A desire to learn more about the aspirations of Cyprus' Greek and Turkish communities, including the Church of Cyprus - in order to build on peace negotiations - is the reason for a planned 31 March - 3 April visit there by a World Council of Churches (WCC) staff delegation.
As the two sides failed to reach agreement under the Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem put forward by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, the visit will help the WCC give guidance to the global ecumenical fellowship as it continues to accompany the peace process.
The WCC delegation will meet with members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus, Greek and Turkish Cypriot political leaders, United Nations (UN) and European Union representatives, and members of civil society.
A February 2003 statement on Cyprus by the WCC executive committee noted encouraging developments in the political and civil society spheres. Highlighting this hope, WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs director Peter Weiderud noted that "While one important negotiation deadline has passed, there are still strong signs of progress and momentum, particularly in civil society, towards resolving the Cyprus problem. With the peace plan still on the table, we need to work together on the best ways to maintain this momentum to achieve a peaceful and just settlement."
The WCC delegation includes Weiderud and International Affairs programme executive Salpy Eskdijian. Meetings are planned with HE Mr Demetrius Christofias, president of the House of Representatives, other key government officials and political party leaders, as well as with UN special representative to Cyprus HE Mr Zbigniew Wlosowicz, and the head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Cyprus HE Ambassador Adriaan Van Der Meer.
The WCC executive committee statement on Cyprus can be found at: http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/exco03-cyprus.html
By Albert H. Lee