Two historical churches along the Green Line in Nicosia have been saved from collapse following the intervention of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP).
The RTCYPP, under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden, is a peacebuilding initiative with the religious leaders of Cyprus who are committed to work together for human rights, peace and reconciliation.
According to its website, the Office of RTCYPP was established “to encourage, facilitate and serve the religious leaders’ dialogue and efforts for religious freedom and peace in Cyprus and to contribute positively and constructively to the Cyprus peace talks”.
According to an RTCYPP announcement on Thursday: “The religious leaders of Cyprus, working together within the framework of the RTCYPP, welcome the good news, that their joint efforts to save the two historic Churches found in the Green Line have borne fruit, as per their request, and will soon be reinforced for protection”.
The Church of St George dates back to the 17th century. It lies in the yard of the Ayios Kassianos’ School. The Church of St Jacob, back to 15th century and is considered a very important Byzantine style monument. Neither of the churches are accessible to civilians.
The organisation said the churches had been at a high risk of collapse before officials working on the Nicosia Master Plan brought the problem to the attention of RTCYPP.
“We thank God for the fact that after so many years of efforts together with the Mufti we are now promised that these two historic Churches will no longer fear collapse”, said Archbishop Chrysostomos II commented.
“We had hoped that our initial request to carry the responsibility for the studies as well as the reinforcements with a bi-communal team of workers would have been accepted but appreciate the decision for a speedy implementation of the reinforcements.”
Turkish Cypriot Mufti Talip Atalay commented: “We could not have reached this result without the support of (Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa) Mr. Akinci and the Turkish forces”.
“Our faith teaches us to protect and respect all places of worship. Historic monuments such as these ones need to be protected not only because they are the cultural heritage of Cyprus but because they are also sacred monuments for all believers,” he added.