RTCYPP News 07.04.2021

RTCYPP News 07.04.2021

Religious Leaders of Cyprus are deeply saddened to hear the news that the grounds of the Armenian Monastery of St Magar were used for a live techno party on March 20th 2021, uploaded on YouTube on 7 April 2021.

The Religious Leaders of Cyprus condemn this unfortunate act and any misuse, disrespect and desecration of places of worship and cemeteries in Cyprus, irrespective of intention, religion, dogma & denomination.

The Religious Leaders reiterate their request that all places of worship and cemeteries, in use or not, are protected against vandalism, misuse and desecration.  Disrespecting places of worship and cemeteries creates pain, nurtures mistrust and becomes an obstacle to peaceful coexistence.

Background Note:

Sourp Magar Monastery is located in Halefka in the Pentadaktylos mountain range in Cyprus. This live techno party was organised by an event-planning group, that apparently organises and broadcasts electronic music events at entertainment venues, including historical and cultural locations. The event was recorded and uploaded on YouTube on 7 April 2021.

Sourp Magar is an Armenian Monastery is an 11th century Monastery founded by the Coptic Orthodox Church in memory of Saint Makarios the hermit of Alexandria. The Monastery was transferred to the Armenian Community in Cyprus during the 15th century and has belonged to and has been intrinsically linked to the community ever since.

St Magar Monastery has been left uncared for since 1974 and is in dire need of immediate protection, renovations and full restoration. It is the most important place of worship and pilgrimage for the Armenian community of Cyprus and the only Armenian Monastery in Cyprus.

RTCYPP News 09.03.2021

International Women’s Day 2021

Cypriot Women of Faith Making a Difference in a COVID 19 world

8 March 2021

On 8 March 2021, the Office of RTCYPP under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden, hosted a webinar to mark International Women’s Day, titled “Cypriot Women of Faith Making a Difference in a COVID 19 world”.

The webinar followed an online discussion between the moderator, Mrs. Salpy Eskidjian – Executive Director of the Office of RTCYPP- and four women of faith in leadership in order to highlight & celebrate their efforts in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The four panelists were: Mrs Thekla Kallika, whose journey as a mother of 2 children with multiple disabilities gave birth to St Loucas Community, a non-profit, non–governmental organization aimed at setting up the first state-of-the-art Multifunctional Community Centre in Cyprus offering health care, accommodation, support and development to adults and children with disabilities; Mrs. Gosia Chrysanthou, who is currently the Case Supervisor overseeing all field operations dedicated to assisting the vulnerable at Caritas Cyprus; Mrs. Zehra Balman,  who organized her local community to provide food for international students and needy families struggling to make ends meet due to lack of work because of COVID 19 lockdowns; and Ms Antigoni Michael, a young archaeologist who specialized in public engagement for cultural heritage and peace development and the first  Cypriot Youth Ambassador recently selected by Europa Nostra as a European Heritage Youth Ambassador.

It was an honor to welcome an audience comprised of a total of 50 participants, from religious institutions and faith-based organizations from Cyprus and abroad, diplomatic missions, intergovernmental and international organizations such as the OSCE, UN and a number of participants from NGOs and academia from different countries including Ambassadors, Religious Leaders as well as the first woman Force Commander in UN history Major General Kristin Lund of Norway, who urged women to join forces to make a difference in Cyprus as faith is and will be an important motivation for the peace process.

The panelists provided inspiring personal accounts of their experiences setting up and working for these initiatives aiming to raise awareness on dealing with a number of social issues and promoting social cohesion, transitional justice and acceptance in a world gravelly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The webinar was an initiative following the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, set by UN Women, which was “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”



International Women’s Day 2021

Cypriot Women of Faith Making a Difference in a COVID-19 World

To mark International Women’s Day, the Office of RTCYPP under the auspices of the Embassy of Sweden, will be hosting an online discussion with women of faith in leadership in order to highlight & celebrate their efforts in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

RTCYPP News 26.02.2021

RTCYPP News 26.02.2021

The Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP) was one of the three case studies highlighted at a seminar on “Freedom of Religion or Belief in Practise” organised and hosted by the “Faith & Belief Forum” on 25 February 2021.
Peter Weiderud, Sweden’s Special Advisor on Religion in Peace & Conflict and Moderator of the RTCYPP presented the RTCYPP elaborating further how promoting ForB can be an essential tool in peacebuilding. “The dedicated trust of the religious leaders, combined with the long term support from the facilitation team and international recognition are the main reasons for the success of the Religious Track”, said Peter Weiderud in the seminar.
Kishan Manocha, Director of the OSCE Department of Tolerance and Non-Discrimination; Radia Bakkouch, President, Coexiste France and; Zainab Mohammed Ibrahim from the Development Initiative of West Africa also addressed the seminar.
Faith & Belief Forum is, an organisation in the United Kingdom that, for over 20 years has worked to build good relations between people of all faiths and beliefs. They were founded in 1997 as the Three Faiths Forum. Over the years their work expanded to include people of all faiths and beliefs, both religious and non-religious, hence the change in name in 2018, to the Faith & Belief Forum to better reflect this inclusive ethos.

