Cyprus Mail
Opinion

Expat View: No regard for non-Orthodox residents

By Clive Turner

The interior ministry keeps brushing aside the crematorium issue

I promised myself that unless and until I had some positive news to impart that I would not write again about my project to get a crematorium for Cyprus. But I rather suspect that unless I continue to push the powers that be, nothing will ever happen on this front.

It took 15 years to get a bill passed for a crematorium here which should mean that we would no longer be the only EU country without one. The next step was to seek a licence to be issued but when this was sought, the entire issue became totally log jammed.

The minister of the interior is responsible for issuing a licence, and when the last but one minister was approached, he completely ignored the letters sent to him and nothing emerged from his office despite a street meeting in Paphos where he promised to handle the matter within a week.

That was in October 2016 and I heard not a word to this day.  His successor, Mr Petrides, was sent correspondence and a reminder that his department had previously committed to addressing the issue but again, the minister of the interior just brushed us aside.

Yes, it was explained to me that there was something wrong with the bill but what that was not made clear – and I would be extremely surprised if there were a problem.  I write that because the translation of the bill which I read revealed an immaculately prepared document in every respect.

It has been suggested that the Archbishop is behind the delay. He has more than once told me that although he will not stand in my way, he will not help me, so that this stance may somehow possibly be inhibiting the ministry, but to be fair I actually don’t think this is the case.

It is true that I reminded the Archbishop that it was several thousand years BC that the Greeks honoured their fallen heroes with cremation – and did he know that?  His answer was evasive but what he did say was “that was then, now is now”.  He also said that were a cremation ever to be permitted in Cyprus he would not allow his priests to officiate. I later told him the Adjutant General remarked that such an edict would probably be illegal, at which our Archbishop commented that “I make my own rules”. How is that for self-aggrandisement?

So, despite a supporter network of over 12,000 people, many of them Greek Cypriots, the moral right of those of non-Greek Orthodox faith to determine their means of disposal is being denied.

There are tens of thousands of people living here who are of different faiths as compared with Greek Orthodox followers.  And surely they deserve to be spared the expense and huge inconvenience of making arrangements to have their bodies conveyed to a country where their cremation wishes can be respected?

I have written to the president about this project but he simply refers it to the ministry of the interior, although he did once have his office write to me to “wish me health and happiness…”

It all smacks of a disinclination to consider the interests of a great many people and I believe it to be completely at odds with the protestation that Cyprus is a true democracy with a forward-looking government which is up to date with modern thinking and behaviour.

Many of our cemeteries are desperately over-crowded, and badly maintained, and there is a genuine need, let alone a wish, for cremation facilities offering a dignified and widely accepted particular means of peace at the end of life.

The lack of response from the ministry of the interior is little short of bad manners, an unwillingness to face perfectly civil correspondence and, frankly, a degree of sheer unkindness towards a large body of people with genuine concerns.

Friends of mine urged me to give up with this project, but having got this far with the bill having been passed and with the knowledge that there are thousands of people in agreement with the notion, I feel it would be a disloyalty to those people to turn my back on the ‘progress’ thus far – despite its apparent shuddering to a halt.

We will get there one day because it is sensible, right, fair, responsible, decent, and needed.

If you agree, write with your view to the ministry of the interior, where the email address is: [email protected] And the minister’s name is Constantinos Petrides.

 

Clive Turner.

[email protected]

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