New York has also hired an advertising agency, Marketway,
to act as its PR firm in Cyprus to boost its image and quash
opposition from the local Armenian community against the plans to shut
down the school and whisk the proceeds from the land sale out of the

The Cyprus government, all political parties and leading Greek Cypriot
personalities support the efforts of the Armenian community to keep
the Melkonian open, since they consider the Melkonian as part of the
national heritage and culture of the island.

Last month, the Cyprus cabinet, headed by President Tassos
Papadopoulos allocated an additional aid package towards efforts to
help keep the Melkonian in Cyprus, in a development which will further
embarrass the US-based leadership of the AGBU, that until recently
insisted that the Melkonian was not for sale.

The school’s alumni, which is now spearheading the campaign to keep
the Melkonian open, views with deep suspicions another comment made by
the AGBU representative, that “if the decision is taken to close the
respected institution, the AGBU will discuss and explore alternative
possibilities for the facilities with other educational establishments
and the government”

The school’s alumni, representing over a thousand graduates who are
spread around the world, said the issue was not the compatibility of
the Melkonian’s mission within the AGBU’s global plans, as the school
has its own goals. It was founded as a separate institute and until
recently had its own trust fund that seems to have been absorbed
within the millions of the New York-based group’s working capital, the
alumni said.

“It is not just a matter of the sale of the land and the flight of
some 80 million dollars to the U.S. in violation of a 1926 will by the
founders, but also abuse of the rights of Armenian children who are
being deprived their human right to a fair education based on their
cultural heritage,” an alumni spokesperson said.

“We are currently seeking legal advice from firms in Nicosia and
intend to incorporate others with international expertise to
strengthen our defence,” continued the spokesperson.

“The E.U. has recognised Armenian as a minority language thanks to the
efforts from Cyprus, for which Greek Cypriot MPs worked in unison with
the local community. This means that it will be easier to secure
additional funding from Brussels or other European sources to ensure
the school’s viability.”

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