Cyprus’ religious leaders have launched a new joint project aiming to provide an opportunity for clerics and laypersons to meet and learn Greek and Turkish for the very first time in Cyprus.
The project is part of the dialogue between the island’s religious leaders that has been running since 2009 under the coordination of the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP). The dialogue, which is under the auspices of the Embassy of Sweden, is a peacebuilding effort involving religious leaders in Cyprus who committed to work jointly for human rights, peace and reconciliation.
The introductory language course will be offered to 20 priests, imams, nuns and laypersons working for faith-based institutions in Cyprus from the island’s Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Armenian Orthodox, Maronite and Latin Catholic faith communities.
The Greek and Turkish language classes will take place simultaneously on a weekly basis followed by a session, hosted and facilitated by the RTCYPP, where the participants will get the chance to know each other and practice what they have learned.
“Learning and speaking the language of the other respective community is a concrete prerequisite to bridge-building in a divided country,” said Swedish Ambassador Anna Olsson Vrang. “We are pleased that with the help of our moral and financial support, the Office of RTCYPP under the auspices of the Embassy of Sweden could take such an important concrete step despite the current state of affairs in the peace talks in Cyprus.”
“The religious leaders of Cyprus agree that learning to communicate in each other’s mother tongue is of utmost importance in the search for coexistence and peace in a decades-long divided island and fully support this new exciting initiative of the RTCYPP,” said Salpy Eskidjian, executive coordinator of the RTCYPP.
She expressed hope that the language course would soon expand to involve “more priests, imams, nuns as well as lay women and men active in religious institutions or faith communities who believe in dialogue, cooperation and coexistence”.
The pilot project is initiated, organised and funded by the RTCYPP with the full support and endorsement of the religious leaders of Cyprus.
Since 2012, the five religious leaders of Cyprus have agreed to focus on four pillars – getting to know and build trust among the religious leaders and respective faith communities, promoting confidence-building measures, advocating for the right to free access and worship at churches, mosques and monasteries and ensuring the protection of all religious monuments in Cyprus.