Nicosia, November 17, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
A ceremony to mark the completion of conservation works at the church of Profitis Elias, in the Turkish-occupied village of Filia, west of Nicosia, took place on Tuesday, in the presence of many Greek Cypriots who originate from the village.
The small crowd attending the event, also consisted of Turkish Cypriots, ambassadors and EU and UN officials.
The Heads of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, Takis Hadjidemetriou and Ali Tuncay, as well as Bishop Neophytos of Morphou, all send messages against intolerance and fanaticism, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, last Friday, as well as some incidents of violence against Turkish Cypriots, that took place on Monday.
We will not let the incidents in Cyprus poison our joy, said Hadjidemetriou who noted that “we shall fight against any notion of animosity and hatred and we shall win”.
In his address, Tuncay noted that political and religious leaders have a great responsibility in helping to build a lasting peace in Cyprus. “We hope and trust that they will take the lead to condemn any action that has the potential to damage the relations between the two communities”, he noted.
The event was impromptu addressed by Bishop Neophytos, who said that the recent tragic events in Paris should give Cypriots a lesson “not to let developments tilt towards fanaticism”.
The Technical Committee started conservation works at the small church on April 2013, under the coordination of UNDP-PFF, which were completed in July 2015. The total cost of 128,400 euros was financed completely by the EU.
Addressing the ceremony, Hadjidemetriou also noted that Cyprus is delivering a message to its people, to the region and to Europe, that “Christians and Muslims can co-exist and they can cooperate for the peace of humanity”.
Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots “should not be prisoners of the past” said Ali Tuncay on his part. He went on to say that the past is there in order to take the necessary lessons from it and never repeat them in the future.
Tiziana Zennaro, the UNDP-PFF Programme Manager said that a “monument of great importance” on which conservation works are being carried out, is not necessary the biggest or the most ancient one, but “a monument where old and new memories meet, a place that goes beyond worship to develop new feelings of common belonging and understanding”.
The Head of the EU Programme Support Office Michaela Foresti noted that the main achievement is that “it is being proven that Turkish and Greek Cypriots can work together, respect and trust each other and live united in peace”.
The Bishop of Morphou noted in his message that the Church of Profitis Elias “stands upright again” sending the “prophetic message” that the village of Filia will spread friendship among all of Cyprus` communities.
He called on ambassadors from the member states and EU officials to continue their financial support for the restoration of Cyprus` monuments, which he said is all about the future of Europe.
Speaking finally on recent events in France, the Bishop noted that Cyprus can prove to be an island of peace, staying away from religious fanaticism.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN-led talks, aiming to reunite the island under a federal roof, resumed last May.