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Archbishop ‘not afraid of dying’, thinks Trump can help solve Cyprob

Archbishop Chrysostomos

Archbishop Chrysostomos said he was not bothered by those who were preparing to succeed him after word got out he was recently diagnosed with cancer ,and that he was not afraid of dying.

Such individuals, the Church Primate said, were “petty”.

He also said that only someone like US President, Donald Trump, could help bring a solution to the Cyprus problem.

The archbishop revealed in an interview with Phileleftheros online, published in two parts on Saturday and Sunday, that he was recently diagnosed with liver cancer and that he is to travel to the UK next week to have two tumours removed.

He said when he found out about it, he was not upset. “I accepted it, I have a certain age, I am not a child anymore. I was fully prepared. I believe that what I wanted to offer, I have, with much love,” the archbishop said, adding he was not afraid of dying.

Death is inevitable, he said, and one must make peace with it.

“If I departed, I would have been satisfied because I have done my duty in full,” he said.

The archbishop also said that this diagnosis has made him more diligent with matters concerning the Church, as in the past, he used to overlook things. “If I suddenly depart, I must not leave behind pending issues in the Church. My successor should not have to find problems like the ones I had found. I want everything to be in order.”

He also urged cancer patients not be afraid of the disease.

“It is a curable disease. Keep believing in God, stay strong and free and don’t think about it. God loves us all. We belong to God, dead or alive. We must not fear,” he said.

He acknowledged that many people cannot afford to travel abroad for treatment like him and said that he urged President, Nicos Anastasiades many times, to act promptly for the implementation of the National Health Scheme (Gesy).

“I have told him the Gesy should be done. And you have to make great efforts,” he said, adding that he reminded him that he too, had travelled abroad for treatment when he had health problems. He said he pointed out to Anastasiades that the poor however, have no such option. The church, he said, doesn’t turn down those seeking help concerning health matters. “We help everyone.”

On those already eyeing his throne, he said, that they were “petty.”

“It is natural that I will depart sometime, it is not my place to tell, but when you hear that some are starting to brace themselves it saddens me because they are petty and it is not a good thing for one to remain petty. But I am not bothered by this. I tell myself ‘let them be.”

On the Cyprus problem, the archbishop said that he never believed that a settlement solution could be achieved through talks. The problem will be solved, he said, if a super power like the US, puts pressure on Turkey to withdraw its troops from the island. Otherwise, he said, “we cannot kick them out.”

“ I keep telling any ambassador who has come to my office since the day I have taken up this post that all this malady on the Cyprus issue was due to (former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash ‘s sick philosophy to make a Turkish Cypriot state in Cyprus. He did, but a pseudo-state. This was the unfortunate mistake and we and the Turkish Cypriots have suffered too much,” he said.

He added that since then, half of Turkish Cypriots left the island and Turkey has brought over 300,000 settlers from Anatolia. “They are waiting to outnumber us and one day they will ask for a referendum and (say)‘whatever the majority says’”.

“I never thought there would be a solution to the Cyprus problem because the Turks and the overwhelming majority of Turkish Cypriots wanted a Turkish state in Cyprus, unfortunately.”

He said that only Trump could succeed in resolving this matter, as he was able to ease tension with North Korea.

“He is a technocrat, he is not a politician, he acts on his words,” the archbishop said.

It is for that that reason, he said, that he has advised Anastasiades to “properly inform” Trump on the Cyprus issue. “At least, if he decides to solve it to have a clear picture in order to properly solve it to be functional. Because if the solution is not a functional one, then we are back to square one,” he said.

Talking also business, he said, that he did not close down the church-owned Mega TV  – now TVOne – despite the fact it was a money pit.

“God knows how much money the archbishopric had put into it. But I couldn’t close it down, 100 people would lose their jobs,” he said, adding that the employees would also demand severance pay and he would have a protest in his hands.

“I could see where this was headed,” he said.

He added that,  although he usually closes down other church-owned businesses if they are operating at a loss, he decided to keep the television channel and find someone willing to buy it for the sake of the employees.

Last June, former interior minister, Socratis Hasikos, took over the management of the television station.

The archbishop said that he had three offers and Hasikos’ was the best. He said he asked him not to lay off the existing employees but that the businessman told him he would keep them only if they were doing their job properly.

“I told him I was in agreement. I too used to lay off some and hire others,” the archbishop said, adding however, that he had been very flexible in such matters because he was seeing them as persons “and their qualities and we were trying to compromise.”

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