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17-10-2019 20:15

Address by the President of the House of Representatives, Mr Demetris Syllouris, οn the occasion of the visit to Cyprus of the Archbishop and a delegation of the Archdiocese of Milan

I thank you for this invitation and the opportunity to address you on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Cyprus, following the steps of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas, the latter being as you very well know the Patron Saint of Cyprus.

We are very proud of our long history of which a large component entails strong cultural and religious elements. I will not endeavour to go into the history’s details as I am sure you are all very well informed. However, I do think we have one element in common in today’s realities. We all work and toil for peace and understanding between different cultures and faiths.

In the spirit of this pursuit of our common goal, may I just offer a short presentation of some initiatives I took in the time of my mandate as President of the Cyprus House of Representatives. I have initiated, along with my Greek counterpart, trilateral meetings of Presidents of Parliament with some countries of the region and Israel and we are now trying to expand these meetings to other countries in the area, mainly dealing with soft power issues. Another programme on my agenda has been the establishment of a Middle East Cooperation Centre, bringing in other stakeholders to help us promote our wider vision for cooperation in the area.

An important pillar in this spirit has been materialising in the last few months, namely the promotion of the Arabic language in Cyprus, both for Arab immigrant and refugee children in Cyprus and for Cypriots interested to learn. In the same framework, a Chair of Arabic Language and Culture is to be created in one of Cyprus’ universities. As you understand, the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue is of paramount importance for the Cyprus Parliament and for myself personally. 

Last but not least, my very good relations with the Vatican. I have very fond memories of my visit there in March 2017 and my meeting with His Eminence the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. I have to express my appreciation as, at that meeting, I found substantial support for an issue that concerns us as Cypriots, but is also of universal interest and concern, that of the destruction of the cultural and religious heritage of Cyprus in the area occupied by Turkey since 1974. May I ask you to keep this issue close to your heart and to do everything you can to help put an end to the destruction and to save what can still be restored and returned.

Thank you for listening and for keeping Cyprus in your prayers.