We are here not to solve the Cyprus problem but to help for lasting peace, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou whose philanthropic foundation awards 50 Bi-Communal teams with cash prizes of €10.000 each every year.
In a press conference held in Nicosia on Tuesday, prior to the award ceremony, Sir Stelios noted the increase in the number of applicants in the “Partners in Life” category and wished to see even more applicants the next years. “If there are personal relationships there will be no war. I am in favour of peace”.
Haji-Ioannou held the press conference with Marios Eliades, Trustee of the foundation, a lawyer based in Nicosia Cyprus, Kerim Fuad, QC, advisor to the foundation, a London barrister and Peter Millet, also an advisor, former UK High Commissioner to Cyprus.
“We are here to help regardless of the political climate, every year we will help for peace on the island, he stressed. This work is more essential when it comes to difficult times, Sir Stelios said, adding that he believes that giving someone a financial incentive is not a bad thing if it is for a good cause. He announced that next year there will be new categories of prizes with smaller amounts for some projects, bigger amounts for some businesses that need it and the addition of the “Youth” category for people under 21, “because they are the future. If you manage to change their attitude, when they grow up they are more likely to work together. ”
Sir Stelios said that since 2009, the total sum of €3,750.000 in cash prizes has been awarded by his philanthropic foundation and this year more than 600 Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots applied for the Stelios Bi-Communal Awards 2019.
The winning category this year is Art, with a total of 12 awards. The rest of the awards are 8 for NGO, 7 for Business, 6 for Life (Partners in life), 6 for Science, 5 for Sport and 6 for other.
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, honoring Natalie Christopher’s memory and her will for peaceful coexistence in Cyprus, said that an award for €30,000 will be given for the three projects she had dreamt of with her Turkish Cypriot partners. He conveyed his condolences to Natalie’s family for their loss.
Haji – Ioannou explained why he believed he should give money back to society, referring to the foundation’s activities in the four countries its HQ’s are based, Cyprus, Greece, Monaco and Britain. He also said that the four buildings which host his offices are available for free to be used for events by other charities and good causes .
He added that “Food from the heart” is a charity activity through the foundation in Cyprus and Greece where daily 7500 people in need receive a snack. He referred to the help of 70.000 euros his foundation granted to the 7 victims of the serial killer in Cyprus and 20.000 to his two children via their mother.
Sir Stelios also mentioned the friendly football game last March in Pyla his philanthropic foundation has been organized under the auspices of the Peace and Sport organization based in Monaco with the presence in the only bi-communal village in Cyprus, of the famous football player Didier Drogba.
He said that he can sustain his philanthropic foundation thought the financial support of his Easy Jet group and remined that he has signed the petition of Giving Pledge which is a commitment that he will give half of his wealth and estate to charities and Stelios foundation.