Armenians hold mass in Turkish Cyprus, a first in 50 years
NICOSIA – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoThe Armenian community on Cyprus has held a mass in an Armenian Church on the Turkish side of the island, for the first time in 50 years.
Armenians from the northern and southern parts of the island met in the church located in Nicosia for the mass.
Archbishop Varoujan Hergelian performed the mass, which was attended by approximately 500 people from the Armenian community.
The service was also attended by Lisa Buttenheim, the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, Şevket Alemdar, the imam of the Hala Sultan Mosque on the island, and a number of diplomats.
“I graduated from the schools near the church. These places were home to us. We are home now,” one of the participants of the service, Gora Terziyan, told Anadolu Agency.
She expressed hope that such steps would contribute to the ongoing peace process on the divided island.
Another participant, Gula Kasabiyan, said being able to hold the service for the first time in half a century was evidence that the issues between the two sides of the island could be settled. “We should always look beyond for peace,” she said.
The Armenian Church hosting the historic rite was allocated to the Armenian population of the island during the Ottoman era. However, it was abandoned by Armenians in 1964. The church subsequently fell into ruin, but was renovated in 2010.
The Mediterranean island has been divided since Turkish troops intervened in 1974 in response to a Greek Cypriot coup seeking union with Greece.
The Greek Cypriot administration is a member of the European Union and is internationally recognized with the exception of Turkey, which is the only country that recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the north.