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Project July 13, 2023

Reconciliation in Cyprus Through Religious Peacebuilding



A fresco depicts Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead at the Church of Saint Nicholas of the Roof, an 11th century Byzantine monastery located in Kakopetria, Cyprus. Image by Elene Chkhaidze. Cyprus, 2023.

Cyprus remains a divided island, with the UN buffer zone serving as a physical reminder of the separation between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities along ethnic, religious, and linguistic lines. While the conflict in Cyprus is an ethnic one, religion has become a victim of the conflict with hundreds of thousands of displaced populations from both sides leaving behind their former places of worship. 

As rich as Cyprus is in heritage, religious monuments have been severely endangered following the 1974 Turkish invasion. Monuments are subject to negligence, ruin, and even intentional vandalism. Moreover, after the island’s de facto split, religious leaders from Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities have been stripped of any opportunity for mutual interactions and collaboration.

By focusing on the often overlooked religious dimension of the conflict in Cyprus, this project hopes to shed light on how religious peace building can help pave the way for a united Cyprus.

Several organizations, such as the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage and the United Nations Development Programme, are currently working on restoring the religious heritage of Cyprus. The Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process concerns itself with establishing the inter-faith dialogue between religious leaders on issues of human rights.