In July of this year, the Woman of Europe 2007 will awarded – and one of these candidates is a close neighbour to the WBII. Tasoula Hadjitofi is the owner/director of Octagon BV (an IT and manpower services company) located on the Laan Copes van Cattenburch 62.
The International Association for European Women Promotion is a Brussel’s based NGO which aims to encourage the participation of women in European affairs. They organise the Woman of Europe Award which is given out once every three years. National committees in the member states select a candidate for the competition which is then judged by a panel of European personalities and journalists.
Tasoula was selected by Cyprus to be their representative for the award. She is Cypriot by birth but has lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1980. Her nomination recognises her many years of efforts to protect the cultural heritage of Cyprus.
The Turks invaded Cyprus in 1974 and closed the border between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. Tasoula, at the age of 15, was forced to flee her native city of Famagusta with her family. In 1987 she became aware that Greek Orthodox Churches in the Turkish areas were being looted, their unique artwork sold illegally on the international fine art market. For 10 years she hunted these mosaics and frescoes, some of them dating from the 5th century in what is recognised as some of the oldest churches in Christendom.
Her work eventually led to changes in Dutch and European laws on the protection of cultural heritage and rights of ownership of items that come from areas that were looted as a result of war. Her work led to the repatriation of many works of art as well as a heightened awareness of and respect for cultural heritage in Europe.
Stay tuned…