Peace talks between religious and political leaders continue in Cyprus

Published 14 September 2015 in:

Embassy of Sweden in Cyprus

For the first time in Cyprus’s history, political and religious leaders gathered on 10 September to discuss the reunification of the island. This historic meeting was organised by the Religious Track under the auspices of the Swedish Embassy.

Negotiations on the reunification of Cyprus resumed on 15 May this year and are currently perceived with greater optimism than for a very long time. The meeting was attended by the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mustafa Akinci, as well as religious leaders H.B. Archbishop Chrysostomos II, H.E. Mufti Talip Atalay, H.E. Archbishop Nareg of the Armenian Church, H.E. Archbishop Soueif of the Maronite Catholic Church and Rev Fr Jerzy Kraj representing the Latin Catholic Church.

Sweden is playing an active role in the peace process and is using various initiatives to help create confidence and cooperation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. After the meeting, Ambassador Klas Gierow praised the peace negotiations and the successful work carried out by the Religious Track.

“The willingness of both political leaders to meet with the religious leaders in Ledra Palace Hotel in the UN-controlled buffer zone today gives great hope, not only for the advancement of the common agenda for freedom of religion and belief, but also for how religion and the dialogue of the religious leaders can better contribute to sustainable peace on the island,” said Peter Weiderud, Director of the Swedish Institute in Alexandria and moderator of the Religious Track.

During the meeting, the religious leaders expressed the wish to have free access for worship and discussed the renovation and restoration of their religious monuments on both sides of the green line. They also emphasized their support for the work of community leaders to reach a negotiated solution. All parties agreed to continue to meet regularly to better understand and support each other. The community leaders expressed their gratitude to the religious leaders for their support and commended their peace-building efforts in Cyprus.

The media showed a great deal of interest in the meeting – more than 50 television and newspaper organisations were present from both sides.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström also commended this historic meeting on Twitter: “Praise to Cypriot leaders’ meeting today hosted by Sweden. Support for UN-led talks – settlement within reach.”