EU to help tackle racism in Cyprus
THE European Union stands ready to help tackle “racism and xenophobia” in Cyprus, an EU official said on Tuesday.
Arttu Makipaa, a section head of the European Commission’s Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) Cyprus Settlement Support Team, said the EC was on hand to “help local actors to effectively address these challenges” by giving “political impetus”.
He said the EC could also provide “guidance on how to effectively implement policies, through training, or by developing platforms for exchange of methods and practices” as well as funding “relevant projects and initiatives”.
He made the comments at a “diversity event” held in Lefkoşa, also attended by the city’s mayor Mehmet Harmancı, organised by the SRSS to mark European Action Week Against Racism.
The day saw stalls offering foods from places including Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ukraine and North Cyprus, while international students from those countries performed their countries’ traditional dances.
Representatives of the Goethe-Institut Zypern, the Cyprus Turkish French Cultural Association, the Refugee Rights Association, SOS Children’s Village, Mağusa Youth Centre and Akova Women’s Association were also present to provide information about their organisations.
“Too often, people are harassed, threatened or assaulted verbally or physically because of their ethnic origin, skin colour, religion, sexual orientation or disabilities,” Mr Makipaa said, without referring to any specific incidents in Cyprus.
“The EC rejects and condemns all forms and manifestations of racism and xenophobia.”
Mr Makipaa said instances of racism and “other forms of intolerance” such as “hate speech” had been growing at an alarming rate in Europe in recent years
“The use of the internet to incite violence and hatred has indeed a devastating effect on the groups that it targets and on those who stand for freedom, tolerance and nondiscrimination,” he said.
“Only together will we be able to ensure that effective measures are put in place to prevent and combat racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance in Europe.”
Mr Makipaa said “many projects addressing discrimination and human rights” in North Cyprus had already been supported as part of the EU’s “aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community”.
Mr Harmancı said racism and xenophobia were the “major problem of this century”, noting that Turkish Cypriots had also been affected.
“The motto of our municipality is a city with diversity — different colours — where all can coexist peacefully,” he said.