Press Release 20.3.2020

Religious Leaders of Cyprus Join their Voices and Prayers Against the Coronavirus Pandemic


Faced with such trials as the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), when there is global fear and confusion, the Religious Leaders of the main faith communities of Cyprus H.B Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus, H.E Talip Atalay, Mufti of Cyprus, H.E Archbishop Khoren of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church of Cyprus, H.E Archbishop Youssef Soueif of the Maronite Church of Cyprus and Reverend Father Jerzy Kraj, the Latin Patriarchal Vicar of Cyprus, who form the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP) join their voices and prayers to the Almighty to help the world overcome this crisis, protect everyone and heal the sick.

During this unprecedented period, the Religious Leaders of Cyprus call everyone to pray fervently, act compassionately and remain in solidarity with each other especially with the most vulnerable among us.

Special prayers are called for all who have been afflicted or recovering from this illness and everyone who is caring for the sick so that God may grant them the grace of His healing. In particular, they call for prayers for the sick, the victims who passed away due to this virus and uplift all doctors, nurses, medical, paramedical personnel and all caregivers who are struggling daily to confront the consequences of this virus.

They call on all other religious and faith community leaders in Cyprus and all sisters and brothers of faith to join them in prayer and action to fight this pandemic together. They jointly urge all faith communities to strictly follow the advice and directives issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and state health authorities, remain responsible and hopeful without succumbing to fear and panic.

They call on their faithful to pay very serious attention to the separate detailed directives and measures announced by each one of them and stay updated. They invite everyone to stay correctly informed and face this crisis with faith, caution, wisdom and collective responsibility so as to help curb its spread.

The Religious Leaders of Cyprus assure everyone that they will continue to pray for everyone and invite their respective faith communities to join them in prayer to strengthen their faith in God the Almighty during this difficult time.

RTCYPP News 06.03.20

On 6 March, women and men came together for a one-hour strike in the Buffer Zone, as a protest against gender inequality in Cyprus, under the banner “The Time is Now” for human rights & equality.
As part of the Home for Cooperation family, the Office of RTCYPP joined the 1-hour strike protesting against women’s inequality in Cyprus, violence against women and girls, gender stereotypes and sexism and called for gender equality in power, decision-making and the workplace as well as legal reform to end inequality and discrimination for all women in Cyprus.

RTCYPP News 25.02.20

Heartwarming visit to Köprülü Mosque and local Turkish Cypriot community members of Limassol with Mufti of Cyprus at the invitation of the head of the local association.
Since the intervention of the Office of RTCYPP four years ago, the Köprülü Mosque in the Ayios Antonios neighbourhood in Limassol is one of the positive examples of good and respectful cooperation of all stakeholders involved, including the current custodian, the local community association and the Muftiate Of Cyprus, advancing religious freedom. Weekly prayers take place with a visiting Imam authorised by the Mufti of Cyprus, while members of the local community association undertake the daily care of the mosque under the authorisation of the Muftiate as well as the cooperation of the current custodian.

RTCYPP News 21.02.20

Executive Director of the Office of the Religious Track welcomed Norway’s foreign minister, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide to the Office of RTCYPP and shared some highlights, achievements and challenges of the RTCYPP during the minister’s visit to the Home for Cooperation and a delicious lunch at the Home Cafe.

RTCYPP News: February 2020

RTCYPP News: February 2020

Religious Leaders of Cyprus meet with the Representative of UNHCR Cyprus and discuss the status of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants

During their first RTCYPP High Level Meeting of the year, the Religious Leaders of Cyprus welcomed a detailed briefing by Ms Katja Saha, Representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) – Cyprus and listened to the current challenges.

Together with the UNHCR Representative, the religious leaders discussed the situation of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in Cyprus.  They listened to the challenges faced and reflected together on the role of religious leaders to meet the spiritual and religious needs of the migrants, refugees and asylum seekers; to raise awareness about the plight of refugees, and ensure that they are welcomed by members of the respective faith communities by educating against xenophobia and assist in their integration into society.

“Welcoming the stranger, honoring the dignity of every person regardless of their faith and treating them with respect are values common to major religions and religious traditions. Religious leaders in Cyprus can play an important role in promoting acceptance and respect and empowering refugees to become part of an inclusive society” stated Ms Saha.

Religious Leaders thanked UNHCR Cyprus for all its efforts for the uprooted and reiterated their joint commitment to advocate for inclusion, understanding and support for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers as they had jointly stated on World Refugee Day 2018

The High Level meeting and briefing session were hosted by Ambassador Hagelberg and moderated by Sweden’s Special Envoy on Religion, Peace-building & Conflict, Peter Weiderud.  It took place at the Swedish Residence in Nicosia and was organized and facilitated by the Office of RTCYPP.

Joint Communique by the Religious Leaders of Cyprus on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the RTCYPP

Joint Communique by the Religious Leaders of Cyprus on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the RTCYPP

On 14 February 2020, the five Religious Leaders of Cyprus came together and adopted the Joint Communique on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP) under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden. The Religious Leaders commit themselves to continue to build a culture of peace and trust, always defending and promoting human dignity and reiterate their conviction to work together to uphold and advance the fundamental freedom of religion for all.

"Ten years ago, after decades of separation, we, the religious leaders of Cyprus, came together for the first time in the history of Cyprus.  We started to listen to one another, to work together and to support each other to improve the situation for freedom of religion or belief in Cyprus and together contribute to healing and reconciliation of our communities.

