Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Cyprus Talks

Look to the future, envoy says

Eide with Turkish Cypriot mufti Talip Atalay (l) and Archbishop Chrysostomos II (r)

By Stefanos Evripidou

UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide yesterday hailed the “incredibly important role” religious leaders on the island could play in working with their respective communities and inspiring political leaders to think about the opportunities for all of a Cyprus problem solution.

Speaking after a lunch with the island’s religious leaders, hosted by Swedish Ambassador to Nicosia Klas Gierow, Eide said he had “a very good and very inspiring meeting with all the religious leaders” who reconfirmed their strong support for working towards the reunification of Cyprus and the search for “constructive solutions”.

He stressed the need to look ahead.

“There is a lot of past, a lot of history, there are many grievances that are remembered but there is little to do about the past. What you can you do is something for the future and you can actually inspire, sense the future,” said the UN envoy.

“And we think is a particularly important moment to move forward both because of the dramatic consequences of the continued non-solution, the so-called status quo which could be easily undermined but also because of all the positive opportunities that reunification will give,” he added.

Eide said all the religious leaders were adamant that religious differences should not be exploited for political purposes since all the religions represented at the lunch focused on the belief in humanity, human rights, tolerance and living together.

“That is a very important message to anybody who would like to use religion for political purposes,” said the Norwegian.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II said after the lunch that they conveyed to the Special Adviser that “we cooperate fully for the peaceful coexistence of our people and we have made it clear that the Cyprus problem is not religious. Never in Cyprus did we have a religious problem”.

The primate highlighted the recent fruitful cooperation between himself and Turkish Cypriot mufti Talip Atalay on religious matters.

For his part Atalay said all religious leaders agreed religion is not part of the problem in Cyprus, and that religion could lead the way towards teaching the politicians how to manage peace and how to co-exist, “as we lived in the past for many centuries”.

Atalay, speaking through an interpreter, also thanked Chrysostomos for the recent transfer of Muslims to the Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca.

The lunch was attended by Chrysostomos, Atalay, Armenian Archbishop Varoujan Hergelian, a representative of Maronite Archbishop Yussef Sweif who is abroad and the Latin Patriarchal Vicar Reverend George Kraj.

The Swedish Embassy in Nicosia has quietly been promoting interfaith dialogue in Cyprus in recent years, resulting in greater cooperation between religious representatives on the island to facilitate freedom of religious worship throughout the island.

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