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Army's band's dire rendition of national anthem just another plot to change history.

Byline: Jacqueline Theodoulou

A MEETING of the House Defence Committee yesterday descended into a farce when deputies were forced to discuss a musical error by the National Guard (NG) band during its rendition of the national anthem.

Heated accusations of "hidden agendas" and conspiracies to alter the island's history flew back and forth, as NG Chief Constantinos Bisbikas sat red-faced and accepted the fire.

The issue arose during the NG's recent celebration of Ayia Varvara a" the army's patron saint a" in the presence of the Defence Minister, Defence Committee and army officials.

Halfway through the national anthem at the end, the NG band altered the song in a way that infuriated MP Zacharias Koulias of DIKO, who then proceeded to submit the matter for parliamentary discussion.

DISY deputy Costas Constantinou was even more enraged during yesterday's discussion, when he suggested the error was connected to the government's plans "to alter the island's history".

When Lieutenant General Bisbikas explained the mistake was down to the fact that the band's members had only enrolled last July and were therefore inexperienced, which meant the entire affair was merely a mistake, it soon became evident to most deputies present that even discussing the matter was ridiculous and a pure waste of time.

Speaking after the meeting, Committee Chairman Yiannakis Omirou of EDEK said: "During a recent ceremony by the National Guard, which was attended by our Committee, the NG band played the national anthem in a way that provoked reactions. This prompted Mr Koulias to submit the matter for discussion."

He added: "The National Guard Chief was invited, as well as the band's director, who explained that the band members were not well-acquainted with the musical instruments. I don't feel political expediency was hiding behind it."

DISY deputy Soteris Sampson was keen to play his fellow party member's early outburst down. "When the National Guard can't play the national anthem properly at such a nationally sensitive time, it sends out the wrong messages. I don't want to blame the soldiers or officers, but ways need to be found to avoid the National Guard being exposed again in the future."

AKEL's Aristos Aristotelous, who was the first to point out that the matter wasn't even worthy of discussion, said he was saddened by the whole affair.

"It was an intense discussion, which was wrongly turned into a matter of extreme importance," said Aristotelous. "I am saddened as I feel this should not have occupied the Committee. Some specifications would have been enough. It is unacceptable and it really should not have even been worthy of comments."

But Koulias stuck to his guns. After the meeting, he told reporters: "At the end of the ceremony, the national anthem was played and it was anything but the national anthem," he said. "It has been proved that it was indeed played wrongly, but we were offered this meagre excuse that the soldiers had only enrolled in July and didn't know how to do it. This has been the Cyprus Republic's anthem since 1960 and this has never happened before. Anyone can have their own opinion on why this happened."

Koulias also claimed the band had pre-rehearsed its own version of the anthem on purpose.

Copyright [c] Cyprus Mail 2009

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Feb 13, 2009
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