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Media Watch 2010

23 March 2010
Source: Cyprus News Agency
Archbishop's visit to occupied monastery to signal start of restoration work
Thirty six years after the Turkish invasion, the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos II visited on Monday the holy monastery of Apostle Andreas, located in the Karpass Peninsula, on the northeastern tip of the island.

Visibly moved, the Archbishop entered the Monastery and together with Father Zacharia, who officiates church services at this holy site, expressed hope that renovation work can start the soonest possible.

Karpass Bishop Christoforos gave a handmade icon of Apostle Andreas to the Archbishop to remember the visit, adding "we hope that your visit will signal the start of restoration work at the monastery, which would avert total collapse and that your trip will mark the reunification of the island, so that we can officiate services at our churches and see Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots live united".

Archbishop Chrysostomos said he wished the monastery will be restored the soonest possible "to become a real religious and spiritual haven".

He said he wished to see the revival of the monastery, which is the most sacred pilgrimage site in Cyprus, and that "better days will come for everybody. It is up to us, if we work together, I am sure that the day of reunification will come soon for Greeks and Turks" in Cyprus.

The Archbishop said "our region wants peace and we should all contribute to peace, which is also God's wish".

He thanked the self-styled minister of tourism in the Turkish occupied north, Ersan Saner, who was waiting for him at the monastery and entered the sacred area together with the Archbishop. "He is responsible for monuments. I hope that during his term in office, the monuments will be restored for the sake of history, Greeks and Turks and humanity, because humanity leaves behind its monuments which belong to the civilized world", Archbishop Chrysostomos said.

On his part, Saner said he is making efforts for the restoration and revival of the monastery for the benefit of all and even if the monuments are in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus, "they belong to humanity".

He said "we are ready for any cooperation not only for mosques and churches but also to protect the architectural monuments of the world".

"We are ready for every effort and cooperation. Since the Archbishop has the same ideas, without wasting any more time, we should start work the soonest possible", Saner added.

Speaking to a group of enclaved Greek Cypriots (living in occupied Cyprus), Archbishop Chrysostomos said he had sent a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan calling for the restoration of all occupied churches. He also said that the Church wants to develop relations which could help the political leadership solve the Cyprus problem "because our concern is to find the correct solution so that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live together happy".

Ioannis Ioanikios, speaking on behalf of the enclaved, said yesterday was a day of feast "like we celebrate Easter, because the Archbishop is here".

This is the first time the Archbishop had crossed into the occupied areas since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The Archbishop, accompanied by the bishop of Karpasia Christoforos, crossed the dividing line from Saint Dometios
crossing point without stopping for any ''formalities''. During his stay in the occupied areas, his car was escorted by a vehicle of the so-called police of the occupation regime. 

Chrysostomos' first stop was the Holy Monastery of Apostle Varnavas, where he visited the tomb of Varnavas, the founder of the autocephalous Church of Cyprus. He expressed hope for the speedy reunification of the island.