Cyprus’s religious leaders in talks

The newly elected archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, is today due to receive the leading Muslim cleric of the Turkish Cypriots, Ahmet Yonluer, in free Nicosia for an historic meeting to discuss the rapprochement of Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the divided island. Chrysostomos, who has agreed to visit the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus on January 22 to return the mufti’s visit, told Kathimerini in an interview published over the weekend that he would aim to send a message of reconciliation during today’s talks but also stress Nicosia’s opposition to Turkey’s occupation of the island. «We will try to highlight our decision that we can live happily with the Turkish Cypriots,» the archbishop said, adding: «We will stress the illegal occupation of our territory by Turkey. Our enemy is Ankara, not the Turkish Cypriots.» Chrysostomos, who is the first archbishop of Cyprus to visit the island’s occupied north since the Turkish invasion of 1974, said he would also raise the issue of Greek churches in the Turkish-held north. «I will emphasize that (the churches) are our property and do not belong to them. I insist that they be returned to their rightful owner, the Church of Cyprus,» he said. During his trip to Famagusta, in the north, the archbishop is to visit the Monastery of the Saint Barnabas, now a museum. Today, he and the mufti are to visit the island’s most important Muslim shrine, the Hala Sultan Tekke, in the southern city of Larnaca.

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