To mark ten years of successful peacebuilding work in Cyprus, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde held a virtual dialogue and meeting with Cyprus’s religious leaders.
“They have shown that religion can bring people together instead of forcing them apart, and that Cyprus as a whole has to reflect both the Christian and Muslim presence,” says Ms Linde.
Cooperation between Muslim and Christian leaders broke down when the Cyprus conflict intensified in 1963. Contact was non-existent until the religious dialogue, supported by Sweden, was initiated ten years ago. By working together and supporting each other, Cyprus’s religious leaders have been able to improve freedom of religion, which was neglected in the conflict, and demonstrate the importance of cooperation for making progress in the deadlocked conflict.
In connection with the dialogue, Ms Linde presented the Royal Order of the Polar Star (first class) to Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud, Executive Director of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP). She is one of the few Cypriot recipients of the Order. Ms Eskidjian Weiderud was awarded the Order for having given Sweden a political role and visibility in the Cyprus peace process and having promoted Sweden and Swedish culture.
“Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud is a unique peace mediator. For ten years she has been working intensively and tirelessly for peace and reconciliation. She is a very concrete example of the importance of women for peace processes. Her work for dialogue, human rights and gender equality is nothing less than pioneering,” says Ms Linde.
The RTCYPP was initiated in 2010. It brings together religious leaders on the island with the aim of strengthening human rights, peace and reconciliation. The initiative is primarily funded by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and Sweden participates through its Embassy in Nicosia.