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Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 18:44 GMT
Cyprus seeks new flag
Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot flag
Cyprus has had two flags for the last 30 years
The United Nations has advertised a competition for artists and musicians to come up with a new national flag and a new national anthem for the divided island of Cyprus if a deal is reached over its re-unification.

Rival Cypriot leaders, who have been meeting to discuss a possible deal, agreed to the competition last week.

They have until a UN deadline of 28 February to strike an agreement which would ensure a reunited Cyprus join the European Union in May 2004.

Map of Cyprus
Cyprus has been partitioned along ethnic lines since Turkey invaded in 1974 in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

"The [new] flag and anthem must represent the commitment to a common future in a spirit of co-operation, tolerance and reconciliation in a reunified and independent Cyprus," the UN advertisement, published in local newspapers, said.

No financial reward will be offered to the winner.

"It's for the honour, the glory and the prestige and something the winner can tell their grandchildren about," a UN official said.

The deadline for submission of applications for the competition is 17 February.

The flag should be easy enough for a child to draw; the anthem need not have lyrics, but just a catchy tune of between 30 and 60 seconds long, the UN said in the advert.

Anyone is eligible to enter the competition, including foreigners, and joint applications from Greek and Turkish Cypriots were particularly welcome, the UN said.

Flag rivalry

The existing flag of Cyprus, which came into being when the island gained independence from Britain in 1960, is the only one in the world with a map of the country.

It was designed by a Turkish Cypriot artist.

The flag for the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Ankara, is a reverse image of the Turkish flag - with a red star and crescent.

Greek and Turkish Cypriots sing the national anthems of their respective mother countries.

The island's two leaders have to decide what the Republic of Cyprus should be called after a settlement.

Possible names are said to include: "Cyprus", "Union of Cyprus" or "United States of Cyprus".


Your comments:

Even though I am Turkish, I think that the flag of Cyprus should be one similar to the flag of Greece. The island has always had a vast Greek majority and we must respect that. Creating a Cypriot flag with a Greek influence, would be a sign of respect that would be a step forward in Greece-Turkey relations.
Murat Tansel, Turkey

The flag has been there since Cyprus' independence in 1960. At the time the island was unified with the two nations. AND the island bore the CYPRUS flag which was accepted by the Greeks, even though it was designed by a Turkish-Cypriot. NO crescent and/or moon should be added because those signs are not a representation of the Greeks in any way.
Jason Chrysomilides, Canada

Uzair Khan's design
"My idea represents the Union of Cyprus" Uzair Khan. London
My best friend at school was Greek and we were really close before the war started. My first impression is that the crescent moon was not a Turkish symbol according to old traditions and should be used to represent the people in a new light. Partition has caused a hatred and fear among the people, and there can only be faith and trust if something from a minority can be used to represent them. Why not have a picture of the map of Cyprus in green with a white crescent moon and the stars of the European flag. If you truly want the Turkish people to feel safe and have faith that the island will be secure you should help them feel less like they are second class and more like they are equals. and this can be achieved not by a flag but by honestly giving them hope!!
Volkan Mehmet, London

The flag should stay the same. They all accepted it before the island was divided. Now that the aim is to remove the division, the flag should be restored throughout.
Paul Chrysler, USA

The UN's initiative is hope-inspiring

Hendrik Jan Slettenhaar, US
The importance of strong symbols such as flags and anthems for the building of community can hardly be overestimated. These two symbols will channel and unify expressions of peaceful and pro-European sentiments: pick the EU-inspired flag the people themselves presented and an anthem that brings shivers down both Turkish and Greek spines and a re-unified Cyprus can no longer be stopped. The UN's initiative is hope-inspiring and I fully support it.
Hendrik Jan Slettenhaar, United States

The current flag is the flag for both communities. It contains no symbols of Greece or Turkey and is mutually acceptable. Any crescent on the flag would just represent the invasion and Turkish domination that should be avoided at all costs. Keep the current flag.
Paul Anastasi, UK

