Tree of Peace in Cyprus

In 2024, Servare et Manere implemented the international initiative Tree of Peace in Cyprus, as well. The 35th symbolic peace sapling: Strom pokoja / Tree of Peace / Δέντρο της ειρήνης / Barış ağacı  was planted at the Ledra Palace Hotel in the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of dialogue between Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot political parties. The hotel is the place of monthly bicommunal meetings of currently (2024) 17 political parties facilitated by the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Nicosia.

The event was held under the auspices of the Slovak Ambassador, H.E. Martin Bezák in the presence of the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, H.E. Juraj Blanár and the Secretary-General of Servare et Manere, Mr. Marek Sobola. The event was among others attended by H.E. Annita Demetriou, President of the House of Representatives in her capacity of the President of Democratic Rally (DISY), the major Greek-Gypriot political party. Representatives of foreign diplomatic missions, the Mayor of Nicosia Turkish Municipality, Mr. Mehmet Harmanci, and representatives of political parties involved in the bicommunal dialogue also participated in this festive event. As part of the Tree of Peace planting, speeches were given by the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, H.E. Juraj Blanár, Acting Head of the UN Good Offices in Cyprus, Ms. Sherry Holbrook, and Mr. Marek Sobola, the founder of the Tree of Peace initiative.

In his speech, H.E. Juraj Blanár stated that it was a great honour for him to attend this event, and the symbolic planting of the “peace sapling” in Nicosia “sent a powerful signal of peace not only to Cyprus but to all humanity.” Representing the United Nations, Ms. Sherry Holbrook passed to the participants the congratulatory message of the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General in Cyprus, Ms. María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, and the UN Secretary-General Special Representative and Head of the the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Mr. Colin Stewart  who couldn´t be present at the event. Mr. Marek Sobola said: “It is our special honour that our international initiative has been chosen today as one of the symbols of dialogue in this beautiful island. We are very happy if we can actively contribute to bringing people together. Let this beautiful tree also remind us of friendship and understanding.”

The partners of the Tree of Peace planting project in Cyprus were the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Nicosia and the UNFICYP. The sponsors of the project were Slovak Honorary Consul in Limassol, Mr. Angelos Gregoriades, and Cypriot Honorary Consul in Banská Bystrica, Mr. Štefan Rosina.

Servare et Manere is a Slovak non-governmental and non-profit association based in Žilina, Slovakia. In the summer of 2022, Servare et Manere was granted a Special consultative status with the UN ECOSOC. The organization was originally founded to promote cultural and historical monuments in Slovakia, including their restoration and reconstruction. Since 2018, following the establishment of the international Tree of Peace initiative, the main role of Servare et Manere is to support activities related to the development of peace and friendship at the international and domestic levels. The Tree of Peace initiative is aimed at the preservation of the memory of the historical heritage, fostering ideas of peace and friendship among the nations, and spreading an ecological message by planting trees as a symbol of peace. The main goal of the project is to promote a message of peace and interfaith dialogue. So far (May 2024), 35 Trees of Peace in 21 countries on 4 continents have been planted. This Tree of understanding and friendship among nations represents Slovakia under the official state brand “GOOD IDEA SLOVAKIA – IDEAS FROM SLOVAKIA” and is implemented with the support of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic.

Our most important expedition so far was the Oceania Peace Journey in 2022, where we visited several countries and made excellent connections with the local communities. At the same time, we contributed to spreading awareness about the fragile biodiversity of their ecosystems. The Tree of Peace initiative joins together two important issues of our time, the first being peace and the second the climate crisis. You can find more information about the Tree of Peace project at this link.

Photo authors: Kristína Spišáková and Sgt Murray Kerr