By Guita G. Hourani
On Wednesday the 25th of November, Ms. Guita Hourani, the Chairperson of the Maronite Research Institute (MARI), met with the two Maronite Representatives in the Cypriot Parliament, Their Excellencies Antoniou Avraam and Antonis Haji Roussos. This meeting was at the invitation of His Excellency Boutros Gemayel, Archbishop of the Maronite Diocese of Cyprus.
The meeting took place in the presence of the Archbishop at the Maronite Patriarchal See in Bkerke after the two representatives had met with His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Nesrallah Peter Sfeir.
Mr. Avraam is an elected Member of Parliament for the Nicosia constituency of the AKEL-LEFT-New Forces Political Party. He was first elected in 1991 and reelected in 1996. He is the Secretary General of the largest trade union organization of Cyprus, the Pan-Cyprian Federation of Labour (PEO). He is also the Chairman of the House Standing Committee on Labour and Social Insurance. The election of Mr. Avraam to Parliament is considered an accomplishment for him and the community.
Mr. Haji Roussos is the Representative of the Maronite religious minority of Cyprus. Like his Armenian and the Latin colleagues, he is elected only by the members of his community.
According to the Constitution of Cyprus, there are two major communities on the island, Greek and Turkish; and three religious minorities, the Maronite community which is the largest with 5,000 members and the Armenian and the Latin communities. Each religious minority has a representative in the parliament. Every representative has the right to raise and defend social, cultural, and religious issues that affect his respective community.
Although these representatives enjoy most of the privileges of Members of Parliament, they have no voting power within Parliament. Currently, there are 56 elected members of Parliament (55 Greek and one Maronite), and three representatives of religious minorities (one for the Maronites).
Their Excellencies Avraam and Haji Roussos were on an official visit in Lebanon representing the Cypriot Government at the inauguration of the new Lebanese President.
Ms. Hourani, and Archbishop Gemayel, Mr. Avraam and Mr. Haji Roussos discussed the the matter of writing a history of the Maronite community in Cyprus, and the ways in which the Institute could cooperate with the community in its endeavors.
Ms. Hourani presented the two representatives with her article on the history of the Maronite Cypriots from the eighth to the nineteenth century, which appeared in the July 1998 issue of the Journal of Maronite Studies. Both representatives graciously extended an invitation to Ms. Hourani to visit Cyprus to conduct follow-up meetings. The gentlemen were very pleased to learn that the Institute is genuinely concerned with the welfare of the Maronite Cypriot community.
MARI is grateful to Archbishop Gemayel for suggesting and arranging this meeting. MARI asks God's blessing and protection for the Maronite community in Cyprus. We wish Archbishop Gemayel and the two Representatives success in their work for the community.
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