UN deluged by flag and anthem entries for Cyprus

NICOSIA (AFP) – The United Nations said yesterday it was overwhelmed by the high standard of entries for a catchy tune or striking flag design to represent a new-look Cyprus if a reunification deal is struck by February 28. «We are overwhelmed and gratified with the extraordinary high level of professionalism of the submissions,» UN spokesman Brian Kelly told AFP. He said UN staff were still counting, registering and logging more than 1,000 entries from 15 countries, as the competition close was extended by 24 hours to yesterday at 5 p.m. (1300 GMT) to allow for late entries from abroad. The procedure is expected to be completed by the end of the week, before the entries are sent to UN-chaired bicommunal committees comprising an equal number of Greek and Turkish Cypriots to be judged. «The two committees will have their work cut out for them, as there are hundreds of quality entries,» said the spokesman. Entries came from as far afield as Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the USA and Canada, and names are being kept separate from the flags apparently to ensure choices are not influenced by the ethnic origin of the artist. There were flag design submissions from entire families, while one professional design house entered 100 different flag designs. «One family, with a Greek-Cypriot father and Turkish-Cypriot mother entered the flag design of their 2-year-old child,» said Kelly. On the anthem front, the UN spokesman said that many music entries included sheet music and a full recording, and, in one instance, a complete orchestra rendition was submitted. Kelly would not comment on the actual flag designs or whether anthem entries were accompanied by lyrics. Cypriots and foreigners alike were invited to enter the open public competition last month, but the United Nations said it preferred music to lyrics and the tune had to be «catchy and no longer than 60 seconds.» The flag design had to be «striking, easily recognizable, pleasing to the eye and simple enough for a child to draw.» However, there is no financial reward for the winner, except maybe a footnote in history as the person who gave Cyprus something to sing about or even wave. Greek and Turkish Cypriots sing the national anthems of their respective mother countries. The official flag of Cyprus since independence from Britain in 1960 is the only one in the world with a map of the country – the island in copper on a white background with olive branches beneath.