RTCYPP News 8.9.17

Efforts for the Joint Statement of the Religious leaders of Cyprus on Violence Against Women acknowledged by Swedish MFA 2017 Award

The Office of RTCYPP is happy to share the news that the Embassy of Sweden in Nicosia has been awarded the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs “2017 prize for the work on the Government’s feminist foreign policy in the EU region“ recognizing its efforts to work with and strengthen women’s rights and participation in the Cyprus peace process for a unification of the island. The prize also acknowledges, among others, the efforts undertaken for the Religious Leaders of Cyprus to adopt their unprecedented joint statement condemning all forms of violence against women and girls.

“The Office of RTCYPP is grateful that the 2017 prize to the Swedish Embassy in Nicosia recognizes the significance of its efforts with the religious leaders’ of Cyprus for women and girls. The statement adopted in 2017 to jointly condemn all acts of violence against women and girls was a historic first step forward.” Said Salpy Eskidjian, Executive Coordinator of RTCYPP. “Together with the religious leaders and women’s organizations in Cyprus, the Office of RTCYPP will continue to work hard to turn these words into action.”
On March 8, 2017, the religious leaders of Cyprus, together with Margot Wallström, Foreign Minster of Sweden and Elizabeth Spehar, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, released their first ever-joint statement which was presented at a ceremony organized and hosted by the Office of RTCYPP at the Ledra Palace Hotel in the UN Controlled Buffer Zone in the presence of the leadership of different faith communities, civil society and women’s organizations, clerics, political parties and municipal leaders as well as members of the diplomatic corps, the EU, UNFICYP, UNDP-PFF and the media.

RTCYPP News 20.6.17

On the occasion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the religious leaders of Cyprus were guests of honour at an Iftar dinner reception with diplomatic community in Cyprus hosted by the Ambassador of The Islamic Republic of Iran in support of inter religious dialogue. H.E. Archbishop Khoren of the Armenian Orthodox Church, addressed the event and thanked the Ambassador on behalf of the religious leaders and the Office of RTCYPP.

We must transform the way we view what sets us apart. The event echoed the shared sentiments of the minster of foreign affairs of Iran – “Each and every one of us have a duty, as individuals, to be the change that we want to see in the world….The holy Quran emphatically commands – whoever kills a soul (…) it is as if he had slain human kind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he has saved human kind entirely. ….” “Unless we begin to see our differences as something to celebrate and a source of strength, they will remain open to be exploited as a point of weakness and division.”

RTCYPP News 15.6.17

The Religious leaders of Cyprus met with the General Coordinators of the Bi-communal Technical Committees Ambassador Andreas Pirishis and Dr. Meltem Onurkan Samani within the framework of the peace-building initiative known as the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP).

Dr Onurkan Samani also serves as Adviser to the Turkish Cypriot leader for Political Affairs and History. Ambassador of Sweden, Mrs. Anna Olsson Vrang, hosted the meeting at the Swedish Residence in Nicosia.
The Religious leaders warmly welcomed the two coordinators and thanked the Ambassador for hosting the meeting, which highlighted the shared main aim of the RTCYPP and the technical committees for confidence-building across the two main communities of the island, cultivating a culture of coexistence and unity. The religious leaders reiterated their commitment to work together to advocate for religious freedom and human rights in Cyprus. They expressed their gratitude to the two general coordinators for their cooperation and their willingness to support their joint efforts.
Both coordinators expressed their appreciation to the religious leaders for their commitment to work together to promote respect, peace and reconciliation in Cyprus and expressed their willingness to ensure that these efforts were acknowledged and further strengthened. The meeting was organized and facilitated by the Office of RTCYPP.

RTCYPP News 11.6.17

Respecting Freedom of Religion Unites!

