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Tutu urges Archbishop to play a greater role

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jonathan
Wednesday, 9 February, 2011

Archbishop Desmond Tutu yesterday urged the head of the Cyprus Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos, to play the role of Saint Barnabas in Cyprus and “facilitate” efforts for a solution on the island.The Cypriot primate, on the other hand, expressed eagerness to emulate Tutu’s role in South Africa as an activist and proponent of human rights, saying he will launch a crusade to promote human rights in Cyprus.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu yesterday urged the head of the Cyprus Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos, to play the role of Saint Barnabas in Cyprus and “facilitate” efforts for a solution on the island.

The Cypriot primate, on the other hand, expressed eagerness to emulate Tutu’s role in South Africa as an activist and proponent of human rights, saying he will launch a crusade to promote human rights in Cyprus.

Elders’ chair Tutu and his fellow Elder Dr Gro Brundtland, a former Norwegian Prime Minister, yesterday visited Cyprus for a fourth time, meeting with President Demetris Christofias, Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu and Archbishop Chrysostomos.

Speaking last night, Tutu said the two religious leaders discussed the possibility of an inter-religious council in Cyprus to address issues of mutual concern and the role of religion in helping to promote a settlement.

The South African Nobel Peace Prize winner told Chrysostomos that he was the successor of Barnabas, the founder of the Cyprus Church “who in the New Testament has a very critical role”.

He went on to explain that when Saul converted to Christianity on the way to Damascus and became Paul, he was viewed with great suspicion by the emerging Christian community at the time.

“Barnabas is the one who reassures them that this man is OK. And we said, ‘yes, please facilitate the process of reaching a settlement’ because we felt a little that, when we first came two and a half years ago, we went away on a high. Now we are a little more sombre,” said Tutu.

Brundtland agreed, saying: “After two and a half years of negotiations, we are a little disappointed that we still seem to be so far from an agreement. However we are convinced that a solution is possible.”

She added that lasting peace for the children of Cyprus was “worth the effort of rising above today’s narrow partisan concerns” and called for a renewed spirit of leadership in Cyprus: “It is a question of leadership on both sides. They know what needs to be done… It can be done.”

Tutu called on the two leaders to “please find one another”, highlighting parts of the world like South Africa and Northern Ireland where seemingly intractable problems were resolved.

Speaking after meeting with Tutu, Chrysostomos said the highlight of their conversation was when he told him that from now on he will take on a similar role to the one Tutu had in South Africa.

“I will shout out to everyone that they should provide justice for Cyprus,” said the archbishop. “We seek nothing more than our human rights which the powerful fight wars to enforce. We don’t want them to go to war for us, for our human rights. Europe and America could enforce these human rights just shaking their little finger.

The primate said he will “launch a crusade so that the principles applied in well governed countries of Europe and America will be applied in Cyprus as well”.

Meanwhile, Tutu stressed: “We pray fervently that God will be able to use his Beatitude to help the children of Cyprus to live amicably, happily together as they used to do.”

The Elders were unable to meet the Mufti of the Turkish Cypriot community, Talip Atalay, due to his travel commitments.

They came to the island to attend a special screening of a documentary film on the search for the missing in Cyprus, called Cyprus: Digging the Past in Search of the Future.

The documentary follows Tutu, Jimmy Carter and Lakhdar Brahimi and four young Cypriots from both communities as they learn of the search for all those who disappeared in inter-communal violence and conflict in the 1960s and 1970s.

One of the four teenagers, Idil Cazimoglu, said last night: “I hope this documentary will help our people to reconsider their thoughts in their minds and think if their opinions are really their own opinions or are formed by details they heard when they were a child.”

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