|The first EUROPA stamps were released in 1956 by 6 European countries. For every year till 1973 (and while the number of the member countries gradually increased to 26) the design was common to all of them. Since 1974 only the subject has remained common while each country is free to adopt its own design. This year the subject is "historical events". Cyprus, which joined the EUROPA issues in 1961, is releasing two stamps. One of them is depicting the liberation of Cyprus from the Saracen raids, which lasted from the 7th to the 10th century and caused great devastation as well as a temporary displacement of its population. The defeat of the Saracen fleet by general Nikitas Halkoutsis, who was sent by the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, brought Cyprus back into the Byzantine Empire and contributed to its rebirth and prosperity. The second stamp relates to the conversion to Christianity of the Roman Governor of Cyprus, Proconsul Sergius Paulus in 45 A.D. This occurred in Paphos, the capital of Cyprus at that time. The miracle of the blinding of Elymas, the Jew witch-doctor, who intervened to stop the Proconsul's conversion to Christianity initiated the first Roman Official into the new religion.|
Source: Department of Postal Services, Republic of Cyprus.