General Bishop visited first time the mission UNFICYP in Cyprus

In the last week of April visited the Cyprus General Bishop ECAC in Slovakia Miloš Klátik, chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Slovak Republic, together with General Priest of the Ecumenical Pastoral Service Marian Bodolló. After arrival to the Larnaca they were moved to the Nicosia, where was planned the most part of their program.

First day delegation from Slovakia was accepted by Bishop Gregorias, representative of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus. It was the first meeting in the history and was in very friendly atmosphere and understanding. After the officially part of the meeting Bishop Gregorias invited the delegation in the Museum of the Orthodox Church. Pleasant surprise for us was, when we beside the icon and relic, saw in museum one group of children. They were sitting on the floor and listening teacher. Bishop Gregorians explained to us, that it is a standard teaching method to got to know the history of the Church and formed the relation to the Church. In the Museum have dignified place photos from 1950s to 1970s when the president of the united Cyprus was Archbishop Makarios III.

Archbishop Makarios III. was elected bishop of Kition in 1948 and archbishop of Cyprus in 1950. Leader of the Greek Cypriots in the movement for enosis (union with Greece), he was exiled by the British in 1956 on charges of encouraging terrorism. In 1958 he begins to press for Cypriot independence from Great Britain rather than union with Greece. When an agreement is reached on the independence of Cyprus, he is elected president. First President when Britain granted the island independence in 1959. In his three terms (1959-1977), he survived four assassination attempts and a 1974 coup. He pursues a neutralist policy, favoring a peaceful solution between the island's Greek and Turkish communities. He died in 1977.

Afternoon delegation was moved to UNPA (United Nations Protected Area) in Nicosia, headquarter of the units of United Nations Organisation (UNO), where were accepted by Chief of Staff Operations UNFICYP colonel British Army Tim Willdish. He appreciated, that representatives of the civil sector, especially church dignitary, have lively interest about regime of the unit sending country. He said, that it operates encouragingly and it can be also a good example for other civil components.

On the second day were General Bishop and General Priest accepted by Ambassador of Slovak Republic in Nicosia Oksana Tomová. Ambassador together with his deputy introduced delegation the contribution of Slovakia to bicommunity dialogue between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Deputy of Ambassador Róbert Chatrnúch detailed described the history of Cyprus, and mainly conflict, which can not be solved despite numerous resolutions of the UNO.

Third day was delegation shifted to the turkish part of the island into the Sector 4, to Famagusta. There is situated Camp Štefánik, where together with Slovak soldiers serve Hungarian and Serbian soldiers and one observe from Ukraine. General Bishop saw the whole camp and he was familiar with the work and activities of our soldiers. He saw their accommodation spaces and workshops and chapel, which serves not only for soldiers but also for students from local university.

Their 4th day started very early in the morning, 3:30a.m., because April 25th is called Anzac Day, when the members of United Kingdom and Northern Ireland on the whole world remember this day on the fallen in World War I. Early in the morning at sunrise and with poignant sound of bagpipes representatives of diplomatic corps laid a wreaths at the grave of fallen soldiers. During the ceremony General Bishop read the text from The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians and he granted the Aaron´s blessing. After the ceremony was General Bishop acquainted with Major General Kristin Lund, the Force Commander of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. The day was ended by sightseeing on Troodos.

We thank the Ministry of Defense Slovak Republic and especially Ing. Jindřich Joch and his team for perfect organization of visit the slovak delegation and also Tomáš Huďa, not only for accompanied the delegation but also for the interpretation of history visited places.

Marian Bodolló, General Priest in Ecumenical Pastoral Service of the Armed Forces Slovak Republic  | 28.4.2015

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Grafické spracovanie:Ladislav Menyhart