Church gives president ‘wholehearted support’

Elias Hazou – 31/10/13

Cyprus: CHURCH leaders yesterday gave President Anastasiades their “wholehearted support” for a renewed peace drive aimed at ending the island’s decades-long division.

Speaking on behalf of the Holy Synod, Archbishop Chrysostomos told Anastasiades he could rest assured that he has full support of the Church in the “tough task ahead of you”.

The comments were made after Anastasiades met the Holy Synod to brief them on ongoing preparations for a fresh round of reunification talks.

“We are all concerned, our people are concerned, and we wish to give our support with all the power of our soul… we wish you success in achieving a correct solution, one that serves the interests of all the people of Cyprus, Greeks and Turks,” the Prelate said.

Elaborating, Chrysostomos said he could recall the days when the two communities lived together in harmony, expressing the wish that those days will return.

“This is our dream, our position, because we want peace to come to our land finally, for our people to live happily with the Turkish Cypriots as we had done for centuries,” the Prelate added.

For his part, the President assured Church leaders he would continue to brief them on developments, “unfailingly and regularly”.

The government’s intention is to lay the groundwork for substantive talks in order to ensure that the new peace drive “is not in vain,” Anastasiades said.

Though the Archbishop came across as conciliatory yesterday, his track record shows a hawkish, hard-line stance on the Cyprus issue.

In 2004, while he was Bishop of Paphos, Chrysostomos came out fiercely against a UN reunification plan that was put to separate referenda.

In an interview days before the referendum, in April of that year, Chrysostomos described Turkish Cypriots as “lazy,” accusing them of wanting a solution only to take advantage of the wealth accumulated by the Greek Cypriots.

“How much longer will we keep feeding these ne’er-do-wells?” he was famously quoted as saying.