RTCYPP News 25.11.19

16 Days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
25.11.2019

Today 25 November marks the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, and with that the beginning of the global campaign “16 Days of Activism”, concluding in Human Rights Day 10 December. On these and all other days, the Religious Leaders of Cyprus continue to stand up for women’s rights and the elimination of violence, and reiterate the 2017 Joint Statement Condemning All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls.

 

RTCYPP News 19.11.19

Autumn High-Level Meeting of the Religious Leaders of Cyprus
19 November 2019

Religious leaders gather at the Swedish Residence in Nicosia for a High Level Meeting of the RTCYPP under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden. Ambassador Hagelberg hosted a very constructive lunch meeting, facilitated by Sweden’s Special Envoy on Religion, Peace-building & Conflict, organized by the Office of RTCYPP.

All five leaders of the faith communities of Cyprus were present. HB Archbishop Chrysostomos II was not able to attend the meeting in person due to health reasons. He was represented by HE Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis. HE Archbishop Soueif was out of the country and was represented by Father Khita.

The meeting made decisions regarding sensitive and crucial items on the agenda of the dialogue. The religious leaders reiterated their resolve to meet more often and work more closely. Ambassador Hagelberg welcomed the decisions of the leaders and reassured them of his governments continued support and accompaniment to the RTCYPP.

RTCYPP News 13.11.19

Feast of St Chrysostomos
13.11.19

On the occasion of the feast of St Chrysostomos, also the nameday of the Head of the Greek Orthodox Church Of Cyprus, His Excellency Anders Hagelberg, Ambassador of Sweden is warmly welcomed by His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II to the Holy Liturgy at the Cathedral of St John followed by a private audience at the Synodical Hall of the Archbishopric, where the two had an opportunity to discuss the Religious Track. Ambassador Hagelberg congratulated the Archbishop on his name-day and wished him well. His Beatitude expressed his gratitude to the Swedish government for its sincere and long term support to the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP) which operates under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden since 2009. Ambassador Hagelberg was accompanied by the Executive Director of the Office for RTCYPP. 

 


Photo credit CNA and Office of RTCYPP. 

RTCYPP News 12.11.19

Name Day celebration of Archbishop Chrysostomos II
12.11.19

 

Office of the RTCYPP accompanies the Latin, Armenian Orthodox, Maronite and Greek Evangelical Religious leaders and representatives to evening vespers at the Cathedral of St John at the Archbishopric of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, followed by a gathering to celebrate the feast of St Chrysostomos, Nameday of Archbishop Chrysostomos II.

RTCYPP News 11.11.19

17th Special Pilgrimage to Hala Sultan Tekke

On 11 November 2019, 415 worshippers attended a special pilgrimage to Hala Sultan Tekke on the occasion of Mevlit Kandili (Mawlid al-Nabi), coordinated and overseen by the Office of RTCYPP.

This is one of the three pilgrimages to Hala Sultan Tekke, organised by the Muftiate of Cyprus, taking place annually for Turkish nationals living on the island who otherwise are not able to visit and pray at the most significant mosque in Cyprus.

The three special pilgrimages are part of an unprecedented agreement reached between Archbishop Chrysostomos II and Mufti Talip Atalay in 2014 within the framework of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP) and supported by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus.

The crossings are facilitated by the UN and Cyprus Police forces in cooperation with UNFICYP Civil Affairs.

RTCYPP News 8.9.19

First Holy Liturgy in Church of Panagia of Lysi since 1974
8 Sep 2019

H.E Bishop Porfyrios Of Neapolis officiated the holy liturgy celebrating the birth of Theotokos, mother of Jesus Christ, at the Church of Panagia of Lysi for the first time ever since 1974.

The Church was packed with a thousand worshippers of all ages. H.E. Bishop Porfyrios expressed the appreciation of the Church Of Cyprus and prayed for all who intervened for today’s church service, in particular, “the Office For the RTCYPP for its continuous support and efforts to advance religious freedom in Cyprus”.

The Church of Panagia of Lysi was built in 1888 by Master builder Yiakoumis from the village of Kontea with heavy influences from the medieval Gothic Cathedrals of St Sophia in Nicosia and St Nicholas in Famagusta.

“It was very emotional to witness one of the priests, a native of Lysi and a valued member of the RTCYPP, assisting the liturgy., said Salpy Eskidjian of the Office for the RTCYPP. Father Savvas was only 12 when he last prayed at this church. After decades he had the opportunity to be part of this historic day in the life of his local community and church as their priest.

The worshippers and clerics expressed their gratitude to all who made this day possible in particular to those who supported and approved their application to pray at their Church on this special occasion. Office for the RTCYPP in its turn extended its appreciation to all who cooperated, facilitated and respected the right to worship.

(Photo credits: Office of Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis and Mr Pavlos Nacouzi)

RTCYPP News 14.8.19

16th Special Pilgrimage to Hala Sultan Tekke

RTCYPP coordinated pilgrimage to HalaSultanTekke with 305 pilgrims took place on 13 August 2019 led by the Mufti of Cyprus Prof. Dr Talip Atalay on the occasion of Eid al-Adha/Qurban Bayram 2019.

