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“Prosfigosimo: A stamp for the refugees of Cyprus, the story of a symbol”

Address by H.E. the President of the House of Representatives Annita Demetriou at the opening of the exhibition entitled

Prosfigosimo: A stamp for the refugees of Cyprus, the story of a symbol

  • Annita Demetriou

I welcome you to the House of the Citizen and thank you very much for your presence.

This black and white image of the tearful child, a symbol, sitting huddled in front of the barbed wire has been following us for forty-nine years, a voiceless but, at the same time, so eloquent reminder of the nightmare that stirred for our Cyprus in the bloody July of 1974, when Attila’s forces illegally invaded our homeland, causing stories of horror and pain, some of which remain untold, but remain etched in our souls, passing down from generation to generation.

Committed art, attempting to express this anguish, to sanctify it, to transform it into hope and fighting spirit, has since played an important role in preserving the collective historical memory.

It is with great honour and emotion that I inaugurate tonight the exhibition entitled “Prosfigosimo:

A stamp for the refugees of Cyprus, the story of a symbol” the main exhibit of which is the engraved work of A. Tassos Cyprus 1974.

The painter-engraver Anastasios Alevizos, known as A. Tassos, was born in Lefkohora, Messinia, in 1914 and having already defined a remarkable fighting course by means of his art, assumed from the first the dimensions of the horror of the invasion, which led him to create, in 1974, the emblematic engraving Cyprus 1974, a symbolic work that voices what words cannot express.

The work has adorned since 1977, a kind donation by the artist, the Prosfigosimo (refugee stamp), the special stamp which, through its circulation, in addition to its contribution to the Refugee Fund, is a means of denouncing and informing internationally the ongoing illegal invasion and occupation of our homeland.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me add a few more comments about the main exhibit. Through the simplicity of the black and white contrast, the folds reminiscent of Byzantine iconographic lines and the absence of a background, the day after the invasion is aptly depicted: A child who, while in most works of art is a symbol of hope for the future, here is looking at us straight and petrified in a moment where he just exists, he just breathes, because, quite simply, the barbed wire is now behind him…

Dear friends,

All the works presented in the edition are distinguished by high aesthetic value and send strong messages regarding the tragic consequences of the invasion and occupation. I warmly congratulate the curator of the exhibition, Mrs. Maria Paphiti, for the selection of the works and at the same time I wish to thank from the bottom of my heart all the artists and the institutions that granted their works to our welcoming space, to narrate one of the dark pages of modern Cyprus history. I wish to thank the president of the Society of Visual Arts A. Tassos, Mrs. Irene Orati, for her important contribution to our contact with the work of this great artist. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Eureka Group for their generous sponsorships and enthusiastic support in general, as well as all the collaborators who contributed to the realisation of this exhibition. Finally, I wish to thank the Research, Studies and Publications Service of the House of Representatives for its contribution to the organisation of the exhibition, as well as the publication of the relative catalogue.

I would like to conclude expressing the wish and hope that the blessed moment will come when we will be able to live and create in a free country without barbed wire fences, without occupying troops, without anachronistic guarantees. In a reunited homeland where we will have established the feeling of peace, of security and of stability.

Where the refugee stamp will only be a memory in history and not everyday life. Not a wide-open wound.

Dear friends,

I hope you enjoy your tour. Let the works of art talk to each of us separately.

  • The House of the Citizen – Monday, 27 March 2023, 6.00 pm


6 May 1976

The Council of Ministers approved the selection of the engraving by A. Tassos Cyprus 1974 to illustrate the third refugee stamp.

In order to avoid the reprinting of the refugee stamp currently in circulation worth

10 mils and for the purpose of further promoting the refugee problem and greater demand for stamps by the philatelists, it is proposed to print a new stamp depicting the woodcut of the engraver Mr. Tassos “Cyprus ’74″[..].

The validation letter of the order of 10,000,000 pieces by the Aspioti-Elka Graphic Arts Company, in addition to its printing specifications, noted that:

The model will not be charged, but only the cost of its technical processing; the model is offered to Cyprus by Mr. Tassos.

On 29 December 1976, the Office of Public Information issued a short announcement informing the public of the release date of the New Refugee Stamp and also of its represented image.

This depicts the woodcut of the engraver A. Tassos “Cyprus ’74.

The stamp with the woodcut by A. Tassos has been in continuous circulation since

10 January 1977.

During the last forty-six years, it has been issued in several variations related to the color of the background. Furthermore, its sale value was unavoidably adjusted to the currency change (1984, 2004) and it was also periodically subjected to small increases in its price.

The wood engraving pf A. Tassos has left a deep mark both on the general public, as well as, on the artistic production of our country. The latter trend is manifested in multiple artworks created in the decades following the refugee stamp.

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