In the Cypriot territories occupied by the Turkish military since 1974 there have been ongoing violations of religious freedom, which is guaranteed by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It has become extremely difficult for the Orthodox and Maronite Christians on the Karpass peninsula to practice their faith. In particular, Bishop Christoforos has been included on a stop-list whereby he is prohibited from entering the occupied territories within his diocese. Other priests were prevented from celebrating Easter.
We condemn the policy of the Turkish government involving the transfer of Turkish nationals into the illegally controlled territories, which is de facto tantamount to a policy of ethnic cleansing against the Christians, running counter to the will of the Turkish-Cypriots themselves who are in favour of peaceful coexistence. We draw attention to the deterioration of the Christian historical heritage, subjected to ongoing acts of vandalism and wilful damage.
We urge the Turkish government, which has been showing commendable attitudes in other areas, to comply with the binding criteria established by the Council of Europe with respect to religious freedom.