The following post is guest written by Ernest Fasanya and Jenny Stevens.
This is a story that in truth goes back over over 50 years. Our involvement with the flag of Cyprus is a mere 13 years old.
In August 1960, Ismet Güney’s design for the national flag of the Republic of Cyprus came into use, representing the fact that the country was now independent. In 1974, the self-declared state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus adopted its own flag, the Flag of Northern Cyprus. The two flags have continued to epitomise the political division of Cyprus which still persists today.
In January 2003, the United Nations held an open competition for the design of a new flag for Cyprus, seeking to find an emblem of reconciliation and unity as part of the evolving Annan Plan. As architects and graphic designers, Fleuron had never designed a flag before and we were intrigued. We submitted a number of entries, based around unifying concepts of peace and trust. As the issues in the Annan Plan became intractable, the competition fell victim to political inertia.
We promptly forgot it, parking the design in a small and unused mental cubbyhole entitled “Vexillographica oblita”.
In 2014, we quite accidentally came across this work again just at a point of inflexion in the political process, and, seeing some value in it we decided that there might still be some interest in the Cypriot community for such a design impetus. We chose and developed “Trust” as a new proposal.
We felt that if the notion of new flag could be shared amongst those with influence in the Cypriot community both in the UK and in Cyprus itself, this might lead to an opening up of a space for discussion around the flag and the issues of identity, diversity and community. We wrote to the President of Cyprus, the President of the TRNC, the UK ambassador, religious leaders on both sides and a number of other prominent individuals with an interest in Cyprus to present our design for a new flag, hoping that such discussion might start to grow.
A new flag for Cyprus offers the opportunity to symbolise the joint aspirations of its people, who should be able to see themselves in it as a unified but varied group.
We felt that the design should be simple enough for a child to recognise, clear enough to distinguish it amongst the other nations and bold enough to stand proudly on the world stage. It should say there is a new Cyprus which builds on the synergy of difference, is committed to a common future, and is not afraid to embrace the colours of red and blue.
Our design takes the Turkish Red and the Greek Blue and brings them together in a handshake of trust and agreement, building a new Cyprus formed from mutual respect, tolerance and reconciliation, co-operation and hope. We also think it’s quite snazzy.
As the politicians and diplomats sit down again during this and the coming weeks to try to finalise their discussions around unification, we would like to think that our design can help to turn a new page in the history of the Copper Isle.
For more of our flag adventures please visit our blog:
Ernest Fasanya and Jenny Stevens