RTCYPP News 23.02.2021

RTCYPP News 23.02.2021

Executive Director of the Office of RTCYPP, Salpy Eskidjian participates in the webinar on “Diplomacy and Religion” and shares her knowledge and experience of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden(RTCYPP).
During the webinar, organised by the Swedish Dialogue Institute for the Middle East and North Africa, four prominent speakers reflected on the importance of “religious literacy” for diplomats, the role faith-based organisations play in peace and security, as well as socio-economic development.
Illustrations from Cyprus, Jerusalem and Riyadh showcased why it is important for diplomats and staff of intergovernmental bodies, development agencies and others to have basic knowledge on religion and its interface with human rights, peacebuilding, development & human security.
“Initiatives that introduce and enhance religious literacy in the world of diplomacy are extremely timely, needed and very welcome”, said Salpy Eskidjian. "We note the positive impact of various aid programmes when EU, the UN and member states involve or engage with faith communities and their religious leaders, especially in places where faith and belief play a large part in shaping customs, practices, identity and frameworks of well- being. Grateful to have had the opportunity to share about the RTCYPP which remains a unique example of religious diplomacy in a protracted conflict, not just in the region but globally, supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden since 2010. “
The virtual meeting brought over 40 participants from the Swedish Foreign ministry, embassies, SIDA and other specialized agencies.
The session was moderated by Ambassador Charlotta Sparre, Director of the Swedish Dialogue Institute; with Prof. Azza Karam - Secretary General of Religions for Peace, Ambassador Ulrika Sundberg - Sweden’s Special Envoy to OIC for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Mr Georg Andrén - Governor and Head of the County Administrative Board in Värlmand and Mrs Merete Bilde, policy advisor at the EEAS on issues at the cross section of religion and foreign policy as panellists. (RTCYPP News 23.2.2021)
Photos from RTCYPP Archives 2018 - Ambassador Olsson Vrang of Sweden hosts the first High Level meeting of the RTCYPP with the 5 main Religious Leaders Of Cyprus and the diplomatic corps.

RTCYPP News 16.02.21

Please take a look at the video made by the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions for Human Rights (ODIHR) launched to deepen understanding of the Freedom or Religion or Belief (FoRB).

The Office of Democratic Institutions for Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE and the Office of RTCYPP have been working closely together since 2017 when ODIHR partners listened to a presentation by the Director of the Office of RTCYPP in the Rabat-plus10 Conference in Morocco.

The cooperation with OSCE-ODIHR will continue in 2021, especially since Sweden has taken over chairmanship of the OSCE as of January 2021. We are deeply honoured to be working together with OSCE ODIHR partners and to be under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden in Cyprus!

Video Credits @OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions for Human Rights (ODIHR)

RTCYPP News 11.02.21

RTCYPP News 11.02.21

On the occasion of the feast of St Vartan, the Religious Leaders of Cyprus and the RTCYPP facilitation team send a message of congratulations and their best wishes to H.E. Archbishop Khoren of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cyprus on the occasion of his Nameday.
(RTCYPP photo archives 2019-2020)

RTCYPP News 7.12.2021

We strongly condemn the misuse of the Church of Archangelos Michael this weekend by the village’s Municipality, EVQAF Foundation and EVQAF Goodness Volunteers organization without the consent of the respective religious leadership.

While the cause and intention of the bazaar is a positive one, the organizers ignored that they were misusing a place of worship of another and disrespecting a faith community.

On 6 December 2020, a bazaar of homemade products took place in the Archangelos Michael Church in the village of Lefkoniko, known as Geçitkale in Turkish.

The Church was renovated in 2017 by the UNDP-PFF on behalf of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage with EU funds.

The event at Archangelos Michael is the first of a series of bazaars organized by the EVQAF Foundation and Volunteers Association, announced by the former on December 1 on their Facebook page, stating they will be taking place on the first Saturday of every month organized with the consent of the EVQAF General Director Dr Ibrahim Benter.  We ask the custodian and organizers to stop using places of worship  without the consent  and approval of the religious leadership for such activities.


RTCYPP News 4.12.20

RTCYPP News 4.12.20

RTCYPP facilitation team meets with Turkish Cypriot Community Leader

Executive Director of the Office of RTCYPP Ms Salpy Eskidjian and Sweden’s Special Advisor on Religion, Peace & Conflict , Mr Peter Weiderud joined Ambassador of Sweden H.E. Mr Anders Hagelberg in a meeting this morning with the new Turkish Cypriot community leader, H.E Mr Ersin Tatar.

“We very much appreciated the opportunity to meet with the new Turkish Cypriot community leader and grateful for the friendly and frank conversation”, said the Director of the Office of RTCYPP. “We look forward to working together with His Excellency, the religious leadership of the island as well as other representatives of faith communities to ensure the full respect of religious freedom or belief in the island”.