The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, and the Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, had a meeting today, in Lefkosia. In the framework of his visit to Cyprus, Archbishop Gallagher was also received by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades.
Minister Kasoulides and Archbishop Gallagher had a private meeting, followed by official talks of the delegations of Cyprus and the Holy See and statements to the Press. Issues on the agenda included, inter alia, the bilateral relations, the Cyprus problem, the migration and refugees crisis, as well as the situation in Syria and Iraq.
Speaking to media representatives, Minister Kasoulides warmly welcomed Archbishop Gallagher to Cyprus, highlighting the excellent level of the relations between Cyprus and the Holy See.
Minister Kasoulides had the opportunity to discuss with Archbishop Gallagher the efforts for reaching peace in Cyprus by reuniting the country. He also pointed out that the Archbishop was also informed by the President of the Republic on the developments in the negotiation process for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
Moreover, Cyprus’ Foreign Minister underlined the common position of the two countries on policies of ecumenical significance, like the protection of human rights and the rights of belief of minorities, and, particularly, in this case, Christian minorities in the Middle East, the combating of human trafficking, the empowering of young generation with education, the promotion of interfaith dialogue as a peace tool and also the protection of global religious heritage. “We have talked about our experience on this issue and about our efforts now about our resolution voted unanimously at the Human Rights Council in Geneva and about what we are planning to do, with a specific convention at the Council of Europe when we undertake our Presidency”, he added.
As regards the refugees and migration crisis, Mr Kasoulides and Archbishop Gallagher agreed on the need to respect the human lives, as well as the human rights of the people that move. “I have explained what we are doing in Cyprus on this issue, the fact that there is no xenophobia, there is no tolerance addressing these issues”, Minister Kasoulides said.
Furthermore, the two Ministers discussed about Lebanon and the recent election of President Aoun. Finally, they examined the situation in Syria and Iraq, focusing on the fate of the Christians in Mosul.
On his part, Archbishop Gallagher expressed his pleasure for his visit and the meetings he held, adding that his presence in Cyprus “is an indication of the excellent relations that exist between the Holy See and Cyprus. I have already witnessed the great spirit of cooperation and tolerance between the various components of the national society and we obviously support all efforts to bring greater peace, security and to resolve all pending problems here, within Cyprus”.
He further stressed that the Holy See encourages the dialogue, especially “the Holy Father, Pope Francis, is always encouraging what he calls a ‘culture of encounter’, which enables people to face up to problems, even great problems, and to work together to find solutions”.
Finally, he expressed conviction that there are many opportunities to develop cooperation between the Holy See, and the Catholic Church in general, and Cyprus, both now and in the future./IBNA