RELIGION, PEACEBUILDING AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN CYPRUS
The Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP) is a peacebuilding initiative with the religious leaders of Cyprus who are committed to work together for human rights, peace and reconciliation. The Office of RTCYPP, based at the Home for Cooperation, was established in 2011 to encourage, facilitate and serve the religious leaders’ dialogue and efforts for religious freedom and peace in Cyprus and to contribute positively and constructively to the Cyprus peace talks.
Archbishop Chrysostomos II and Mufti Talip Atalay are the first religious leaders of Cyprus in over five decades who established a successful working relationship with each other with the help of Swedish facilitation. In 2012, the Greek Orthodox primate of the Church of Cyprus and the Muslim Mufti invited the heads of the Maronite, Armenian Orthodox and Latin Catholic Churches to join them in their efforts to advocate for religious freedom, human rights and peace in Cyprus.
Originally a quiet initiative that started in 2009, at the residence of the Swedish Ambassador to Cyprus, the RTCYPP evolved into an active peacebuilding effort based on four pillars: To get to know and build trust among the religious leaders and respective faith communities; To promote confidence-building measures; To advocate for the right to free access and worship at churches, mosques and monasteries; To ensure the protection of all religious monuments in Cyprus.
The RTCYPP brought about important breakthroughs for religious freedom and human rights in Cyprus fostering interreligious, cross-community communication and cooperation. Among others, with the support of and in the presence of Muslim and Christian religious leaders or their representatives, the RTCYPP has contributed to the opening, repairs and cleaning of a number of neglected and closed religious monuments to be used for worship, some for the first time ever since 1963 or 1974 and has facilitated special pilgrimages to Hala Sultan Tekke since 2014.
The Religious leaders of Cyprus advocate jointly for religious freedom and human rights. Historic joint statements and appeals have been adopted:
Joint Statement on the Resumption of Peace Talks (26 February 2014)
Joint Statement of the Religious Leaders of Cyprus, against all forms of attacks, terrorism and violence (24 November 2015)
Joint appeal for missing persons in Cyprus (9 December 2016)
Joint Statement Condemning Violence Against Women and Girls (8 March 2017).
In June 2017, the Religious leaders issued a statement in support of the ongoing peace negotiations in Crans Montana.
Office of RTCYPP
The Office of RTCYPP aims to foster knowledge, nurture respect and understanding, and to build trust between the communities in Cyprus, with the initiatives; “Know Your Neighbour: Respect One Another” – which promotes awareness and respect for the different commemorated feast by the religious communities in Cyprus; RTCYPP Round Table for Human Rights – which encourage dialogue on freedom of religion between faith communities and civil society; together with a clear communication output on social media and website.