On April 11 2012, His Holiness Aram I received a letter from the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, informing him that the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus had placed Bishop of Karpasia, Christoforos, on their ‘stop’ list, an act that denies his fundamental human right of freedom of movement and the right of the Greek Cypriot Citizens in the occupied enclave to live in dignity and practice their Christian faith (Universal Declaration on Human Rights, articles 13 and 18 respectively).
In the letter, the Foreign Minister also states that this new decision to prevent Greek Orthodox Christians to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Easter Sunday in the Karpasia is another example of Turkey’s constant breach of the fundamental human rights and the judgment passed by the European Court of Human Rights (2001). In the end of the letter, Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis requests from His Holiness Aram I to condemn this act publicly.
In response to the Foreign Minister’s letter, Catholicos Aram I wrote, “ As the spiritual head of the Armenian community in Cyprus, which also has churches and a monastery under the illegal occupation, I am aware of all the breaches of the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that have taken place since 1974. This experience with the illegal occupation of our church property by Turkey is the continuation of the denial policy of Turkey’s past and present authorities.”
He then continued, “By not allowing Greek Orthodox believers in the Karpesia region to celebrate religious ceremonies, despite the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment of the Fourth interstate Application of Cyprus v. Turkey (May 10, 2001) and by limiting the number of priests to spiritually accompany the Orthodox faithful in the enclave under occupation (Report of the visit of U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion or Belief Mr. Heiner Bielfeldt, April 5 2012), Turkey has once again demonstrated its double standard politics. On the one hand, Turkish authorities present themselves as defenders of human rights in the Arab World by their 28 August 2011 decision to compensate non-Muslim minorities and return property lost since 1936 to Greek, Jewish and Armenian communities. On the other hand, they deny publicly any responsibility for the Armenian Genocide and its consequences, and they ignore all international declarations and court decisions regarding the rights of Greek Cypriot citizens and Greek Orthodox faithful under their illegal occupying regime.”
In the end of his letter, His Holiness informed the Foreign Minister that he had written to the General Secretaries of the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches as well as to the leaderships of the Armenian communities in the Middle East, Europe and North America asking them to condemn the denial of Turkey of the fundamental human rights of the Greek Cypriots under the illegal regime of its occupied northern Cyprus.