Press Release: International Peace Day 2021

Ring the Bells and Call for Peace, Religious Freedom and Heritage

21 September, 2021

Office of RTCYPP under the  Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden

To mark International Peace Day on 21 September 2021, Office of RTCYPP in Nicosia joined Europa Nostra in Venice to Ring the Bells & Call for Peace & Religious Heritage .

This symbolic initiative hopes to raise the alarm for endangered cultural and religious heritage, highlighting, the important relationship between conflict transformation, peace building and the safeguarding of religious heritage.  It is a wake-up call for the urgency to find a sustainable future for our endangered religious heritage.

The International Day of Peace was established 40 years ago by the General Assembly of the United Nations to encourage non-violence and ceasefire across the world. The 2021 theme of the International Day of Peace is “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world”.  Additionally, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of 21 September as International Peace Day.

Religious heritage sites make up a large number of endangered heritages, they are also threatened as targets during conflict, often very difficult to protect and maintain during post conflict.  They are destroyed, demolished, desecrated never allowing the wounds of war to heal.

The vulnerability of religious heritage sites in conflict and post conflict situations and its significance in the transformation of conflict, peace making and peace building has become increasingly apparent, highlighting the need to intensify the urgency to ensure that our shared heritage is protected from these devastating effects.

Since 2010, the RTCYPP is calling on everyone to respect the Christian and Muslim religious heritage of Cyprus and recognize that this plays a key role in the peacebuilding process, fostering a climate of dialogue, understanding and mutual trust.  RTCYPP advocates for the fundamental right to religious freedom or belief and for the right of the faith communities to have free access to administer their places of worship and protect their religious heritage.  The important role that cultural and religious heritage plays in the process of peace-making was recently also recognized and highlighted by the European Council. Through this symbolic initiative and with the support and cooperation of organizations like Europa Nostra, RTCYPP aims to highlight the significance of religious heritage to peace building and the right to religious freedom in the process of enforcing it.

International Peace Day 2021 – Ringing the Bells, Calling for Peace, Religious Freedom and Heritage

RTCYPP News 8.9.2021

RTCYPP News 8.9.2021

A delegation from the Embassy of Sweden including Swedish foreign ministry’s Special Advisor on Religion in Conflict , Mr Peter Weiderud, Charge d’Affairs and deputy head of mission of the Embassy of Sweden, Mr Bengt Baedecka and executive director of the Office of RTCYPP Ms Salpy Eskidjian congratulate the newly enthroned Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus , H.E Selim Sfeir.

RTCYPP News: 7.9.21

RTCYPP News: 7.9.21

The Special Advisor on Religion & Conflict of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Mr Peter Weiderud ,takes the opportunity to pay a visit to the Armenian Church of Sourp Asdvadzadzin in Nicosia on the morning of 7th September following a meeting with the General Director of EVQAF.
The Armenian Church, School & Prelature complex is under the guardianship of the Cyprus Evqaf Administration alongside most of the Christian places of worship which are found in the northern part of the island, controlled by the Turkish Cypriot authorities since the division of the island in 1974. The Armenian Church complex was restored with funds provided by USAID with the support of the Armenian Orthodox Church & the Evqaf Administration.
Mr Weiderud is currently in Cyprus to hold meetings with representatives & leadership of religious communities of Cyprus. His visit and meetings are organized & coordinated by the Office of the RTCYPP under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden in Nicosia.

Press Release “The Religious Heritage of Cyprus” on Website

Press Release


“The Religious Heritage of Cyprus” on Website

2 August 2021

The Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Cyprus announce the launch of “The Religious Heritage of Cyprus” website

The website contains an interactive map with Christian and Muslim places of worship and cemeteries, including photos and background information, starting with the districts of Larnaca and Kyrenia followed by the rest of the island starting with the district of Nicosia,coming soon.  Presented in a simple, descriptive, and impartial way, it allows everyone interested to witness the current status of the religious heritage of the island and learn more about it.

From the very beginning of the RTCYPP, the Religious Leaders have advocated for the right to freedom of religion or belief and the protection of the shared religious heritage of Cyprus including free access to all sacred spaces to restore, renovate and worship. Since 2011, they have worked together to promote the universal values of religious freedom and invited others to join them.

The Religious Heritage of Cyprus website, launched today, is part of the Religious Heritage of Cyprus  project begun in 2019 headed by Dr Thorsten Kruse from the University of Münster in Germany.  The result was the first ever research publication where Christian and Muslim religious monuments and cemeteries appear side by side, called “The Religious Heritage of Cyprus - a Survey in the Districts of Kyrenia and Larnaca”, mapping out Christian monuments and sites in the Kyrenia district and Muslim monuments and sites in the Larnaca District; funded by the Human Rights Fund of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and supported onsite by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Nicosia.  The Religious Heritage of Cyprus website hosts all the information held in the booklet, as well as further research, funded by FES, for the district of Nicosia (coming soon), in an interactive map platform available here:

The project is currently coordinated by the Office of RTCYPP endorsed by the Religious Leaders of Cyprus.

