Delegation from Cyprus meets with State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Sweden in Almedalen
Representatives of the religious leaders of Cyprus met with the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Annika Söder, during the annual political week of Sweden, known as, Almedalen, in Visby. The State Secretary thanked the religious leaders of Cyprus for their continued dialogue to restore trust, contribute to the peace process and the ongoing efforts to reunify the country.
“It is rewarding to present the work we are doing with the religious track (RTCYPP) which is there to create the long-term foundations for peacebuilding”, said the State Secretary. “Peace and reconciliation will come from the grassroots level and we hope you will continue to play a key positive role in this regard.”
The Archbishopric of the Church of Cyprus, was represented by Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis, the head of the Church’s representation to the European Institutions, and the Muftiate of Cyprus by Imam Shakir Alemdar of Hala Sultan Tekke.
In thanking the State Secretary, Bishop Porfyrios assured her that “the religious leaders of Cyprus will continue to work fervently to support reunification, restore religious freedom and the soul of the people. “
“No matter what, we are not tired, nor scared or in despair, we are patient and confident to walk the straight path we are obliged to do. We will continue to do what is right”, said Imam Shakir Alemdar. “We are grateful to the Government and Church of Sweden for accompanying us.”
At the invitation of the Bishop of Visby, Sven Bernard Fast and the Director of the Swedish Institute in Alexandria, Peter Weiderud, the representatives of the religious leaders together with the Executive Coordinator of the Office of RTCYPP, contributed to a seminar on the role of religion in conflict and peacebuilding highlighting the case of Cyprus. The well-attended seminar also involved representatives from other conflict countries in the MENA Region. “The work of the religious leaders in Cyprus offers us a sign of hope”, said Bishop Fast. “While the Conference on Cyprus is underway in Crans Montana, we are happy to give space to a united voice from Cyprus reiterating their support to dialogue, cooperation and coexistence”, said Peter Weiderud, one of the architects of the RTCYPP.
“A positive sustainable peace process has to be inclusive in every sense of the word. As such it has to acknowledge the importance of human rights, including religious freedom and the need to build solid structures of trust to pave the way for real reconciliation”, said Salpy Eskidjian, head of the Office of RTCYPP. “We are doing our best to contribute in this regard.”
The delegation from Cyprus were invited to attend the formal reception of the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden, Antje Jackelén and Bishop Fast where they publicly thanked them and the Government of Sweden for standing up for human rights, international law and their contribution to peace and reconciliation in Cyprus.