Peter Hanssen's design
Peter Hanssen's design (see left)
Here's my idea for a new flag for Cyprus:
Top third: the Turkish red for the north part
Middle third: the 'copper' / dark yellow for Cyprus
Bottom part: Greek blue for the south
and in the middle the peace symbol as from the old flag.
Peter Hanssen, Edinburgh

I think it is a disgrace to change the island's flag, because Cyprus is one country, and ONE country only. Having another flag and another anthem is pitiful, and government should do something about it...
Christina Polemidiotou, Cyprus

I agree with changing the anthem, because currently, the Cypriot anthem IS the same as the Greek anthem, but I disagree with changing the flag. The current flag is the Flag of CYPRUS, not the flag of Greek Cypriots. Some may say that would be a good sign of a new beginning, so I am not set all-dead against it either.
Gene, Cyprus

Tara Higdon's design
This idea for the new flag was sent to us by Tara Higdon.

I don't see the reason why a new flag is required. The existing flag showing the island's map should be used. I don't see how anyone could complain since although the flag is currently used by the Greek community it was in fact designed by a Turkish Cypriot!
Michael Georgiades, UK

As an artist, and a person who believes in world peace, I think a shade of blue as a background and a green and yellow linear type drawing (ie a green and yellow line crossing, and even tying a knot with each other). The reason for yellow and green is that it represents peace, and ironically doesn't represent the Greek or Turkish flag. I also think its about time that the world woke up to the fact that there are Turkish Cypriots existing in Cyprus and always have been. I just hope this new flag and anthem will not be a means to an end of Turkish Cypriots, just as the Greeks have so many times tried to wipe out. PEACE.
Carlos Taner Hevas, Spain

Cyprus flag idea
Another design for the flag was submitted by an anonymous e-mailer.
I thought the previous flag showing the whole of Cyprus with symbols of peace at the bottom would be ideal.
Robert, UK

I think the UN has an excellent idea. Cyprus should definitely do what the South Africans did after apartheid: make a brand new flag with colours and patterns that symbolize the ethnicity and history of all citizens. Design is a highly developed art these days - it shouldn't be too hard.
Eirik Newth, Norway

The navy blue background with the golden map of Cyprus surrounded by the golden stars of the European Union, that the Turkish Cypriots held during their demonstrations for reunification, would be an excellent idea.
George Voutsadakis, USA

The existing flag is one of the nicest in the world. OK, many Turkish Cypriots may not see it as theirs, but it was designed by a Turkish Cypriot in the first place, so it would not be a defeat to accept it. If that is impossible, the idea of putting the golden map of Cyprus on a navy blue European flag, would not be a bad compromise.
Jos De Greef, Belgium

I do not want the flag to be changed.

Alexander Apostolides, Cyprus
The republic of Cyprus has had one flag for the past 42 years. It makes me proud to be a Cypriot (and not a Greek-Cypriot) when I see it hoisted. It has no reference to the religious divisions and it represents a symbol to the new 20-something generation, who never saw the war, for peace. Changing the flag would seriously undermine the federal state to my eyes. The flag is all about the colour of copper - a word which originates from the island, and the braches carried for the doves of Peace. I do not want the flag to be changed.
Alexander Apostolides, Cyprus

The current flag with the design of the Cyprus map and the two olive branches is very suitable for the 'new union'. The current flag shows the two communities coming together in peace.
Koullis Peratopoulos, Columbus, OH, USA

Leon Kay's flag
"My idea is for a building with two columns, on water, with the eternity symbol." Leon Kay, Canada
If there is to be a new state of Cyprus, then of course it should be represented by a new flag. The current symbol is totally discredited, representing as it does the redundant 1960 Republic. Even the Greek Cypriots who claim it as their banner are reluctant to fly it. It is the blue and white of the Hellenic Republic that most commonly flies in south Cyprus.
Tom Francis, Turkey

Adding a crescent to the existing flag would be nice. But I am not very optimistic that the Greek Cypriots will accept the idea since it would mean recognizing the Turkish existence (not minority) in the island which their administration is keen on denying.
Emre Karagöl, Turkey

A flag is just a flag. It won't solve the psychological divisions that will still exist after reunification.
Devrim Schoonbrouck, Northern Cyprus


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02 Jan 03 | Europe
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