State authorities in Cyprus continue to support minority language speakers by funding existing cultural institutions and establishing new sports facilities where their languages can be used, according to a new report by the Committee of Experts for the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. (see executive summary in Greek)
The Charter had entered into force in Cyprus in 2002 and applies to the Armenian and Cypriot Maronite Arabic languages.
The report indeed praises “regular” consultation with representatives of minority organisations and their elected representatives in the Parliament, by which their opinions are taken into account. Indeed, awareness about the Armenians and Maronites in Cypriot society has improved, and no cases of discrimination were reported. A new scheme for funding cultural activities and the overall financial support of the state authorities is “well-structured and adequate,” within the possibilities of the state budget, according to the report.
Armenian is taught in pre-school, primary and lower secondary education, with teaching of Armenian begun in upper secondary education from September, this year according to the state authorities of Cyprus. The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts a radio program in Armenian on a daily basis, but Armenian is absent from print media.
Meanwhile, Cypriot Maronite Arabic is taught only in primary education. The report says that teaching this language should be extended to pre-school and secondary education to cover more age groups and thus ensure the future of Cypriot Maronite Arabic. Cypriot Maronite Arabic is almost absent from broadcast media. However, according to government sources from Cyprus, a series of short documentaries on minorities that are being broadcast since September 2021 by the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) may raise awareness in Cyprus about both minorities and their languages, besides providing teaching materials in minority languages.
While the offer of teaching materials has improved since previous monitoring, the report calls on state authorities to improve teacher training for Armenian and especially for Cypriot Maronite Arabic.
The report notes that state financial support for both minority languages focuses on the cultural sphere of public life. But consultation between the minority language speakers and state authorities could be initiated to gradually extend both minority languages to other fields of public life, based on the slow but steady rise of the number of speakers of Armenian and Cypriot Maronite Arabic.