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Pope Receives the President of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiades
Vatican City, 15 February 2014: On Saturday morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received Nikos Anastasiades, the President of the Republic of Cyprus. He later met Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin along with Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.
A Vatican statement said that during the cordial talks which highlighted the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Cyprus, mention was made of several matters of common interest, such as the positive role of religion in society and the protection of the right to religious freedom.
Both side expressed satisfaction at the resumption of negotiations aiming at the development of a shared solution to the Island’s current situation. Finally, both sides indicated their concern regarding the political instability affecting the region of the Near and Middle East, which leads to great suffering on the part of civilian populations, and shared their hope that the Christian communities in the various countries may continue to offer their contribution to building a future of material and spiritual wellbeing.
In an interview with Vatican’s newspaper ‘Osservatore Romano, on the eve of his meeting with Pope Francis, President of Cyprus spoke of the need to restore and enhance the Christian heritage, coexistence between religions, Europe’s contribution to peace in the Middle East, and the fate of the thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe through the Mediterranean.
When asked about Pope’s grave concern about the future of Christians in the Middle East, and the role of the international community to prevent Christian deletion from that region, he said that Cyprus has been blessed by a strong Christian heritage. Cyprus, he said, is an island state in the east of the Mediterranean, at the crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa, a Member State of the European Union, a melting pot of religions and cultures, a country that, despite its recent tragic history, a model for peaceful co-existence of the monotheistic religions of the world.
Nikos Anastasiades shared the concerns of the Holy Father about the future of Christianity, but added, protecting the rights of religious minorities, including Christians, is essential to safeguard the fundamental principle of human rights. ‘We strongly believe that the international community share a great responsibility to take measures to protect and promote the rights and religious freedoms of Christians in the tumultuous region of the southern Mediterranean’, he added.
About the major concern expressed by Pope Francis to the fate of the thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe, the President said that Cyprus shares many of the foreign policy priorities of the Holy See, as the protection of human and religious rights, the fight against trafficking in human beings and the need to address the issue of migration. He said that illegal migration and trafficking in human beings should be treated with a humanitarian approach, respecting and supporting human rights.
Source: VR Sedoc