Press Release 20.7.16

Archbishop and Mufti of Cyprus hold their last meeting with outgoing Swedish Ambassador

The Religious Leaders of Cyprus met at the Swedish Residence in Nicosia on July 19, 2016 for the last time convened by Swedish Ambassador Klas Gierow, whose term in Cyprus ends this month.

Both Archbishop Chrysostomos II and Mufti Talip Atalay in bidding farewell to the ambassador expressed their sincere appreciation for his contribution in establishing, facilitating and nurturing the relationship of the religious leadersĀ and peacebuilding in Cyprus.

“Your mission in Cyprus has been more successful than you think. If it was not for the Swedish initiative and the support of your Embassy, the Mufti and I would not have met with one another nor developed the trust and relationship we have with one another today.” Said Archbishop Chrysostomos II of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus. “We are grateful for the Swedish government’s and your Embassy’s support to the tireless efforts of the Office of the Religious Track as well as your friendship and personal involvement in it.” Said Dr Talip Atalay, Mufti of Cyprus. “Our togetherness in itself is historic and we owe that to the Swedish initiative”. “As religious leaders you have shown that dialogue and communication is an important element of a healthy society, where human rights and religious freedom are respected. Together you are making a unique and very constructive contribution to peace in Cyprus.” Said Klas Gierow, the outgoing Ambassador of Sweden.

Both religious leaders reiterated that they will continue their efforts for mutual understanding, support confidence building measures and peaceful coexistence in Cyprus.

Ambassador Gierow thanked them for the trust they have shown to him, the Swedish government and the facilitation of RTCYPP.

During the meeting, the religious leaders had a chance to review the results and consequences of the religious track the last seven months and discuss their priorities for coming five months. Both religious leaders reaffirmed their readiness to support the political leaders in their efforts for a comprehensive settlement. “Whatever proposal for a solution, it has to be fair and not at the expense of the other”. Said Archbishop Chrysostomos II “Only a win-win solution where neither community feels like they have lost out will succeed “

Religious freedom as a fundamental human right remains at the core of the religious leaders dialogue for peace- the so called religious track. Leaders agreed to have their next high-level meeting with all religious leaders sometime in early October. The New ambassador of Sweden is scheduled to arrive in September.

Background Note: With the facilitation of the Office of RTCYPP under the auspices of the Swedish Embassy, these two religious leaders met for the first time ever in March 2011 achieving unprecedented steps together for the advancement of religious freedom in Cyprus. In 2012 they agreed to invite religious leaders of the Armenian, Maronite and Latin churches to join them and in 2013 they gave their support to Office of RTCYPP which in close cooperation with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the special rapporteur for religious freedom or belief to initiate the creation of the first ever inter-religious platform for human rights bringing together representatives of all the faith communities of Cyprus as well as members from the non-governmental human rights and peace organizations in Cyprus.


Posted in Press Releases.