Cyprus can emerge as a model of coupling and peaceful coexistence of people of different religions and cultures, through the resolution of the Cyprus problem, said the President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulidis, welcoming the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy (DSO), at the Presidential Palace on Friday.
Highlighting mutual respect and acceptance of others, regardless of ethnic background or religious beliefs, as an important value of the Orthodox and Christian heritage, President Christodoulidis said that "faith must always be connective and not directed against anyone", adding that "the Orthodox culture can be a unifying force on the one hand, but also a bridging element with other cultures on the other. And this is achieved through your own actions and through the promotion of interreligious dialogue."
Cyprus has always been a rich mixture of people, cultures, ideas, but also religions, the President said, noting that "the Orthodox faith of the majority of Cypriots remained unchanged, but it never turned against people who had or have a different faith".
"Never, in the modern history of the island, has this diversity, and especially the religious part, been a source of tension and a dividing element between the inhabitants of Cyprus. On the contrary, many times it can also function as a refuge for peaceful coexistence, in a spirit of mutual respect for all fundamental human rights and freedoms, including of course religious ones," said the President.
Through the solution of the Cyprus problem, he noted, "which is the top priority of our government, Cyprus can emerge as a model of coupling and peaceful coexistence of people of different religions and cultures. A vision that we hope, even now, will be embraced by Turkey, as well as by the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community."
The President assured the members of the ILO of his absolute commitment to the effort to end the occupation, liberation and reunification of Cyprus through the achievement of a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem. "A solution, of course, that should be based on the relevant United Nations Resolutions and Security Council Decisions and is in line with the principles and values of the European Union, of which Cyprus is a member state and will continue to be after a possible solution to the Cyprus problem", he said.
The main concern, said President Christodoulidis, is a solution which will create an independent and truly sovereign state, free from any anachronistic guarantees, the presence of occupying troops, but also the military presence of any third country".
A solution, he added, "which will ensure and secure human rights by allowing the entire Cypriot people, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians, Latins, in general all legally resident in Cyprus, to coexist peacefully, to co-create through a functioning and sustainable solution".
He noted, however, that a workable and sustainable solution cannot be heterodox. "It cannot give such privileges or powers to one of the two communities in a way that violates the law, violates basic principles and values that are valid or applied in no other country," he stressed.
He congratulated the Assembly for its work, stating that the participation of only MPs from more than 25 countries demonstrates the scope of its action, but also the importance of the influence that the Organization can have worldwide.
"Your contribution is extremely important in terms of the effort carried out through the modern global dialogue on human rights, the peaceful coexistence of peoples and the collective response to other regional and international problems that go beyond the narrow borders of our states," he said.
The President noted that in today's globalized society, the various challenges such as humanitarian crisis, terrorism, hunger and misery, the effects of climate change, war conflicts, fundamentalist, religious and other conflicts in the world and the intensifying refugee and immigrant flows, cross borders and know no ethnicities or races.
"In order to be able to talk about successfully dealing with these collective challenges, common answers are needed today more than ever before", he noted, underlining the importance of parliamentary diplomacy, "especially when this effort is based on common values, such as those advocated by Orthodox faith, that is, of Humanism, Peace, Democracy and Justice, then a promising and optimistic coupling is created," he added.
He thanked the ILO for its constant support of the principles it maintains towards the Republic of Cyprus through the repeated adoption of resolutions and other texts, with which it expresses in various ways its support for the just struggle of Cyprus in general, but also in particular for specific aspects of the Cyprus problem, such as the destruction of our religious and cultural heritage in the occupied territories.
The support of the Cypriot State, the Cypriot House of Representatives, to the efforts and actions of the ILO remains stable, said the President. "A support which begins with the founding participation of the then President of the Republic of Cyprus, the late Glaukos Clerides and continues uninterrupted until today, where it is expressed in practice, mainly with the active and substantial participation of the honorable Cypriot MPs in the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy", he said, assuring that the Republic of Cyprus always remains on the side of the Assembly.
The General Secretary of the DSO, Maximos Harakopoulos and the head of the Cypriot delegation, MP Panikos Leonidou, invited the President of the Republic to the presentation of the volume "Agia Sophia: the temples of God Sophia around the world" which will be presented on Saturday in Limassol, presenting the President with a copy of the volume.
Mr. Harakopoulos, referring to the Cyprus problem, noted that "Ankara, which follows a revisionist policy towards its neighbors, integrated into the ideology of the Neo-Ottomanism, has not shown any willingness to contribute to solving the problem". He expressed the hope of restarting the talks for the solution of the Cyprus problem, based on the UN decisions, "with the more active involvement of the EU", as he said.
"We all look forward to the day when Cyprus will be united, without occupying troops, without the outdated guarantees, with full equality for all citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, which will prosper within the European family," he added.
Referring to the cultural heritage monuments that are at risk in the occupied territories, Mr. Harakopoulos said that "it is an issue that we highlight in our actions", while he also referred to the "unacceptable" decision of Turkey to turn the church of Hagia Sophia into a mosque in Istanbul, an act which the ILO "denounces to the international community", through the relevant volume that will be presented on Saturday, as he said.
Mr. Leonidou made special mention of the presence of the Vice President of the Lebanese Parliament, whose presence through the DSO "gave the possibility to promote Cyprus' relations with Lebanon", after the meeting he held with the President of the Republic on Thursday.
Mr. Leonidou also noted that the Cypriot has a strong presence in the initiatives of the WTO institution. "As Cyprus, for 30 years we have been contributing to the development of this fruitful religious diplomacy in promoting common goals and principles and, of course, highlighting the problem of Cyprus since the invasion and occupation of Turkey." He said that in the context of the ILO meetings, the Cypriot delegation informs about the Cyprus issue and "Turkey's subversive policy, but also the desecration of religious monuments in the occupied territories".