Executive Director of the Office of RTCYPP who oversaw the crossings and pilgrimage thanked His Excellency the Mufti for the excellent organization and extended the greetings and best wishes of the Christian religious leaders of Cyprus, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II, His Eminence Archbishop Khoren Doghramadjian, His Excellency Archbishop Youssef Soueif and the Reverend Father Jerzy Kraj.

This was the 16th Special Pilgrimage following an agreement within the framework of the RTCYPP between Archbishop Chrysostomos II and Mufti Atalay in 2014, which takes place three times a year to mark Eid al Fitr/Ramadan Bayram, Eid al Adha/Qurban Bayram and Mawlid al-Nabi/Mevlid. The pilgrimages bring together Turkish nationals, who otherwise can not cross the dividing line, to exercise their right to worship at the most significant mosque in Cyprus.

Office of RTCYPP is grateful for the facilitation provided by UN Police and UNFICYP Civil Affairs as well as the cooperation of the Cyprus Police, Turkish Cypriot police officers, the Department of Antiquities and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus.

RTCYPP News 17.7.19

Press Release by the Swedish Government

17 July 2019

The Government of Sweden issued a press release on the International Religious Freedom Award, which Director of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process Salpy Eskidjian receives from the U.S. State Department on 17 July, 2019, in Washington during the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

The press release is attached below in Swedish, followed by a congratulatory post by Sweden's Minister of Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström, along with a link to an article in Svenska Dagbladet, one of Sweden's major newspapers.

Press release from the Government of Sweden: 
"Pressmeddelande från Utrikesdepartementet

Svenskledd religiös dialog på Cypern prisas

Publicerad

Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud, direktör för den svenskledda religiösa dialogen i Cypern, tilldelas i dag det amerikanska utrikesdepartementets religionsfrihetspris The Secretary’s Inagural International Religous Freedom Award i Washington.

Under snart tio års tid har Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud arbetat med fredsbyggandeinitiativet den religiösa dialogen i Cyperns fredsprocess (The Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process). Initiativet för samman religiösa ledare på ön i syfte att stärka mänskliga rättigheter, fred och försoning. Genom ambassaden i Nicosia är Sverige delaktiga i projektet som till största delen finansieras av utrikesdepartementet.

– Salpy Eskidjian Weideruds outtröttliga arbete för fred och försoning är banbrytande och har väckt uppskattning inte bara i Cypern utan världen över. Hennes insatser för dialog, mänskliga rättigheter och jämställdhet i fredsprocessen är något som regeringen kommer att fortsätta stödja, säger utrikesminister Margot Wallström.

Dialogen har pågått sedan 2009 och lyfts fram av FN:s generalsekreterare och FN:s säkerhetsråd som ett förtroendeskapande initiativ i Cypern. Ett konkret exempel som uppmärksammats är de religiösa ledarnas gemensamma fördömande av våld mot kvinnor och flickor från 2017 som är det första i sitt slag i världen.  

 – Det är en ära att tilldelas denna utmärkelse som ett uppskattat erkännande av Cyperns religiösa ledares gemensamma arbete för fred och försoning med stöd av den svenska regeringen, säger Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud.

Priset, som delas ut för första gången i år, ska ges till personer som visar ett pågående och obevekligt engagemang för främjandet av religionsfrihet. Utdelningsceremonin äger rum i Washington idag.

För mer information om priset och utdelningsceremonin följ länken: International Religious Freedom Award Winners

Ceremonin sänds live på www.state.gov klockan 18:00 lokal tid."

 

Facebook post from FM Margot Wallström:

USA:s utrikesdepartement delar för första gången ut ett religionsfrihetspris ”The Secretary’s Inagural International Religious Freedom Award”. Jag är mycket glad att dela nyheten att fredsmäklaren och direktören för den svenskledda religiösa dialogen i Cypern, Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud, tilldelas detta pris.

Den Religiösa dialogen (The Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process) är ett fredsbyggandeinitiativ som drivs med stöd av den svenska ambassaden i Nicosia och till största del finansieras av medel från UD. Den syftar till att föra samman öns religiösa ledare för mänskliga rättigheter, fred och försoning.

Salpy Eskidjian Weideruds arbete har rönt konkreta framgångar. Som fredsmäklare har hon varit avgörande för att bryta ny mark i fredsprocessen. Ett exempel är de religiösa ledarnas gemensamma fördömande av våld mot kvinnor och flickor, vilket är det första uttalandet av sitt slag i världen. Jag känner stolthet över att Sverige är en del av det viktiga arbete som Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud genomför. Sverige kommer fortsätta att stödja initiativets arbete för dialog, förtroendebyggande och fred.

