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”.

 

Press Release: Webinar on Violence Against Women & Girls, Freedom of Religion or Belief & Gender Equality

Press Release

Webinar on Violence Against Women & Girls, Freedom of Religion or Belief & Gender Equality

23 November 2020

Two of the world’s top experts on freedom of religion or belief, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and Dr Nazila Ghanea, Director of International Human Rights Law Programmes of the University of Oxford, will address a webinar, this morning at 11.00 Cyprus time, organized and hosted by the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP), in cooperation with the Office Democratic Institutions & Human Rights of the OSCE (ODIHR/OSCE).

For the first time, the closed webinar will bring together a selection of Cypriot women from faith-based communities and secular civil society organizations that have worked with the RTCYPP during the last ten years.

The discussion aims to initiate a reflection process to understand better and clarify the relationship between freedom of religion or belief and gender equality, held within the framework of the UN OHCHR’s Faith for Rights initiative which RTCYPP supports.

This initiative follows on the historic 2017 Joint Statement of the Religious Leaders of Cyprus condemning all forms of violence against women and girls and marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, starting on the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women and ending on the International Human Rights Day.

 

 

 

RTCYPP News 2.10.2020

RTCYPP News 2.10.2020

Ten years of peacebuilding efforts later, the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP) has brought about significant changes for religious freedom on the island through dialogue & cooperation.
The religious leaders of Cyprus who lead the RTCYPP, their respective clerical order and members of the faith communities, both young and old, have started to work together in ways like never before in the modern history of Cyprus.
To mark our ten-year anniversary, Office of RTCYPP will be highlighting some of those places where we have made a positive difference, celebrating the achievements of the RTCYPP & inspiring others to join in to ensure the full respect of religious freedom for everyone, everywhere.
First in our series for this month, we have the privilege to introduce the clerics responsible for two of the most significant religious monuments and places of worship in Cyprus - Hala Sultan Tekke and the Monastery of Apostolos Barnabas.
Stay tuned for more.

International Peace Day 2020

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the UN General Assembly (A/RES/36/67) to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples. Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted (A/RES/55/282) to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire.The United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace. The theme of this year’s International Day of Peace is “Shaping Peace Together.” To celebrate the day, the world is invited to: spread compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic; and stand together against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred.
International #PeaceDay 2020 #RTCYPP #10Years - #BuildingBridges #10YearsDialogue4Peace #Standup4ReligiousFreedom

 

RTCYPP Press Release 16 June 2020

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Ann Linde Meets with the five Religious Leaders of Cyprus

 16 June 2020

H.E. Ann Linde, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, marked the 10 Year Anniversary of the RTCYPP by meeting with the Religious Leaders of Cyprus. The event was hosted by the Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Anders Hagelberg, and moderated by Sweden’s Special Envoy on Religion in Conflict and Peacebuilding.

Minister A. Linde congratulated the religious leaders of Cyprus for being the first in Cyprus to work together uninterrupted for human rights and peace, despite politics and real challenges.

“By coming together you have shown a different path. You meet regularly despite the political climate, you coordinate your responses. And you courageously stand up for the rights and each other’s needs. You have shown that religion can unite instead of divide.

You have shown that Cyprus should represent a mosaic of both Christian and Muslim culture across the island. You have shown that peace, healing and forgiveness is not just a dream. It is actually possible.”

On this occasion, Minister Linde asked Ambassador Hagelberg to hand over, in the name of His Majesty the King, the Royal Order of the Polar Star awarded to the Director of the Office of the Religious Track, Ms. Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud. Salpy is the one of the few Cypriots to receive this rare Swedish order, awarded to foreigners who have done extraordinary efforts for Sweden.

The motivation stated that, “Salpy has given Sweden visibility in the Cyprus peace process, a role as political actor and promoted Sweden and Swedish culture. She has put Sweden in the limelight, while standing discreetly behind. Her disinterested emphasis of Sweden as an actor for peace in Cyprus has substantially widened and deepened our bilateral relation on several levels, including on the highest political one.”

The Religious Leaders welcomed the meeting, thanked the Minister for the support of the Swedish government, and congratulated the RTCYPP Director for the award. In turn, they expressed their commitment to continue and build on the genuine cooperation they have had with the Embassy of Sweden and develop stronger and new ties with the Minister herself, as well as with her Ministry.

“The last ten years we have shown our strong will and commitment to work together to restore religious freedom in Cyprus. Religion is not the problem or the cause of the Cyprus conflict. Religious freedom is one of its victims”, said Archbishop Chrysostomos II of the Church of Cyprus. “It is the responsibility of the political leaders to solve this problem”.

“Despite the challenges and negative reactions, we reiterate whenever and wherever we can that places of worship have to be respected as such and be used for the purpose they were intended to”, said Mufti of Cyprus.

