Secretary General of the United Nations Acknowledges
The Efforts of the Religious Track and Calls for All Restrictions on Freedom of Worship including Access to Religious Sites to be Lifted
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterress, calls for all restrictions on freedom of worship, including restrictions on access to religious sites, to be lifted. In his recently issued report to the UN Security Council on the UN Operation in Cyprus, he acknowledges the commitment of the religious leaders of Cyprus to joint dialogue and the promotion of religious freedom supported by the Embassy of Sweden, also known as the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP).
Mr Guterres underlines that freedom of worship, as a fundamental human right is important in and of itself. In addition, he states, “it can also provide a context for enhanced interaction between the communities.”
Referring to the RTCYPP, the Secretary General underlined that the “joint efforts by the religious leaders continue to lend much needed and broad based support for freedom of worship and the peace.” The Secretary General notes “sustained open dialogue combined with a commitment to freedom of worship by both sides can only serve to open doors for greater understanding and trust."
The 6-month report of the Secretary General (Reference: S/2017/20) on the operation in Cyprus was presented to members of the UN Security Council on 23 January 2017 when the renewal of UNFICYP’s mandate for an additional six more months was discussed.
Reports of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus are made twice a year and cover UNFICYPs operations and the political
developments on the island.
Full extract of the UN SG references to the RTCYPP are found here below.
Extracts from the UN Secretary General’s 6 months report on the Operation in Cyprus (23 January 2017)
Paragraph 24: The religious leaders of Cyprus continued to demonstrate their commitment to joint dialogue and the promotion of religious freedom, supported by the Embassy of Sweden. The visit on 7 July to Hala Sultan Tekke to celebrate the feast of Bayram included, for the first time, Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Maronite, Armenian Orthodox and Latin Catholic representatives. On 9 December, the religious leaders launched a joint appeal via video message to encourage all those with information on the missing to come forward and support the work of the Committee on Missing Persons. On 30 November, the name day of Apostolos Andreas and the first day the Monastery was open to the public, upwards of two thousand people attended a service and visited the Monastery throughout the day with the support of UNDP and UNFICYP.
Paragraph 44: As a fundamental human right, there can be no doubt that freedom of worship across the island is important in and of itself. At the same time, it can also provide a context for enhanced interaction between the communities. I call for all restrictions on freedom of worship, including restrictions on access to religious sites, to be lifted.
Paragraph 45: I note that joint efforts by the religious leaders continue to lend much needed and broad based support for freedom of worship and the peace. Sustained open dialogue combined with a commitment to freedom of worship by both sides can only serve to open doors for greater understanding and trust.