First-time events at weekend of festivals
OLIVES, pomegranates and the spirit zivaniya were on the festival menu last weekend as a series of traditional and first-time events offered visitors a flavour of Turkish Cypriot culture.
The 17th Olive Festival kicked off last Friday with a parade and the unveiling by town mayor Nidai Güngördü of a life-size statue of a Knight Templar in Zeytinlik, the festival’s host village — once known as “Templos”, a name thought to have been derived from its role as a base for the 12th century Catholic military order.
Addressing the opening ceremony, attended by Prime Minister Tufan Erhürman, ministers, MPs and guests from councils in Turkey, Germany and Romania, President Mustafa Akıncı said “our history and our local production spring naturally to mind” whenever he visited Zeytinlik.
“On one hand, this village used to be a settlement for the Knights Templar, on the other it is named after olive groves and olives,” he said.
“If we preserve [its] beauty, we can pass it on to future generations. Olive trees are part of this beauty. We should be fruitful, hardworking and productive, [and] . . . must spread our roots in this land like an olive tree.”
Mr Akıncı hailed a cap of five storeys on construction, introduced this year, as a “positive step” for the area, commenting: “Crossing the streets in [Girne], you can see what sort of disaster has been created in the town.”
Tourists and residents alike flocked to the five-day festival, which featured stalls selling local produce and handicrafts and a range of entertainments.
The president and prime minister were also in the border village of Akıncılar on Sunday for its 12th Once Upon a Time Luricina Fair — after the village’s Greek name — at which Dr Erhürman described the area as “capital of beauty, brotherhood and productivity”. Mr Akıncı said his office was “working on” problems in reaching the settlement, which is accessible by a single road, and surrounded on three sides by the border with South Cyprus.
Meanwhile, the pair were among guests in Güneşköy and Mehmetçik for inaugural celebrations: the Pomegranate Fair and Ziva Festival respectively.
In Güneşköy, where speeches were also delivered in sign language, Mr Akıncı noted that “today everything represents Cyprus . . . from the music being played to the fruit being served”, and spoke of his desire to promote both rising pomegranate production and waning citrus growing. Pointing to one-fifth of last year’s 1,000-tonne pomegranate harvest having been exported, he said he believed “this success could be taken to a higher level”.
The Ziva Festival, organised by international Cittaslow movement member Mehmetçik Municipality and Convivium Slow Foot Galatya, featured stalls selling the Cypriot grape spirit zivaniya and related products.
A life-size statue of a Knight Templar has been unveiled
The Filipino Community in North Cyprus performed their traditional dance The Cypriot spirit of zivaniya was celebrated at the Mehmetçik Ziva Fest
The Friends Line Dance Group performed on Saturday
President Mustafa Akıncı (centre) and ‘first lady’ Meral Akıncı enjoy the offerings of pomegranate