By Heidi Trautmann
I would like to join in the many bravos of appreciation for “the three musketeers” of the former Goethe Zentrum, as the President of the worldwide net of Goethe Institutes, Prof Klaus Dieter Lehmann, called the three ladies Ute Woermann-Stylianou. Christine Herden-Demetriou and Elena Petrou, who had taken over the institute on a private basis in 1999 when it had to be closed for financial reasons shortly after the unification of the two parts of Germany.
Many more appreciative words were said on the occasion of the reopening of the Goethe Institute in Nicosia on June 14, 2011, by HE President Demetris Christofias, the German Ambassador Dr. Gottfried Zeitz; State Minister of the German Foreign Ministry Ms Cornelia Pieper; Member of the Bundestag Ms Prof Dr. Grütters as the President of the Cultural Office.
The new director of the Nicosia Goethe Institute, Björn Luley, has just returned from his duties in Syria. I will have to say more about his programme for future targets when I have had the opportunity to talk to him.
The Goethe Institute was first founded in 1951 and celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and with the reopening of the Nicosia branch it will be the 150th institute on our globe in more than 90 countries. To celebrate this and for talks of coordination all directors of Goethe Institutes in Southern Europe – Greece, Serbia, Rumania, Croatia, Slowenia, Bosnia, Herzogowina, Bulgaria, Albania and Turkey had come to Nicosia. One target will remain the same as under the private wings of the Zentrum that is to further the German language and culture and the cooperation between the two ‘brother states’.
There was an opening speech by the President Mr Demetris Christofias which I include here. An official representative of North Cyprus was not present except some artists and poets and the president of the German /Turkish Cypriot Cultural Association. There was the Mayor of Nicosia South but I have not seen the Mayor of the northern part.
Cyprus - Address by H.E. the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Demetris Christofias, on the occasion of the reopening of the Goethe-Institut in Cyprus, in Nicosia
It is a great pleasure to be present today at the reopening of the Goethe-Institut in Cyprus, which the Chancellor of Germany, Dr. Merkel herself announced during her recent visit to Cyprus.
I wish to congratulate everyone involved in organizing today’s event and to welcome Minister of State Ms Cornelia Pieper of the German Foreign Ministry as well as the President of the Goethe-Institut worldwide, Professor Lehmann, who have honoured us with their presence here today showing the importance of today’s event, a milestone in the relations between Cyprus and Germany.
This institution is one of the cornerstones of our cultural cooperation, representing a half-century of excellent bilateral relations. Since 1960, this very house where we are present today has been promoting and cultivating German language and culture in Cyprus. German is one of the most widely-spoken European languages, and this house of learning has given hundreds and thousands of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots the opportunity to expand their horizons over the years.
As we stand here in the buffer zone, I wish to recall Chancellor Merkel’s words while in Cyprus. She expressly declared that she could "very well understand what the division of the country means" on an emotional level. She added that since the historical background is very different, the German reunification process cannot be a model for Cyprus, but Germany is ready and willing to contribute its experience. With the reopening of this Institute, Germany is indeed contributing to rapprochement efforts. This Institute is a place where members of both communities of Cyprus can learn the language and the culture of what too used to be a divided country. It is also a place for meetings and seminars for and by bicommunal groups. Of course, rapprochement alone is not enough to lead to the solution of the Cyprus problem. Active contribution, creativity and political will are needed to pave the way for a solution. However, rapprochement is a necessary precondition for this, and will ensure the viability of a solution. Along with my determination at the talks to reach a solution the soonest, for decades I have also been a firm supporter and participant in rapprochement efforts in order to build the necessary trust between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots that will be a pillar on which to build the reunification of our homeland and people.
Let us raise our glasses in honour of the excellent relations between Cyprus and Germany. Let us raise our glasses in honour of the reopening of the Goethe-Institut in Cyprus, and to a bright future for our countries and peoples.
Ms Ute Woermann-Stylianou finally handed over the key to the house to the new director of the reborn Institute. And the very good jazz group continued to entertain us for the rest of the evening.
I hope that in future I will again have the occasion to write about cultural events in this so far very productive house. My best wishes go with them.