Religious Leaders of Cyprus meet on International Day of Tolerance
A High-Level meeting of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP) took place on 16 November 2017, coinciding with the 22nd Anniversary of the International Day of Tolerance. The meeting was hosted by the Ambassador of Sweden to Cyprus, H.E Anna Olsson Vrang, at her residence in Nicosia.
Present at the meeting were H.B Archbishop Chrysostomos II of the Church of Cyprus, H.E Talip Atalay, Mufti of Cyprus, H.E Archbishop Khoren Doghramadjian of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cyprus, Rev Jerzy Kraj, Latin Patriarchal Vicar and of the Apostolic Nunciature in Cyprus and Father Ibrahim Khita, representative of H.E Archbishop Soueif of the Maronite Church of Cyprus.
“Today’s meeting of religious leaders coincides with the International Day for Tolerance. The leaders’ commitment to work together for human rights, peace and reconciliation is nothing less than a testament to the spirit of this particular day, namely the universal values of mutual respect and tolerance. I am impressed by their courage and leadership in this regard and hope it can be an inspiration to others”, said Ambassador Olsson Vrang.
The religious leaders affirmed their commitment to dialogue and cooperation despite their differences, demonstrating that “the diversity of religions, languages, cultures and ethnicities in Cyprus will never be a pretext for conflict but a treasure that enriches them all.”
The religious leaders discussed recent developments related to the religious heritage of Cyprus and religious freedom in Cyprus, as well as their joint plans for the rest of the year. They reiterated their request for the political leadership to continue to intervene so that all places of worship and religious heritage in Cyprus are respected, permission is granted for their restoration and the right to worship is respected.
Prior to their meeting, the religious leaders jointly visited the Green Line together with UN SRSG Elizabeth Spehar, Head of UNFICYP and Ambassador Olsson Vrang. They welcomed the visit and reiterated their appreciation for the UN SRSG’s interest in and support for their joint peacebuilding efforts. The visit provided an opportunity for them to see the historic churches of St Jacob and St George, among others. The religious leaders expressed their dismay with the tragic state of the two churches and the lack of urgent action for their reinforcement despite their joint efforts under the auspices of the Embassy of Sweden.