Give it a click to learn more about rich religious heritage of the island and join us to protect it and uphold the right to religious freedom.


RTCYPP News 29.7.21

RTCYPP News 29.7.21

Office of RTCYPP appreciates the visit of Ambassador Garber of USA to Koprulu Mosque in Limassol and her support to uphold and advance religious freedom.
Imam Shakir Alemdar received the Ambassador & her delegation and gave a tour of the mosque accompanied by the Turkish Cypriot caretaker of the Mosque. Imam Shakir highlighted the importance of religious freedom in Cyprus and the joint efforts of the religious leaders of Cyprus in this regard.
In a public statement the USEmbassy in Cyprus stated that; « Promoting universal respect for freedom of religion or belief is a core objective of U.S. foreign policy ».
Following efforts of the Office or RTCYPP and full support of the Archbishop Chrysostomos II & Mufti Atalay of Cyprus, the Koprulu Mosque in Limassol, has been free & open for worship, administered by its rightful owners & community of faith.

RTCYPP News: 29.7.31

RTCYPP News: 29.7.31

Episcopal Ordination of Corbishop Selim Sfeir as Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus. H.E. Sfeir succeeds H.E. Archbishop Yousef Soueif who is currently serving as Maronite Archbishop in Tripoli.

Statement from the Office of RTCYPP – 26 July 2021

Statement from the Office of RTCYPP

26 July 2021
Religious Leaders of Cyprus, extend sincere thanks, appreciation and their respects to Prof. Dr Talip Atalay as he leaves office as Mufti of Cyprus and wish him all the very best in his new endeavors. Described by all who worked with him as a person with integrity & dignity, honest, genuine, courageous, polite, patient and kind, he will be missed by all who knew him.
Professor Dr Atalay was the first Mufti in the history of Cyprus who was in dialogue with all religious leaders of Cyprus and faith communities in Cyprus. Together with Archbishop Chrysostomos II, head of the autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, he worked tirelessly for ten years, to create understanding, build bridges of trust among the faith communities of the island and advance religious freedom.
Together they invited the Armenian, Maronite and Latin Catholic Religious Leaders of Cyprus to join them on a journey of transformation, where the language of understanding, solidarity, human rights and peace found centre stage.
Inspired by their religious teachings and driven by their strong commitment to bring about positive change, the five religious’ leaders of Cyprus took courageous and unprecedented steps together and were able to bring about concrete and significant steps for religious freedom, human rights, peace and reconciliation.
Since 2011, their united voice and witness were heard, recognized & appreciated by different international institutions, among others, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary General and his Good Offices in Cyprus, UNFICYP, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Religion, the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE, the European Commission, the US Department of State and the diplomatic community in Cyprus. Together they reached out and established relationships with political leaders, UNFICYP, Committee on Missing Persons, UNHCR – Cyprus, local political parties, municipalities, women’s groups, academics and countless non-governmental organizations.
Throughout the process, Dr Atalay remained a man of principle and sincere values, loyal to his own faith and beliefs. Despite the critique, misunderstandings, even attacks he continued to seek truth, teach love and uphold justice.
The Office of the Religious Track of the Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden and all involved join the Religious Leaders of Cyprus to sincerely thank Dr Atalay for his trust, cooperation & leadership and extend best wishes for the future.
Dr Atalay served as Mufti of Cyprus from December 2010 until 17 July 2021 when his service was terminated.

Efforts for religious freedom, commitment to peacebuilding and forgiveness by Cyprus religious leaders recognized by UN Secretary-General

Efforts for religious freedom, commitment to peacebuilding and forgiveness by Cyprus religious leaders recognized by UN Secretary-General


UN Secretary-General 's July 2021 report on his mission of good offices in Cyprus, once again highlighted how the Religious Leaders of Cyprus sustained their commitment to peacebuilding and reconciliation within the framework of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP).
The Secretary General highlighted the joint public statements of the Christian & Muslim religious leaders, promoting forgiveness, counteracting further polarization and standing up for religious freedom.
Secretary General Guterres pointed out the joint statements issued by the religious leaders swiftly and in a conciliatory manner, for cases of desecration and vandalism of places of worship; prevented serious and potentially harmful to intercommunal relations, backlash. Lastly, the report highlighted how religious pilgrimages, part of an unprecedented agreement reached between Archbishop Chrysostomos II and Mufti Talip Atalay in 2014 within the framework of the RTCYPP and supported by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus; have been an important confidence-building measure.

RTCYPP News 6.7.21

RTCYPP News 6.7.21

H.B Archbishop Chrysostomos II , H.E Mufti Talip Atalay , H.E Archbishop Khoren accompanied by Imam Shakir Alemdar meet in person for the first time since the COVID pandemic. The Religious Leaders of Cyprus were attending the reception hosted by H.E. Judith Garber, Ambassador of USA celebrating US Independence Day, commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States, on July 4, 1776.
The religious leaders of Cyprus appreciate the efforts of the US Embassy for religious freedom in Cyprus and the excellent collaboration with the Office of RTCYPP in this regard.