Priset delas ut av USA:s utrikesdepartement vid en ceremoni i Washington under dagen.

https://www.svd.se/usa-prisar-svenskt-cypriotiskt-fredsprojekt?fbclid=IwAR1JPvJdQ9gYkZZAEEgthu8IBA_Y926cEhWsSZ516IE83byR3fseb6jjN8Q

 

 

RTCYPP News 16.7.19

Director of Office of RTCYPP winner of International Award for Religious Freedom

U.S. State Department announces on 16 July 2019 that Salpy Eskidjian, Executive Director of the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process Cyprus, is one of the winners of the International Award for Religious Freedom.

Press Release from the U.S. State Department:

"On July 17, Secretary Pompeo will host the State Department’s first-ever International Religious Freedom Awards ceremony to honor extraordinary advocates of religious freedom from around the world at 6:00 p.m.

The full biographies of the 2019 awardees can be found here and their names are listed below:

  • Mohamed Yosaif Abdalrahan of Sudan has worked tirelessly to defend the rights of Sudan’s religious minorities, both in his legal casework and through public advocacy.
  • Imam Abubakar Abdullahi of Nigeria selflessly risked his own life to save members of another religious community, who would have likely been killed without his intervention.
  • Ivanir dos Santos of Brazil worked exhaustively to support interfaith dialogue, combat discrimination, and create mechanisms for the protection of vulnerable groups.
  • William and Pascale Warda of Iraq have devoted their lives to advancing religious freedom and other human rights causes in Iraq.
  • Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud of Cyprus has fully committed herself to working with religious leaders, faith-based organizations, and religious communities on a broad range of issues, including religious freedom. She is also one of the architects and facilitators of an unprecedented peacebuilding initiative in Cyprus known as the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden based in Nicosia, Cyprus.

This event will be livestreamed on www.state.gov and a press pool will cover the event.

We invite you to use #IRFAwards to follow along with conversations on this year’s awards and #IRFMinisterial for discussions on the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. For press inquiries, please contact IRFMinisterialPress@state.gov."

 

 

 

RTCYPP News 28.6.19

RTCYPP Language Classes Conclude its Fourth Successful Semester

27 June 2019

RTCYPP Language Classes concluded it’s fourth successful semester and welcomed Ambassador of Sweden, Mrs Anna Olsson Vrang, who honoured the unprecedented initiative with her presence and handed certificates to the participants of the 2018-2019 term.

The RTCYPP Language Classes are one of the most practical peacebuilding initiative and long term investment that gives me hope. I thank each one of you for being here”, Ambassador Olsson Vrang told the participants. “Learning each other’s language is a concrete way to contribute to further nurture mutual respect between the different faith communities of Cyprus and build trust through knowledge as well as interpersonal encounters.”

The Office of RTCYPP initiated the RTCYPP Language Classes in 2017 as a concrete confidence building measure with the approval, full support and blessings of the Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders of Cyprus. For the very first time clerics and laypersons from the mainline religious communities of Cyprus jointly started learning each other’s language.

Organized and hosted by the Office of RTCYPP, classes for Greek and Turkish took place weekly in adjacent rooms at the Home for Cooperation giving the participants a unique opportunity to come together to meet, interact, learn and practise each other’s languages in a friendly environment.   During this time, 25 clerics, laypersons, and nuns from five faith communities endorsed by their respective religious leader, have participated in the course learning either Greek or Turkish. The joint classes and excursions offered a unique opportunity for all to practise their newly learned skills with each other, enter a positive cycle of increased understanding and trust-building through getting to know each other better, and learn about each other’s traditions and cultures more closely.

Learning and speaking each other’s language is one of the most significant steps toward a unified peaceful coexistence in a divided island where members of the two main communities do not know and speak each other’s language”, said the Director of the Office of RTCYPP Mrs Salpy Eskidjian. “We hope that the members of faith communities learning each others language can be role models in Cyprus, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.”

The course participants thanked the Office of RTCYPP for this opportunity and the Ambassador of Sweden for all her support. All the participants echoed one another with the same heart-warming message.  We thank you for providing us with this opportunity, not only to learn each other’s language but to have built friendships on a level we did not expect. We have become a family! We do not come here only as students to learn, we come here to see our family.” The Language Classes are part of the RTCYPP #KnowYourNeighbour initiative and fully funded by the Office of RTCYPP. The current academic term there were 3 priests, 3 imams and 4 laypersons enrolled.

 

Joint initiatives of the RTCYPP Language Classes during 2018-2019 Term:

The participants helped the Office of RTCYPP to organise four joint excursions to different places of worship, including historic monuments like St John’s Cathedral at the Archbishopric of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, Bayrakdar Mosque and the St Maroun Chapel and the newly refurbished Betmoroun socio-cultural and pastoral Centre of the Maronite Church of Cyprus. During Ramadan, the RTCYPP Language Course team were welcomed to Hala Sultan Tekke for an Iftar.  Together with the Home for Cooperation, two soap-making workshops in three languages were offered to participants from across the island. Participants also enjoyed a visit to the Centre of Visual Arts and Research (CVAR) – the only bi-communal museum in Cyprus – where they were given a personal tour by its founder and Director and appreciated the Swedish Embassy’s photo exhibition “Swedish Dads”.