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Ecumenical Patriarch and European Parliament President Have Expressed Hope Over Cyprus
2008-09-26 13:16:58

Brussels, Sept 25 – His All Holiness, Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch and the President of the European Parliament, Hans Gert Petering have expressed optimism over the course of the direct talks between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities aiming at a political settlement that will reunite Cyprus.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, having addressed the plenary of the European Parliament, His All Holiness, Bartholomew I, expressed hope that the negotiations will succeed, saying that at last there are messages that the dialogue will have a positive outcome and that the political problem of Cyprus, which has affected the Greek community in Constantinople will be solved.

The President of the EC has also expressed optimism for the outcome of the talks, which began in early September between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, adding that legally, the whole island of Cyprus is an EU state.

He pointed out that the aim is to find a federal solution, noting that Turkey must open its ports and airports to Cyprus as well. Turkey, which does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, refused to give access to Cypriot flagged vessels and aircrafts which is an obligation that has to be met as part of its accession course to join the EU.

Turkey’s refusal to open its ports and airport to Cyprus is an obstacle to its relations with the EU, he added.

At the press conference, His All Holiness, Bartholomew I stressed that despite Turkey’s reforms, there are steps that should be taken towards the full democratization and respect of human rights and religious freedom.

He said that there is willingness in Turkey to succeed in its accession negotiations, to proceed with internal reforms and adjust its national legislation to the acquis communautaire and meet the criteria set out for candidate countries to join the EU.

In response to a question about the problems of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, he said in a country wishing to become a full member of the EU, the rights of minorities should be respected and more those of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

His All Holiness, Bartholomew I in his speech before the plenary, stressed the significance of intercultural dialogue, saying that “it is at the very root of what it means to be a human being, for no one culture of the human family encompasses every human person”.

“Without such dialogue, the differences in the human family are reduced to objectifications of the ‘other’ and lead to abuse, conflict, persecution – a grand scale human suicide, for we are all ultimately one humanity. But where the differences between us move us to encounter one another and where that encounter is based in dialogue, there is reciprocal understanding and appreciation – even love,” he added.

Referring to the most important practical characteristic that enables the work of intercultural dialogue to succeed, he noted that “chiefly and above all, there must be respect for the rights of the minority within every majority”.

“This is why Europe needs to bring Turkey into its Project and why Turkey needs to foster intercultural dialogue and tolerance in order to be accepted into the European Project,” he pointed out.

Commenting on the significance of the reopening of the Theological School of Halki after 37 years, he said that its reopening will be huge in importance, adding that all Orthodox believers can study there, irrespective of nationality, thus proving tolerance and freedom of religion as a Muslim country.

His All Holiness, Bartholomew I, whose seat is in Constantinople, is the spiritual leader of hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians worldwide.

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