We are convinced that if we want to go far, we need to walk the long road ahead of us together as people of faith and as religious leaders.

We give thanks to the Government of Sweden for its steadfast support to the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP) and the Embassy of Sweden in Cyprus for its Auspices.

We reiterate our strong conviction to continue to work together to uphold and advance the fundamental freedom of religion for all. We know full well that only with real courage we will be able to stay together to seek truth, purify memories and restore basic human rights. In particular we will continue to advocate and work together for our right to access, administer, protect and restore our own religious monuments in Cyprus and stand up for the right to worship, which has been denied, controlled or violated for far too long.

With God’s grace and blessing we will continue to support each other and stand united to contribute to building trust between our communities, restore broken relationships, heal the wounds of the past and sow the seeds of reconciliation in Cyprus.

To mark the tenth anniversary of our peacebuilding efforts, we call on:

All Cypriots to join us in our efforts to protect the religious heritage of Cyprus and advance freedom of religion for all;

The political leadership of Cyprus to have the courage to increase their support to our unprecedented joint gesture for peace, as well as our common request to ensure unhindered freedom of worship, religion and belief in Cyprus; and

The international community to support our joint messages for human rights and continue to acknowledge the role of the religious leaders of Cyprus in peacebuilding.

We, the Religious Leaders will continue to pray for Cyprus and for each other. We invite our respective communities to join us in prayer to strengthen our faith in God the Almighty and commit ourselves to building a culture of peace and trust, always defending and promoting human dignity."

RTCYPP News 14.02.20

On 14 February 2020, the religious leaders of the main faith communities of Cyprus, 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 came together to visit His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II.

The religious leaders, who have been praying for His Beatitude’s health, wished him a speedy recovery from his recent operation and reiterated their commitment to stand together and support each other.

During this meeting they adopted the Joint Communique on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Religious Track and committed themselves to continue to work towards building a culture of peace and trust, always defending and promoting human dignity. Furthermore, they reiterated their conviction to work together to uphold and advance the fundamental freedom of religion for all.

Details of activities to mark the 10th Anniversary will be announced and coordinated by the Office of RTCYPP.


RTCYPP News 04.02.20

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Nelson Mandela

Office of RTCYPP organised study visits in the old town of divided Nicosia for priests, Imams & lay leaders from faith communities of Cyprus, learning each other’s language. During the study trip clerics learning Turkish, visited the northern part of Nicosia while the ones learning Greek visited the southern part, practising what they have learnt in class with the respective local community. Their outreach set a unique example of bridge building while breaking stereotypes and strengthening friendships.
Led by their teachers the students chose to practise their skills together in real-life settings. The Greek class group walked around the heart of the city on the thoroughfare 19th Century Ermou Street, completing small missions and tasks while practising giving directions, ordering refreshments and listening to the stories of shopkeepers and restaurant owners. The promenade took the group around the old town, passing through familiar neighbourhoods and discovering new corners including the traditional cafés of Ledra Street.
The Turkish class group went on an excursion along with their teacher to the old town around the Selimye Quarter where they walked through streets around the neighbourhood and visited the historic closed municipal market: “Bandabulya” and the 16th Century Ottoman Great Inn- Buyuk Khan, where the students ordered refreshments in Turkish and had an opportunity to talk to local merchants, shopkeepers and locals.
RTCYPP has been organising Greek and Turkish language courses for priests, imams and lay leaders in the faith communities of Cyprus since 2017 in an effort to build bridges between the faith communities of the island. The Language Classes are endorsed by the religious leaders of Cyprus who have been in dialogue and working together for the last ten years, under Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden.

2019 Christmas & New Year Message from the Mufti of Cyprus

2019 Christmas & New Year Message from the Mufti of Cyprus

As the Mufti of Cyprus, I would like to convey our Christmas Greetings to the Religious Leaders of Cyprus and all the faith communities celebrating. I pray for healing of the wounds of our island and our peoples. May the New Year be blessed and bring an end to the suffering of all regardless of their ethnic origin and faith.
Let us pray for an end to all conflicts, violence and wars, poverty, hunger and sickness.
Let us all commit to work with one another with renewed conviction for a just and peaceful world where everyone can coexist in safety based on the values of mercy, compassion and forgiveness derived from our religious teachings.
Prof. Dr. Talip Atalay
Mufti of Cyprus

RTCYPP News 2.12.19

RTCYPP News 02.12.19

Sweden’s EU Minister Mr. Hans Dahlgren Visits Office Of RTCYPP

29 November 2019

On 29 November 2019, RTCYPP Exceutive Director, Salpy Eskidjian was honoured and privileged to meet with the EU Minister of Sweden Mr. Hans Dahlgren who was visiting Cyprus for EU consultations.

Minister Dahlgren was accompanied by the Ambassador of Sweden Mr. Anders Hagelberg, Deputy Director of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Per Hallström, and Political Adviser to the Minister Mr. Kristoffer Strömgren.

Salpy Eskidjian warmly welcomed Minister Dahlgren and thanked him for his interest and apprection of the RTCYPP. She extended the greetings and gratitude of the Religious Leaders of Cyprus to the Swedish Government for the longstanding support to a unique human rights based peacebuilding initiative and for the excellent cooperation with the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting took place at the Office of RTCYPP based at the Home for Cooperation in the UN Controlled Buffer Zone, Nicosia.