Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1392, (3 - 9 May 2018)
Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Issue 1392, (3 - 9 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Nostos: Reviving Roots

Egypt celebrated its Greek and Cypriot communities this week, reports Reem Leila


Al-Sisi, Anastasiades and Pavlopoulos during their meeting this week in Alexandria
Al-Sisi, Anastasiades and Pavlopoulos during their meeting this week in Alexandria

The Roots Revival initiative was inaugurated this week by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

The initiative, referred to as “Nostos: Reviving Roots, is part of a cooperation protocol signed by the trio in December, gives Greeks and Cypriots who once lived in Alexandria the opportunity to visit their old homes in the city. The Greek word “Nostos” means return to the roots. 

A week-long festival is taking place in Alexandria and Sharm El-Sheikh from 29 April until 6 May during which 120 visitors — second and third generation descendants of Egypt’s once thriving Greek and Cypriot communities — are scheduled to visit the areas in which their families once lived, Alexandrian districts such as Zizinia and Al-Raml, as well as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Giza Pyramids and the Monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai.

Al-Sisi’s meeting with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts also offered an opportunity to discuss mutual relations and ways to build on cooperation in the energy, tourism and agriculture sectors.

Al-Sisi hailed cooperation with Cyprus and Greece as a “model to follow in the Mediterranean region”.

The Roots Revival week seeks to resurrect the three nations’ common memories. A radio programme will be broadcast in which the stories of Cypriot and Greek officials and community members will be told, with many relating their personal experiences of Alexandria, alongside commentary from historians and sociologists.

During his speech inaugurating the festival Al-Sisi said Greek migrants to Egypt since the end of the 18th century had contributed to enriching the pluralism of Egyptian society. Greeks and Cypriots contributed to the growth of trade and the development of culture and art, working in industry shipbuilding, tourism, agriculture and printing and publishing.

The tripartite cooperation mechanism between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece reflects the durability of the historic relations between the three countries, said Al-Sisi.

Launched in November 2014, the mechanism is being developed in a way that ensures the security and stability of the Mediterranean region and develops the well-being of its people, said the president.

Pavlopoulos drew attention to the specificity of Egyptian-Greek relations, pointing to Egypt’s distinct position in the Mediterranean region and its role as a pillar of security and stability in the Middle East. He expressed keenness to continue working closely with Egypt on the bilateral level and within the framework of the tripartite cooperation mechanism with Cyprus.

Cypriot President Anastasiades said he has friends who were born in Alexandria and graduated from Alexandria University. They all have deep memories of the city, he said. Anastasiades went on to praise the celebration of foreign communities.

An Economic Business Forum is taking place on the sidelines of the festival, organised by the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, to discuss ways of increasing trade with Greece and Cyprus. Talks are already underway with Cyprus to construct an underwater pipeline connecting Cyprus’ Aphrodite field to Egypt’s LNG liquefaction facilities. The pipeline will help Cyprus export its natural gas.

The Roots Revival initiative is the first of its kind, says Presidential Spokesman Bassam Radi.

“Egypt has the ability to welcome everyone and anyone who has lived on its land and left their human legacy and heritage,” he said, adding that the festival sent a message to the world that Egypt is safe and secure.


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