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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 10-04-14

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    The Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II has call on EU to systematically and effectively work in order to restore and ensure respect for religious freedoms in the occupied part of Cyprus.

    Addressing a seminar on ``Religious freedom and Holy Sites in the Republic of Cyprus``, which took place Wednesday at the European Parliament, in Brussels, Archbishop Chrysostomos recalling lyrics from the poem of George Seferis Salamis of Cyprus, said that Cyprus is the island of suffering, whose northern part, (37% of its territory), has been occupied for 36 years by Turkish invading troops who forcibly drove the people from their homes, villages and towns, and, with a view to altering the demographic composition of the population, settled the North with large numbers of people from Turkey.

    In addition, he noted, they are barbarously and cruelly plundering and destroying our sacred Christian sites and other examples of our cultural heritage and are preventing our people from the free exercise of their religious duties. He also pointed out that just a week ago the so called authorities in occupied areas refused to allow the Bishop of the Karpass to perform the Easter Service for the very few enclaved persons in his occupied diocese.

    Archbishop pointed out that Cyprus, was always a place of religious pluralism, with 80% of the population made up of Greek-Cypriot Orthodox Christians, 18% Turkish-Cypriot Muslims and the remaining 2% Maronites, Armenians and Latins.

    Until the Turkish invasion of 1974, everyone lived in peace and harmony in their mixed towns and villages, each person freely worshipping his or her own God. There have never been religious conflicts, uprisings or disturbances. This is still the situation in the government-controlled territory of the Cyprus Republic, he added.

    Chrysostomos II stressed that for the past thirty-six years, in the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island, religious freedoms have neither been respected nor implemented, and the Turkish invasion troops, the settlers and the illegal regime in the North, which is supported by Turkey, in an unprecedentedly brutal and harsh way are systematically plundering and destroying our religious sites and monuments, our churches and monasteries.

    For all these reasons, the Church of Cyprus raises its voice in protest and asks, indeed, demands the withdrawal from the island of all the troops of occupation and all the settlers. Only thus will religious freedoms be restored in the occupied north of Cyprus, and only thus will all our religious and holy sites be saved and preserved, he said.

    Archbishop Chrysostomos said that this is the message, which we bring today to Brussels, to the very heart of Europe. We ask the European Union to support our demand strongly and powerfully and to work systematically and effectively in order to restore and ensure respect for religious freedoms in the occupied part of our island; to put an end to the looting and plundering of our sacred sites and monuments and to protect our religious sites, he said.

    Finally, he expressed hope that the EU will not turn its back on Cyprus Church, but will exercise its power and influence in this highly sensitive, humanitarian, cultural and religious matter.

    Since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, more than 500 orthodox churches, in the northern Turkish occupied areas of the island, have been desecrated, destroyed or converted into mosques, military camps or hen houses. Hundreds of religious artifacts, including priceless icons, have been stolen and are being sold on the black market in Europe and the US.


    Cypriot Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Paschalides pledged on Wednesday that the collective effort to boost tourist arrivals in Cyprus would continue, as figures show that tourist flows in Cyprus on March 2010 increased by 14.8% on year to year basis.

    Figures released by Cyprus Statistical Service show the first signs of recovery in one of Cyprus` main economy sectors affected by the global financial crisis. ``Despite the fact that we speak for only one month, the results of tourist arrivals in Cyprus for March are very encouraging,`` Paschalides said in statements before his departure for Spanish capital Madrid to participate in an informal Tourism Ministers Council of the EU.

    Tourist arrivals for March 2010 reached 103.803 compared to 90.434 in March 2009, recording an increase of 14.8%. Tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom, Cyprus` main tourist partner, increased by 5.7% (from 41.083 in March 2009 to 43.426 in March 2010), while arrivals from Germany increased by 20.1% (from 12.812 to 15.391 this year). On the other hand, a decrease of 27.7% was recorded in tourist arrivals from France (1.182 in March 2010 compared to 1.635 in March 2009) and 19.8% decrease from Netherlands (1.180 compared to 1.471 last year).


    Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Urmas Paet, pays Cyprus an official visit 14-15 April.

    The Estonian Minister, who arrived in Cyprus Wednesday afternoon, will have a tete a tete meeting with his Cypriot counterpart Markos Kyprianou on Thursday morning, followed by official talks with the participation of delegations from both countries.

    During his visit here, Paet will be received by President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias. He will also hold a meeting with President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian and Chairman of the House Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs Averof Neofytou. The Estonian Minister and his entourage depart Thursday afternoon.


    Victor Mantovani, President of the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA) said on Wednesday he is cautiously optimistic regarding tourist arrivals in Cyprus in 2010, as statistics on tourist arrivals to the island in March showed a 5% increase.

    Speaking to a press conference on the announcement of the travel exhibition ``TAXIDI 2010``, Mantovani said that figures in March showed an increase of 5% in tourist arrivals, despite predictions for a very difficult year, particularly concerning Great Britain.

    ``We are cautiously optimistic that there will be an increase in tourist flow,`` Mantovani added. However, Mantovani voiced concern regarding prices in Cyprus.

    Regarding 2009, which was marked by severe financial crisis, Mantovani said that tourist arrivals in Cyprus declined by 11%, clarifying that for ACTA only persons that travel to Cyprus and stay overnight in Cypriot-owned hotels can be considered as tourists.

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