Hundreds of Greek Orthodox faithful warmly welcome passionate messages of love, forgiveness and unity by Father Ioannou and Imam Küçük, gathered together at the Cathedral of Apostolos Barnabas near Salamis on June 11, 2017 to celebrate the feast of St. Barnabas, the founding apostle of the Church of Cyprus. The clerics publicly acknowledged the importance of the religious leaders’ dialogue for peace. They reiterated their commitment to continue to work together and support each other.
Father Ioannis representing Archbishop Chrysostomos II is the chancellor of the Archbishopric and and Abbot of the Apostolos Barnabas Monastery, currently turned into museum by the Turkish Cypriot community. Imam Mustafa Küçük representing Mufti Atalay is the regional responsible Muslim cleric in Famagusta. The dialogue of the religious leaders of Cyprus is facilitated by the Office of RTCYPP under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden in Nicosia.

RTCYPP News 5.5.17

Salpy Eskidjian, Executive Coordinator of the Office of RTCYPP and Aristos Tsiartas, Head of the Anti-Discrimination Body of the Office of the Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Cyprus will be speaking about religious freedom, religious and cultural dialogue with the journalist Yiannis Xenofondos on Πάμε Ευρώπη – Let’s Go to Europe

A weekly programme, in Greek, about the European Parliament, its programmes and activities, as well as that of different EU Parliamentarians from Cyprus and other member states with the aim to inform and encourage the engagement of civil society. The theme chosen for the month of May is Intercultural Dialogue, Cultural diversity, its challenges and opportunities to European citizens. You can watch the interview on Friday, May 5th at 09:30 on Sigma TV

RTCYPP News 21.4.17

HE Archbishop Khoren of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cyprus received HE Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis, head of the Representation of the Church of Cyprus to the European Union in Brussels, president of the Synodical Committee on Monument and Christian Art and Assistant Bishop of HB Archbishop Chrysostomos II for a bilateral meeting organized by the Office of RTCYPP. HE Bishop Porfyrios warmly welcomed HE Archbishop Khoren to Cyprus. The two religious leaders had the opportunity to discuss issues of common concern and reflect together urgent matters on the table of dialogue of the religious leaders. Bishop Porfyrios was accompanied by Father Savvas Hadjionas. The meeting took place at the Armenian Prelature in Nicosia and was facilitated by the Executive Coordinator of the Office of RTCYPP, Salpy Eskidjian.

RTCYPP News 12.4.17

The Executive Coordinator of the Office of RTCYPP and facilitator of the religious leaders’ dialogue in Cyprus, participated in a fruitful and much needed discussion on women, peace and security organized and hosted by the Ambassador of Sweden, Ms Anna Olsson Vrang and the special representative of the UN Secretary General Ms Elisabeth Spehar.

RTCYPP News 22.3.17

Executive Coordinator of the Office of RTCYPP participated in an inspiring pre-conference workshop on gender equality and peace in Cyprus, titled “Cypriot Women’s Involvement in Political Decisions: Their Achievements and Challenges” invited and organized by the Center for Women’s Studies of the Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) in Famagusta, which preceded a three-day international conference on gender, war & peace.

The workshop looked at past efforts, activities and achievements of Cypriot women on gender equality and peace-building processes. It also highlighted obstacles and challenges in struggles for peace in Cyprus and gave an opportunity for the participants to make suggestions on strategies to overcome the challenges. The results of the workshop discussion will be presented at the 6th International Conference on “Gender, War, Conflict and Peace”, organized by Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU), Center for Women’s Studies, from 23-25 March, 2016. Invited to the workshop were members of the Technical Committee on Gender Equality (TCGE), civil society peace builders, activists and scholars to discuss Cypriot women’s efforts, achievements and struggles for gender equality and peace in Cyprus.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary General & Head of UNFICYP, Ms. Elizabeth Spehar was one of the speakers alongside Ms. Lesley Abdela, a women’s rights and representation expert, Dr. Umut Bozkurt, a member of the Gender Advisory Team (GAT) and the TCGE and assistant professor at EMU, Ms. Magda Zenon, ‎communicator, networker, activist & broadcaster and Ms. Sevgül Uludağ – investigative journalist and peace activist.

