RTCYPP News 16.02.21

Please take a look at the video made by the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions for Human Rights (ODIHR) launched to deepen understanding of the Freedom or Religion or Belief (FoRB).

The Office of Democratic Institutions for Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE and the Office of RTCYPP have been working closely together since 2017 when ODIHR partners listened to a presentation by the Director of the Office of RTCYPP in the Rabat-plus10 Conference in Morocco.

The cooperation with OSCE-ODIHR will continue in 2021, especially since Sweden has taken over chairmanship of the OSCE as of January 2021. We are deeply honoured to be working together with OSCE ODIHR partners and to be under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden in Cyprus!

Video Credits @OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions for Human Rights (ODIHR)

RTCYPP News 11.02.21

RTCYPP News 11.02.21

On the occasion of the feast of St Vartan, the Religious Leaders of Cyprus and the RTCYPP facilitation team send a message of congratulations and their best wishes to H.E. Archbishop Khoren of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cyprus on the occasion of his Nameday.
(RTCYPP photo archives 2019-2020)

RTCYPP News 7.12.2021

We strongly condemn the misuse of the Church of Archangelos Michael this weekend by the village’s Municipality, EVQAF Foundation and EVQAF Goodness Volunteers organization without the consent of the respective religious leadership.

While the cause and intention of the bazaar is a positive one, the organizers ignored that they were misusing a place of worship of another and disrespecting a faith community.

On 6 December 2020, a bazaar of homemade products took place in the Archangelos Michael Church in the village of Lefkoniko, known as Geçitkale in Turkish.

The Church was renovated in 2017 by the UNDP-PFF on behalf of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage with EU funds.

The event at Archangelos Michael is the first of a series of bazaars organized by the EVQAF Foundation and Volunteers Association, announced by the former on December 1 on their Facebook page, stating they will be taking place on the first Saturday of every month organized with the consent of the EVQAF General Director Dr Ibrahim Benter.  We ask the custodian and organizers to stop using places of worship  without the consent  and approval of the religious leadership for such activities.


RTCYPP News 4.12.20

RTCYPP News 4.12.20

RTCYPP facilitation team meets with Turkish Cypriot Community Leader

Executive Director of the Office of RTCYPP Ms Salpy Eskidjian and Sweden’s Special Advisor on Religion, Peace & Conflict , Mr Peter Weiderud joined Ambassador of Sweden H.E. Mr Anders Hagelberg in a meeting this morning with the new Turkish Cypriot community leader, H.E Mr Ersin Tatar.

“We very much appreciated the opportunity to meet with the new Turkish Cypriot community leader and grateful for the friendly and frank conversation”, said the Director of the Office of RTCYPP. “We look forward to working together with His Excellency, the religious leadership of the island as well as other representatives of faith communities to ensure the full respect of religious freedom or belief in the island”.


Press Release: Webinar on Violence Against Women & Girls, Freedom of Religion or Belief & Gender Equality

Press Release

Webinar on Violence Against Women & Girls, Freedom of Religion or Belief & Gender Equality

23 November 2020

Two of the world’s top experts on freedom of religion or belief, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and Dr Nazila Ghanea, Director of International Human Rights Law Programmes of the University of Oxford, will address a webinar, this morning at 11.00 Cyprus time, organized and hosted by the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP), in cooperation with the Office Democratic Institutions & Human Rights of the OSCE (ODIHR/OSCE).

For the first time, the closed webinar will bring together a selection of Cypriot women from faith-based communities and secular civil society organizations that have worked with the RTCYPP during the last ten years.

The discussion aims to initiate a reflection process to understand better and clarify the relationship between freedom of religion or belief and gender equality, held within the framework of the UN OHCHR’s Faith for Rights initiative which RTCYPP supports.

This initiative follows on the historic 2017 Joint Statement of the Religious Leaders of Cyprus condemning all forms of violence against women and girls and marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, starting on the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women and ending on the International Human Rights Day.




RTCYPP News 2.10.2020

RTCYPP News 2.10.2020

Ten years of peacebuilding efforts later, the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP) has brought about significant changes for religious freedom on the island through dialogue & cooperation.
The religious leaders of Cyprus who lead the RTCYPP, their respective clerical order and members of the faith communities, both young and old, have started to work together in ways like never before in the modern history of Cyprus.
To mark our ten-year anniversary, Office of RTCYPP will be highlighting some of those places where we have made a positive difference, celebrating the achievements of the RTCYPP & inspiring others to join in to ensure the full respect of religious freedom for everyone, everywhere.
First in our series for this month, we have the privilege to introduce the clerics responsible for two of the most significant religious monuments and places of worship in Cyprus - Hala Sultan Tekke and the Monastery of Apostolos Barnabas.
Stay tuned for more.

