On 02 July 2015 a special event was held in Famagusta to celebrate the reopening to the public of the Othello Tower/Citadel and completion of Phase 1 of the structural stabilization and conservation works.
The Grand Opening event was organized by the United Nations Development Programme Partnership for the Future, in partnership with the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage and the European Commission.
The opening ceremony included the theatre performance of “Othello” by W. Shakespeare in a new 40- minutes-long bi-communal adaptation. Young Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot actors took part in the play. “This was a very big chance for us because Othello Tower is a value of Cyprus, and we are sharing it together. I wish for this evening to be remembered as the night in which Cypriots performed Shakespeare’s Othello at the Famagusta Castle, together” said young Turkish Cypriot director Izel Seylani.
During the opening ceremony, messages were read on by representatives of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, UNDP and the European Commission.
In her welcoming remarks, Ms. Tiziana Zennaro, Programme Manager of the UNDP Partnership for the Future Programme in Cyprus drew attention to the fact that this was the first heritage site to benefit from the work of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage in Famagusta “which feels long owed to this city given its rich cultural heritage.”
This was also the first time that completion of works to a cultural heritage site was celebrated with a bi-communal art performance which the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, EC and UNDP hope will be the first of many other cultural events in this venue.
In his speech, Mr. Takis Hadjidemetriou, Greek Cypriot Representative of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage drew attention to the multifaceted history and the multiplicity of monuments in the Famagusta area “unfailing witness to the multicultural character of Cyprus”. Referring to future projects that the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage intends to start soon in Famagusta he said: “The walls surrounding us were, until recently, walls of separation and partition. Today, they have become the walls that unite us. The Ravelin Gate and the Martinengo Rampart are leaving behind war and conflict and are becoming again what they really are: part and parcel of our common cultural heritage”.
Echoing his Greek-Cypriot friend and colleague (the two were recently awarded the 2015 European Citizen's Prize), Mr. Ali Tuncay, Turkish Cypriot Representative of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage shed light on the working relationship existing within the Committee “Our working relationship in the Committee is our joint message to the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots. We can jointly benefit through cooperation on equal footing, mutual trust and understanding, and work for the common good of both communities” he said.
In her remarks, Ms. Cihan Sultanoğlu, UN Assistant-Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Europe and the CIS praised the threefold partnership with the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage the European Commission for the positive change it has made so far for the preservation of the island's rich cultural heritage and its contribution to the ongoing confidence and peacebuilding process. “Together we are translating our common values and goals into concrete actions such as the one we celebrate tonight. By working together, we can achieve so much more than by working alone” – she said (Read the full speech here).
The final speaker of the night, Mr. Normunds Popens - Deputy Director-General for Implementation, DG Regional and Urban Policy - European Commission also acknowledged the important work of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage expressing the European Union commitment to continue devoting funds to the efforts of the bi-communal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage “Today, with resumed settlement talks taking place in a very positive atmosphere giving us renewed hope for reunification, we celebrate a clear example of peaceful cooperation and reconciliation in the common interest of all Cypriots. The European Union and I personally are very proud to be part of this successful partnership” – he said.
The Grand Opening event was attended by approximately 300 people including political representatives from both communities, Heads of Missions and members of the diplomatic community, civil society representatives and residents of Famagusta.
The theatre performance of Othello was repeated on also 03 and 04 July. More than 1000 people attended the events marking a successful reopening of the Castle.
The Othello Tower/Citadel is now open to visitors Monday to Sunday, 9:30am to 5:00pm. A panel exhibition detailing and illustrating the different phases of the project has also been installed inside the Great Gallery and can be visited by public.
This press release has originally been published on July 16, 2015.