Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu emphasized that in the territory of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Greeks would not be allowed to exploit religious freedom in the name of delivering political messages.
Stating that they would not prevent religious services, and that a number of churches have been permitted to hold religious ceremonies, Ertuğruloğlu said, however, that “If religious ceremony issue causes a problem, this is because their requests for religious ceremonies have been exploited and they are being used political purposes.”
Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu made statements regarding the Greek Cypriots not being allowed to hold religious ceremonies in Gazimağusa Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu stated that the Government is considering parameters at the request of Greek Cypriots to hold religious ceremonies within the territory of the TRNC, and to grant permission accordingly. Within this framework, Ertuğruloğlu stated, however, that they did not give permission to hold religious ceremonies in Ay Ikserino Church in Gazimağusa.
Ertuğruloğlu also made clear that the Turkish Cypriot Government does not prevent freedom of religion and belief, but tries to prevent religion from being used in politics.
Stating that accusations towards them on this issue are not correct, Ertuğruloğlu stressed that the Government will not allow Greek Cypriots to abuse religious freedoms in order to deliver political messages within the territory of the TRNC. He added that three churches have been earmarked for holding religious services without restrictions, but that they have not approved requests to hold religious ceremonies in every church.
“After the decision on religious ceremonies, a priest visited me. I supposed that he would complain on this issue however he did not mention. I asked himself if he has any complaint regarding the issue but he had no complaint” said Ertuğruloğlu.
Stating that the purpose of the Greek Cypriots is to give the message that the TRNC is Greek Cypriot territory, Ertuğruloğlu said that some people feel uncomfortable with holding religious ceremonies in the Ay Ikserino Church. As religious ceremonies also cause some troubles in terms of security, Ertuğruloğlu said that they do not have to accept every request in this regard.
Ertuğruloğlu noted that that there are also some restrictions regarding holding religious ceremonies in Hala Sultan, but that no one mentioned this issue.
Turning to the resumption of the negotiation process, Ertuğruloğlu said that he did not believe that the Enosis decision was completely eliminated. Ertuğruloğlu stated that while the Greek Cypriot Parliament’s Enosis decision is understood by many to have been overturned, he did not understand how people have interpreted this to be the case. He pointed out that the only change has been the transfer of decision-making authority from Parliament to the Greek Cypriot Ministry of Education.
Ertuğruloğlu stressed that the Turkish Cypriot people have been misinformed on the issue of Enosis decision.