The teachings of the Buddha are eternal and his message of peace and non-violence is very relevant to the problems faced by modern society. Buddhism is the best gift that can be given by Sri Lanka to the world. These observations were made by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka addressing a large gathering of Sri Lankans in Nicosia, Cyprus assembled to felicitate Ven. Morawaka Soratha Thero, who has been recently appointed as the Mahanayaka of Cyprus by the Asgiriya Chapter. The ceremony was organized by the Buddhist Association of Cyprus.
The Prime Minister presented the letter of appointment as the Mahanayaka of Cyprus to the Ven. Thero in the presence of many learned Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka. The ceremony was held at the Russian Centre which is one of the largest halls in Nicosia. The hall was full to the brim by the devotees of the temple and Cypriot nationals who are friends and well wishers of the Lankaramaya in Nicosia. The devotees were all clad invite, in the national dress of Sri Lanka.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to Ven. Soratha for his contribution to the propagation of Dhamma by taking the initiative to establish a temple in Cyprus four years ago with the assistance of the Sri Lankan Community. The temple has become a spiritual centre for thousands of Sri Lakans employed in Cyprus who visit the temple on Sundays to receive guidance and blessings from the Ven. Thero.
The Prime Minister in his speech referred to the close relations existing between Sri Lanka and Cyprus. He said being two island nations the two countries shared many commonalities. Both countries were under the British colonial rule and after independence joined the Commonwealth. Sri Lanka and Cyprus were pioneers in the Non-Allgned movement. The first President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios and Sri Lanka s former Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike were among the leaders who took the initiative to establish the movement in the early 1960s. The Prime Minister recalled the visit of President Makarios to Sri Lanka in 1976 to attend the Non-Aligned Summit held in Colombo. The Prime Minister also mentioned that the two countries were faced with separatist movements.
Mr. Wickramanayaka called on the Sri Lankan community in Cyprus to protect and develop the Vihara as it was rendering a great service. While explaining the present situation in Sri Lanka, he said that the terrorists did not respect human values and therefore the Sri Lankan Government was compelled to take suitable action to eliminate terrorism and to restore peace. He assured the Sri Lankan Community that before long the country would be united under one umbrella and peace would be restored.
The most Ven. Dr. Welamitiyawe Kusala Dhamma Thero, Chancellor of the Kelaniya University and the most Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thero, Chief Priest of Kotte Naga Vihara delivered anusasana. These two erudite monks complimented the Prime Minister for his commitment to protect and promote Buddha Sasana. They mentioned that the visit of the Prime Minister to Cyprus to attend this ceremony was a historical event as it was the first time that a senior politician from Sri Lanka taking part in such an important Buddhist ceremony held abroad. They expressed the hope that the Prime Minister who took time to visit Cyprus despite his heavy schedule in Sri Lanka would continue to serve the Buddha Sasana with the same dedication in future as well.
Sri Lankas Ambassador in Italy Hemantha Warnakulasuriya, who is accredited to Cyprus as High Commissioner, and the Consul General of Sri Lanka in Cyprus Doros Jeropoulos also spoke.
The ceremony received wide publicity in the electronic media in Cyprus and three televisions gave a wide coverage.
The Prime Minister arrived on September 27 in Cyprus on a five day visit. On arrival at Larnaca Airport he was received by Mrs. Loanna Malliotis, Chief of Protocol of the Cyprus Ministry of foreign Affairs, Ambassador Warnakulasuriya and Mr. Jeropoulos.