Now you see them, now you don’t for Cyprus Gypsies

Now you see them, now you don’t for Cyprus Gypsies

NICOSIA, April 3 (Reuters) – For three days last week, the thousand or
so Dom people, or Gypsies, of Cyprus looked set finally to join
Greeks, Turks, Armenians and others as one of the island’s official
ethnic groups.

But, after 600 years, it was not to be.

Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders negotiating reunification vetoed a
proposal by United Nations mediators to extend minority rights to the
Dom, including a special seat in parliament.

“Neither side wanted to give them the status that including them would
have provided,” said a diplomat involved in the talks in Switzerland
last week. The final draft — which makes no mention of the Dom —
goes to referendums on April 24 in a bid to end 30 years of division
between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The Dom, whose ancestors came to the island in the 14th century, had,
however, been recognised in an earlier draft of the constitutional
arrangements, seen by Reuters.

Three other minority groups — Latin, Maronite and Armenian Christians
— whose numbers are in the thousands out of a total population of
800,000 have their own, non-voting representative in the Cypriot
parliament under a 1960 constitution.

That constitution offers recognition to ethnic or religious minorities
numbering at least 500 people.

A Greek Cypriot official said he did not know why the Dom, referred to
as Roma by the U.N., had been excluded. Dom were not immediately
available for comment.

04/03/04 06:02 ET