Archbishop of America: US efforts for a Cyprus solution to continue
New York.- by Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Archbishop of America Demetrios has said that US efforts for a Cyprus problem settlement will continue, noting that this problem is important and has wider ramifications in the Middle East.
In an interview with Greek News ahead of his official visit to Cyprus 24 – 30 January, the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America expressed the belief that as time lapses he notices a softening of the initially negative approach on the part of the US towards the Greek Cypriots.
During his visit to the island his Eminence will be received by the Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, whose stance towards the referendum he praised, noting the President’s disposition to display calm determination.
«I have the feeling that he was fulfilling his duty to the full towards history and the reality in Cyprus, taking into consideration all factors», he said, referring to Papadopoulos’ appeal to the Greek Cypriots to reject a UN-proposed solution plan which the President said did not serve the interests of Cyprus.
Referring to the Cyprus issue, the Archbishop said that due to its importance and its impact in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean “I am certain that efforts take place and will continue in order to reach a solution to the problem».
Regarding the issue of the ailing head of the Cyprus church and the possibility of elections for an Archbishop, Demetrios said it is natural that there would be a reference to this during his visit. However, he pointed out that “it is not an issue which someone could enter into discussions or make proposals”.
The Orthodox leader expressed the conviction that “with God’s help, the best possible solution on the issue will be found”.
The Holy Synod, the highest body of the Church of Cyprus, unanimously decided to send a letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos asking for a wider synod of prelates to be held to decide whether to remove Cyprus’ ailing religious leader and hold elections for a successor.
The Archbishop of America warmly talked about the role of the Cypriot community in the US on issues concerning the Archbishopric and the Greek-American community. Participating in the official delegation is the President of the Cyprus Federation of America Panicos Papanicolaou.
Demetrios’ trip to Cyprus is the first official visit to the island by an Archbishop of America. Pressure from Ankara on the Ecumenical Patriarchate has prevented any such visits in the past.
In his interview, Demetrios pointed out that his visit takes place as a result of changes in the international arena and because of his close relationship with President Papadopoulos.
He described his visit “an honour” since it provides the opportunity for the overseas Greek American community to “communicate with our brothers in Cyprus”.
He said the visit will bear witness to the love and interest of the Greek Americans for a just solution to the Cyprus problem.
Besides President Papadopoulos, Archbishop Demetrios will meet with the presiding hierarch of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus, Metropolitan Chrysostom of Paphos and other members the Holy Synod. Archbishop Demetrios is also scheduled to meet with the President of the Parliament Mr. Demetris Christofias, the Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou and the Minister of Education and Culture Mr. Pefkios Georgiades.
Archbishop Demetrios of America will also meet with the US Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicher and in a separate meeting with the Ambassador of Greece to Cyprus Demetrios Rallis.
Other scheduled events include a visit to philanthropic institutions, the “imprisoned graves” of those fallen for Cypriot Independence and the PanCyprian High School. Archbishop Demetrios will also present a lecture at the University of Cyprus in Nicosia.
On Friday, January 27, Archbishop Demetrios will meet with the Mayor of Nicosia Mr. Michael Zampelas who will offer His Eminence the gold key of the capital city. Mayor Zampelas will then escort Archbishop Demetrios to the “Green Line”, which separates the heart of the city in two. Nicosia is the last divided capital in Europe.
On Saturday, January 28, Archbishop Demetrios will visit the grave of Archbishop Makarios III, the first leader of the Republic of Cyprus, where he will offer a Trisagion Service and place a memorial wreath.
On Sunday, January 29, His Eminence will preside over the Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Panagia in Pallouriotisa.
His Eminence is scheduled to return to the United States on Monday, January 30.