In November 2016, the Executive Coordinator had participated in a preparatory workshop in Nicosia, on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Cyprus followed by a conference on “Pathways towards sustainable peace: Building United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 into the Cyprus context” which aimed at developing a national action plan on UNSCR1325 for Cyprus. The workshops expanded on each of the four pillars of UNSCR 1325 and developed a set of good practices to promote women, peace and security agenda as an integral part of the Cyprus peace building process.

Cypriot women continue to face challenges from low public participation, inadequate protection from sexual violence, and lack of funding for women’s organizations. Women have been severely underrepresented in decision-making roles during the peace process between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Cyprus has ratified UNSCR 1325 but does not yet have a National Action Plan for its implementation for the entire island. GAT together with PRIO in 2012 published GAT’s recommendations on how to implement UNSCR 1325 in Cyprus. For the first time in Cyprus history, the five main religious leaders of Cyprus, working together under the framework of the RTCYPP, recently adopted a joint statement condemning all forms of violence against women and girls.

With the UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security adopted in 2000, the UN Security Council for the first time publicly acknowledged the role of women not only as victims of conflict but as actors that can bring about change and transform violent conflict. The UNSCR urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all UN peace and security efforts. The resolution is based on four pillars for implementation; prevention, protection, participation, relief and recovery.

RTCYPP News 15.3.17

Delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden in Cyprus

Religious leaders of Cyprus, H.E. Mufti Talip Atalay, Rev. Father Savvas Hadjionas of the Synodical Committee on Monuments and Christian Art, representing H.B. Archbishop Chrysostomos II and Ms. Salpy Eskidjian, Executive Coordinator of the Office of RTCYPP & facilitator of the religious leaders’ dialogue in Cyprus, met with the delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden visiting Cyprus from 13 to 15 March 2017.
The religious leaders reiterated their sincere gratitude to the Government of Sweden for supporting the Office of RTCYPP to initiate and undertake the unprecedented religious leaders’ dialogue for human rights and peace in Cyprus. They acknowledged the fact that before the support and facilitation of the Office of RTCYPP together with the Ambassador of Sweden, the religious leaders of the Christian and Muslim faith communities of Cyprus had never cooperated all together nor met one another. Today thanks to the Swedish initiative the current religious leaders of Cyprus meet regularly, work together, can even speak in one voice and advocate for the right of the other since 2011 without any interruption.
Office of RTCYPP greatly appreciates the precious opportunity provided by the Swedish Ambassador in Nicosia, H.E Anna Olsson Vrang to meet with colleagues from Stockholm and the extensive time the delegation dedicated to the RTCYPP despite their short stay and busy agenda in Cyprus.
The delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden included: Ms. Johanna Strömquist, Head of the Unit for Western Balkans, Turkey and Cyprus at the EU Department, Ms. Wiktoria Dagerås Wittboldt, Deputy Director of the Security Policy Section at the UN Policy Department and Mr. Aleksander Mojsiejuk, the new Desk Officer for Cyprus at the EU Department.

RTCYPP News 14.3.17

The Religious Leaders of Cyprus warmly welcome newly appointed Armenian Archbishop H.E Khoren Toghramadjian to Cyprus and to the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden.
“I am thankful to God for this warm welcome and happy to start my first days in Cyprus together with my spiritual brothers, the esteemed religious leaders of Cyprus, meeting within the context of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the auspices of the Swedish Embassy.” stated Archbishop Khoren. “I sincerely appreciate their welcome and look forward to our cooperation. I am thankful to the Swedish Government for all their support and the Office of RTCYPP for facilitating our dialogue and joint efforts for religious freedom and peace, which we are committed to as a Church”.
H.E. Archbishop Khoren will formally take over his responsibilities as the patriarchal representative of H.H Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church and as the Primate of the Armenian Church of Cyprus, as of 20 March 2017. His first official public appearance in Cyprus was his participation at the release ceremony of the religious leaders’ joint statement condemning violence against women and girls, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, organized and hosted by the Office of RTCYPP, at the Ledra Palace Hotel in the UN controlled Buffer Zone in Nicosia.
The Office of RTCYPP under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden extends its warm welcome to His Eminence and congratulations to the Armenian Church and community in Cyprus.