International Peace Day 2020

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the UN General Assembly (A/RES/36/67) to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples. Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted (A/RES/55/282) to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire.The United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace. The theme of this year’s International Day of Peace is “Shaping Peace Together.” To celebrate the day, the world is invited to: spread compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic; and stand together against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred.
International #PeaceDay 2020 #RTCYPP #10Years - #BuildingBridges #10YearsDialogue4Peace #Standup4ReligiousFreedom


RTCYPP Press Release 16 June 2020

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Ann Linde Meets with the five Religious Leaders of Cyprus

 16 June 2020

H.E. Ann Linde, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, marked the 10 Year Anniversary of the RTCYPP by meeting with the Religious Leaders of Cyprus. The event was hosted by the Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Anders Hagelberg, and moderated by Sweden’s Special Envoy on Religion in Conflict and Peacebuilding.

Minister A. Linde congratulated the religious leaders of Cyprus for being the first in Cyprus to work together uninterrupted for human rights and peace, despite politics and real challenges.

“By coming together you have shown a different path. You meet regularly despite the political climate, you coordinate your responses. And you courageously stand up for the rights and each other’s needs. You have shown that religion can unite instead of divide.

You have shown that Cyprus should represent a mosaic of both Christian and Muslim culture across the island. You have shown that peace, healing and forgiveness is not just a dream. It is actually possible.”

On this occasion, Minister Linde asked Ambassador Hagelberg to hand over, in the name of His Majesty the King, the Royal Order of the Polar Star awarded to the Director of the Office of the Religious Track, Ms. Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud. Salpy is the one of the few Cypriots to receive this rare Swedish order, awarded to foreigners who have done extraordinary efforts for Sweden.

The motivation stated that, “Salpy has given Sweden visibility in the Cyprus peace process, a role as political actor and promoted Sweden and Swedish culture. She has put Sweden in the limelight, while standing discreetly behind. Her disinterested emphasis of Sweden as an actor for peace in Cyprus has substantially widened and deepened our bilateral relation on several levels, including on the highest political one.”

The Religious Leaders welcomed the meeting, thanked the Minister for the support of the Swedish government, and congratulated the RTCYPP Director for the award. In turn, they expressed their commitment to continue and build on the genuine cooperation they have had with the Embassy of Sweden and develop stronger and new ties with the Minister herself, as well as with her Ministry.

“The last ten years we have shown our strong will and commitment to work together to restore religious freedom in Cyprus. Religion is not the problem or the cause of the Cyprus conflict. Religious freedom is one of its victims”, said Archbishop Chrysostomos II of the Church of Cyprus. “It is the responsibility of the political leaders to solve this problem”.

“Despite the challenges and negative reactions, we reiterate whenever and wherever we can that places of worship have to be respected as such and be used for the purpose they were intended to”, said Mufti of Cyprus.

Without the right to access, to freely care for, administer and pray at our places of worship the wounds of separation will only get worse.  We are committed not to allow that to happen”, said Archbishop Khoren of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

“Healing the memories of the past, purifying them and to work on reconciliation between divided communities is our mission and nothing will stop us from doing what is most natural for us”, said Archbishop Soueif of the Maronite Church of Cyprus.

“We know the power and impact of forgiveness on healing and transformation”, said the Latin Patriarchal Vicar Reverend Jerzy Kraj. “Peacemakers become a channel of God's grace to others. When we pray for those who have offended us, it frees us to love as God loves. God's grace has power not only to change us, but also those who have hurt us.”

“I am honored to serve the cause of human rights and peace with the country I adopted because of your values I deeply cherish”, said Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud on receiving the award. “I thank you for trusting me and for believing in me to help Cyprus in a way I would never be able to if it were not for Sweden and the Religious Leaders of Cyprus.”

The meeting took place at the Home for Cooperation in the UN controlled Buffer Zone where the Religious Leaders present could be connected to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Muftiate of Cyprus electronically.

RTCYPP News 11.06.2020

As a gesture of goodwill, an expression of respect, Turkish Cypriot Muslims prayed at the Tomb of Apostle Barnabas. This year members of the Church of Cyprus ( Greek Orthodox) were not able to visit Saint Barnabas Monastery to pay their respects at the Tomb of the Apostle and pray at the Main Cathedral odue to the restrictions of movement in place for COVID 19 dividing the island into two parts.

"For us Apostle Barnabas is one of the holiest persons in Cyprus. As a close companion to Jesus he is a considered a very important saint in Islam. We pray for him not only today but always."Shakir Alemdar, Imam of Hala Sultan Tekke and Mufti of Larnaca, who expressed his regrets that Christians were not able to visit and pray at the Tomb of the saint this year.

Background Information:
On 11 June Christianity marks the feast of APOSTLE BARNABAS, venerated as the Patron Saint of Cyprus, founder of the autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, a prominent Christian disciple, born in Cyprus.
On this occasion, annual prayer services and pilgrimages are held on June 10-11 at the Cathedral and at the Tomb of St Barnabas in Salamis, in the Famagusta region of Cyprus.
The Saint Barnabas Monastery consists of the Cathedral of Saint Barnabas and a small chapel housing the remains of the Saint. As a result of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP) under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden and their 2014 agreement, for the first time since 1974 permission was secured for monthly worship services at the chapel over the Tomb of St Barnabas and every other month at the Main Cathedral including pilgrimages on June 10 and 11, to celebrate the feast of St Barnabas