Without the right to access, to freely care for, administer and pray at our places of worship the wounds of separation will only get worse.  We are committed not to allow that to happen”, said Archbishop Khoren of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

“Healing the memories of the past, purifying them and to work on reconciliation between divided communities is our mission and nothing will stop us from doing what is most natural for us”, said Archbishop Soueif of the Maronite Church of Cyprus.

“We know the power and impact of forgiveness on healing and transformation”, said the Latin Patriarchal Vicar Reverend Jerzy Kraj. “Peacemakers become a channel of God's grace to others. When we pray for those who have offended us, it frees us to love as God loves. God's grace has power not only to change us, but also those who have hurt us.”

“I am honored to serve the cause of human rights and peace with the country I adopted because of your values I deeply cherish”, said Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud on receiving the award. “I thank you for trusting me and for believing in me to help Cyprus in a way I would never be able to if it were not for Sweden and the Religious Leaders of Cyprus.”

The meeting took place at the Home for Cooperation in the UN controlled Buffer Zone where the Religious Leaders present could be connected to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Muftiate of Cyprus electronically.

RTCYPP News 11.06.2020

As a gesture of goodwill, an expression of respect, Turkish Cypriot Muslims prayed at the Tomb of Apostle Barnabas. This year members of the Church of Cyprus ( Greek Orthodox) were not able to visit Saint Barnabas Monastery to pay their respects at the Tomb of the Apostle and pray at the Main Cathedral odue to the restrictions of movement in place for COVID 19 dividing the island into two parts.

"For us Apostle Barnabas is one of the holiest persons in Cyprus. As a close companion to Jesus he is a considered a very important saint in Islam. We pray for him not only today but always."Shakir Alemdar, Imam of Hala Sultan Tekke and Mufti of Larnaca, who expressed his regrets that Christians were not able to visit and pray at the Tomb of the saint this year.

Background Information:
On 11 June Christianity marks the feast of APOSTLE BARNABAS, venerated as the Patron Saint of Cyprus, founder of the autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, a prominent Christian disciple, born in Cyprus.
On this occasion, annual prayer services and pilgrimages are held on June 10-11 at the Cathedral and at the Tomb of St Barnabas in Salamis, in the Famagusta region of Cyprus.
The Saint Barnabas Monastery consists of the Cathedral of Saint Barnabas and a small chapel housing the remains of the Saint. As a result of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP) under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden and their 2014 agreement, for the first time since 1974 permission was secured for monthly worship services at the chapel over the Tomb of St Barnabas and every other month at the Main Cathedral including pilgrimages on June 10 and 11, to celebrate the feast of St Barnabas

RTCYPP News 03.06.2020

Executive Director of the Office for RTCYPP, Salpy Eskidjian took part in the 10th Online Session for KAICIID Fellows Alumni Network in Vienna, as the keynote speaker of the session titled “ The role of Religious Leaders in the Cyprus Peace Process”.

KAICIID is an intergovernmental organization whose mandate is to promote dialogue globally, as a means to prevent and resolve conflict and to enhance understanding and cooperation. The KAICIID International Fellows Programme (KIFP) is a training programme designed to connect and cultivate a network of religious leaders, educators and IRD practitioners from diverse various countries and from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and other religious backgrounds.

Ms Eskidjian spoke about the Cyprus conflict and peace process, the role of Religious Leaders in the process and the challenges and lessons learnt from working with such diverse communities. The participants were particularly interested in how education affects understanding and peace building activities, how to better promote gender equality when working with religious communities, as well as how communities can work together so that religion is not misused in conflicts.

The Online session was organised by the KAICIID Fellows Programme team.

Statement by the Religious Leaders of Cyprus condemning the attack to Köprülü Mosque in Limassol 1.6.20

Statement by the Religious Leaders of Cyprus condemning the attack to Köprülü Mosque in Limassol 1.6.20

We, the religious leaders of the five main faith communities of Cyprus, Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Armenian Orthodox, Maronite and Latin Catholic, who form the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden, committed and working all together for human rights and peace in Cyprus, express our united voice in condemning the acts of vandalization done last night to Köprülü Mosque in Limassol.

We are very saddened to hear this morning that petrol bombs were thrown into the sacred premises of the Köprülü Mosque and the outer wall was vandalised with racist graffiti against Islam and immigrants.

We categorically condemn any and all acts of vandalization and disrespect done to sacred places of worship. We are horrified to see such acts of violence and expression of Islamophobia, xenophobia and discrimination.

We stand up against all actions that try to damage the multicultural character of Cyprus we all strive to maintain. No acts of hatred can become obstacles to the power of love. For us, places of worship are sacred spaces where a culture of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation is nurtured and cultivated. .

For the past four years, the Köprülü Mosque in the Ayios Antonios neighbourhood in Limassol has been one of the positive examples of good and respectful cooperation of all stakeholders involved, including the Muftiate Of Cyprus, the current custodian and the local community association advancing religious freedom. As such, acts like these are not only disrespectful to the religious community but to all those who work together to advance respect, human rights and freedom of religion.