Religious leaders support dialogue in Cyprus

Religious leaders support dialogue in Cyprus

The WCC expresses support of the religious track of the Cyprus peace process

The Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), has expressed support of the religious track of the Cyprus peace process.

The Cyprus peace process, initiated with support from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the Embassy of Sweden in Cyprus, is committed to promoting religious freedom and dialogue.

“The root causes of the political conflict in Cyprus are not religious. Nonetheless, religion has fallen victim to this conflict,” Tveit said in his message to the Church of Cyprus and the permanent mission of Cyprus to the United Nations on 19 March.

“The inter-religious dialogue for human rights, peace and reconciliation is a historic peace-building effort in Cyprus, since it has initiated and brought together the religious leaders of the island for an engaged and honest dialogue,” said Tveit.

He appreciated how heads of three main Christian communities of the island, led by Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus, are meeting with the mufti of Cyprus discussing peace, human rights and religious freedom.

“It is our strong belief that religious leaders have a responsibility but also a unique role to play in the peace process and we hope that the Government of Cyprus will support and encourage efforts like the religious track,” added Tveit.

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, during the presentation of his report (A/HRC/22/51) to the UN Human Rights Council, on Tuesday 5 March, made a reference to the meeting of the church leaders in Cyprus.

While participating in an open dialogue between the UN Special Rapporteur and civil society, the WCC programme executive for human rights and global advocacy, Christina Papazoglou, said, “The religious track is an important process, but it is quite fragile at the moment, so there is a need for further support both at the national and the international level, in order for it to bear fruit.” The Special Rapporteur assured a follow-up on this issue.

Click here to read the WCC general secretary’s letter.