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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Cyprus is not a free-for-all for immigrants, says Church leader ]

Cyprus is not a free-for-all for immigrants, says Church leader

Author: 
Elias Hazou

IT MAY just be the Yuletide Spirit, but Archbishop Chrysostomos was on a roll yesterday, branding illegal immigrants as ‘interlopers’ who do not belong on the island.
The straight-talking Prelate made the hard-hitting remarks after being asked to clarify an interview with online publication Kathimerini, published over the Christmas weekend, in which he admitted to espousing many of the ideas of the nationalist group ELAM (National People’s Front).
In that interview, the head of the Cyprus Church said he was ‘against’ illegal immigrants, but denied rumoured financial and/or other links to ELAM.
The ELAM website, which affords considerable coverage to the Archbishop’s public statements, has reprinted most of the interview.
Chrysostomos stuck to his guns yesterday, saying:
“Yes, I agree with ELAM with regard to the illegal immigrants. Our country and its people are facing many problems as it is, and we don’t need these people [illegal immigrants]. “The country is not a free-for-all,” he added.
“They are interlopers, they have entered Cyprus illegally, and the laws must be enforced. The government must be strict,” said Chrysostomos.
But he did not condone violence, the top cleric qualified.
He was speaking to newsmen during a visit to the Paphos General Hospital, where Chrysostomos handed out gifts to children.
The Prelate was grabbing most of the news headlines over the festive weekend. In addition to his ELAM comments, Chrsysostomos took flak for his Christmas message. In it, he warned that Cypriot Hellenism was being “smothered and soon no power will be able to rescue it.”
He had gone on to accuse Greek Cypriot quarters of absolving Turkey for the 1974 invasion and of making concessions in ongoing peace negotiations, and urged the public to “turn to God” in order to avert a “bad” solution.
In response, the government spokesman released a statement voicing regret for the Archbishop’s message.
“We expected, especially from the Church, a message that would convey love and reconciliation,” the statement said.
“Unfortunately…the message was not limited to this, but expanded into stating political views in a manner that sows the seeds of discord and provokes disputes among us.”
Similar censure came from AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou.
Responding yesterday, the irrepressible Archbishop shrugged off the criticism:
“In Cyprus, there is freedom of speech and one can say whatever they want. My comments were not divisive, and I challenge anyone who thinks that to substantiate it.”
The Prelate denied meddling in political affairs, saying: “Mr. Andros Kyprianou is the leader of a party, whereas I consider the whole nation to be my flock.”
And he had a bit of advice for the AKEL government: “They should be patient, listen to the truths, and better themselves.”

 



(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.



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