U.S. to Cyprus John Koenig accompanied the Archbishop of America, who concludes on Monday his week-long official trip to Cyprus.
Nicosia.- Archbishop Demetrios of America concludes on Monday his official visit to Cyprus, with a state dinner offered in his honor by the President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades. On Sunday, the Archbishop celebrated his name day with a Divine Liturgy, at St. Demetrios Church in Acropolis, Nicosia. At 4pm. he greeted the opening of the Pancyprian Special Olympics and he blessed the ceremony.
On Saturday, Archbishop Demetrios crossed the green line on his the historic first pilgrimage to the St Andreas Monastery in the Karpas Peninsula and the occupied areas of Cyprus.
The journey was organized by the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus. Archbishop Demetrios, accompanied by the members of his entourage and US Ambassador to Cyprus John Koenig entered from the Ledra Palace checkpoint the occupied area of Nicosia and through the old road of Nicosia – Famagusta crossed the plain of Mesaorias stretching from Mt. Troodos up Pentadaktylos.
His first stop was the village of Agia Triada, where some 70 Greek Cypriots enclaved live. He was received by Bishop Christopher of Karpas. Archbishop Demetrios entered the church o Holy Trinity, lit a candle and bowed deeply moved. He chanted the hymn of Pentecost and the anthem “The champion defender” and he offered a short memorial service for Giannakis Liassi, a Greek Cypriot soldier, missing since 1974; his remains were found in 2010 near the village Klepini and identified by the method of DNA. Archbishop Demetrios met the soldier’s parents Sava and Maroula Liassi, who still live in the village.
Following the short service, the enclaved Greek Cypriots, mostly elders, offered a treat to the Archbishop and his entourage at the village cafe.
Along with the Bishop Karpas, Archbishop Demetrios traveled to Rizokarpaso where some 200 eclaved Greek Cypriots still live there and they visited the church of Saint Synesius.
Addressing the villagers, Archbishop Demetrios said “we know that you are holding here heroically the flag of Orthodoxy. You should know that we are always by your side and the day will come that Rizokarpaso will again be a free part the Republic of Cyprus”
The President of the Cyprus Federation of America Tsentas Costas in his greeting assured the enclaved for the full support of Cypriots in America.
Former CFA president Peter Papanicolaou, said “we are thinking of you, we understand your pain and we try to do our best. All the school children are included in the Cyprus Children’s Fund program in the United States and we closely monitor what you do. I hope that soon all of us will be able to live together in one homeland for everyone”.
“In our eyes you’re all heroes,” he stressed in his address Bishop Sebastian Zilon and wished justice and freedom to prevail in this area.
US Ambassador John Koenig in his greeting thanked the enclaved Greek Cypriots for the warm reception and said:
“It is a great honor to be here today with my colleagues from the Embassy and we can help you in some things; also (help) the Archbishop and his entourage to visit Rizokarpaso and Karpas and the enclaved Greek Cypriots staying here. Since my first time in Cyprus I was always close to the Greek Cypriots of Karpas and I think we should do what we can to support you, because you are a kernel of hope for a reunited Cyprus. ”
Shortly before noon, Archbishop Demetrios arrived at St Andrew’s and saw the ruined monastery, the church and the bell tower without crosses and with obvious signs of 40 years of occupation. The church is in an advanced state of disrepair and decay; restoration work has begun since two months ago. Archbishop Demetrios had a chance to speak to representatives and engineers of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage and UNDP “Partnership for the Future “.
On the way back to Nicosia, Archbishop Demetrios stopped at the Monastery of St. Barnabas the Apostle, founder of the Church of Cyprus.
Archbishop Demetrios of America arrived on Tuesday, October 21, following the invitation of the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nikos Anastasiades, and with the unanimous agreement of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus. At the International Larnaca Airport, Archbishop Demetrios was welcomed by the Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment Mr. Nikos Koufialis and His Excellency Metropolitan of Kition Chrysostomos.
The delegation accompanying Archbishop Demetrios is comprised of His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, His Grace Bishop Sevastianos of Zela (Chief Secretary of the Eparchial Holy Synod), Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos, the past president of the Cyprus Federation of America Mr. Panikos Papanikolaou, the present president Mr. Kostas Tsentas, the director of the Archbishop’s Office Mrs. Alice Keurian, the director of the Archdiocese Press Office Mr. Stavros Papagermanos, and the Archdiocese photographer Mr. Dimitrios Panagos.
Mr Koufialis said, “it is indeed an honor to welcome His Eminence to Cyprus, we receive him with great joy, knowing fully his tireless work in America for the promotion of our national issues and the advancement of all the things that concern Hellenism.
Metropolitan Chrysostomos, representing the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus and His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos welcomed Archbishop Demetrios as an angel of peace and dear friend of Cyprus and added: “We express unequivocally our love and gratitude for all that he does for the people of Cyprus and for Hellenism in America.”
Archbishop Demetrios in his statement upon his arrival stated: “This visit for us it is not simply a visit but a pilgrimage. It is a pilgrimage in a sacred place that has given culture and has suffered injustice. In return for everything it has contributed it continues to suffer adversity, pressure and the occupation of a significant part of its territory. Cyprus continues to offer a lesson in resilience, a lesson of high principles and sticking to values, a lesson of pure patriotism and untainted Orthodoxy; and it is for this reason that we declare publicly that Cyprus for us is a very dear, venerable and sacred part of our Genos, of Orthodoxy and of universal Hellenism. Our pilgrimage here starts with a very deep feeling of duty, so that the days we spend on this island will give us additional data for when we return to America it will enable us to continue this struggle that we do all these years with the support of the Greek American community and especially with the Greek Cypriot American Community. It is a struggle we undertake regardless of results and it will continue because we believe that the God of justice and of love will at the end justify this blessed and pained people and will grant to all the people who live on this island a life of creativity and peace, as they continue to offer culture and peace to the whole world.”
Almost immediately upon his arrival to Nicosia, Archbishop Demetrios paid a visit to His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus and had with him the first of the three visits scheduled during this trip.
During his stay Demetrios met with the Minister of Educations Costas Kadis and discussed the expansion of cooperation between his ministry and the Archdiocese of America. He paid courtesy visits with the Ambassadors of Greece and the United States and visited many historical and cultural sites and philanthropic foundations caring for children and persons with special needs.
The Archbishop met on Wednesday with House President Yiannakis Omirou, in Nicosia, and expressed his belief that with the help of God, people will live again in a reunited Cyprus since “it is impossible for justice and truth not to prevail”.
In statements after the meeting, Archbishop Demetrios thanked the President of the House for their constructive discussion and expressed the unconditional support of all Greek Americans.
On his part, Omirou said they exchanged views with the Archbishop who categorically condemned Turkey`s violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone.
He added that Ankara`s move to dispatch its research vessel “Barbaros” to the area is a new brutal violation of the international law, and the law of the sea in particular.
Omirou expressed deep gratitude to the Orthodox Church and the Greek and Cypriot communities in America, noting that the Archbishop constitutes “a strong voice” that raises the issue of the restoration of the Greek Cypriots` rights, and that his actions have begun to bear fruit.
Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus` northern part since the invasion of the island in 1974, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, in spite of repeated calls by the EU to normalize relations with Nicosia.