The three minority religious groups in Cyprus, namely Maronites, Armenians and Latins, belonging to the Greek Cypriot community under the terms of the 1959 constitution, elect a representative each to the House and deal with educational and religious matters.
The Melkonian was the major issue throughout the by-election and was expected to remain so in the general elections of May 2006. Atamian pre-election commitments were centered on saving the Melkonian Educational Institute arbitrary shut down by the New York based central board of the AGBU (Armenian General Benevolent Union).
"The most important problems facing our community right now are the Melkonian Educational Institute, the ancient Armenian cemetery, and our historic and religious monuments which have been under Turkish military occupation since 1974 and are in deplorable conditions," Atamian said after his victory.
Atamian called upon the 3.000 members of the entire Armenian community to join him in the struggle to find solution to the serious problems of the community and said that he would be running for election to a full five year term in next May's parliamentary elections.
"I shall stand again in order to complete the work which I am about to start. As I declared in my pre-election campaign I shall also start meetings with our own church and political party factions, starting with Catholicos Aram of the House of Cilicia, because I believe that our daily life is very much centered around the church and the school. Here I pledge that I shall spare no efforts in order to achieve the continuation of the Melkonian. For that I shall need the full support of all walks of Cyprus-Armenian life irrespective of political beliefs", he added.
Chief Returning Officer Lazaros Savvides, announcing the election results, said there were 1.928 registered voters of which 1.538 cast their ballots.
There were 1.478 valid votes, Atamian received a total of 769 votes or 52.03 percent, and succeeds Bedros Kalaydjian who passed away on September 1st 2005 at the age of 71. He was supported as an independent candidate, by the AGBU Clubs of Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol, the Ramgavar Liberal Democratic Party, the Hentchag Nor Seround as well as Armenian left-wingers and the Sanoutz Mioutyoun Melkonian Alumni Association.
Both independent candidates, Ashdjian was backed by Dashnaktsutyoun while Zartarian only had his family to support him.
- ATAMIAN WINS ARMENIAN BY-ELECTIONS, By Georges der Partogh. AZG Armenian Daily, October 11 2005.