17 May 1997

Why did Sakis give that concert in Cyprus (eng)

A lot of people have asked me why did Sakis give that concert in Cyprus at 19/5/1997 and why was it so controversial? I hope that the following article sets the record straight as to what Sakis intentions were and why the concert was "welcomed" the way it did by Greeks and Turks alike.

A remarkable concert should be taking place on May 19. This concert, a joint performance by Burak Kut, a pop idol from Turkey, and Greek recording star Sakis Rouvas, is to take place on the Green Line in Nicosia, the capital of divided Cyprus. It is the first time large groups of Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots have come together since the island state was partitioned in 1974 during a civil war. That partition, known as the Green Line, is patrolled by the world's longest running United Nations peacekeeping operation. The United Nations are hosting the concert, providing security, and distributing the tickets, all free, evenly to both sides of the Green Line. The concert is an extremely brave undertaking for the two performers, given the historical enmity between Greece and Turkey, the sensitivity of the "Cyprus Question" in both countries, and the fear of the resumption of active fighting between the two groups by all Cypriots. Greek nationalists in Greece and Cyprus believe Cyprus should be annexed by Greece, while Turkey invaded in 1974 to prevent such an occurrence (following a Greek-Cypriot military coup) and has maintained troops in the north ever since. Greek troops are also stationed on the island. In 1983, the Turkish- north declared itself independent as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), a state only recognized by Turkey, while the Greek- south continued as the Republic of Cyprus, a state that once encompassed the entire island when it became independent in 1960. The Republic of Cyprus (Greek) enjoys international recognition, a UN seat, and has applied to join the European Union while TRNC remains isolated. Both Greece and Turkey wish to resolve the crisis with the outcome being an independent, united Cyprus with constitutional guarantees for the Turkish minority. This concert is one small step towards that goal, and is reminiscent of a concert held three years ago in Lebanon. In 1994, Fairouz, one of the most popular singers in the Arab world, performed in her homeland for the first time since her country had disintegrated into civil war and was subsequently destroyed by Israel and Syria. She had vowed not to perform in her country until peace returned to Lebanon. These three performers, Fairouz, Burak Kut, and Sakis Rouvas, are to be commended for their activities and should serve as models of selflessness for other pop stars, many of whom are too caught up in their own egos to understand what is actually of importance in their own societies.

Source: Adrian Higgs, Billboard: May 17, 1997

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