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Cypriot Minister condemns destruction of cultural heritage November 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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Cypriot Minister of Education and Culture Akis Cleanthous has condemned the destruction of the historical monuments in the Turkish occupied and military controlled areas of Cyprus.

Speaking at the 34rth General Conference of UNESCO, in Paris, Cleanthous said that “today, due to the military occupation, our government does not have access to these sites and monuments, leaving them at the mercy of nature’s elements or worse, at risk of being deliberately destroyed”.

The Cypriot Minster noted that through the ratification in 1979 of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970) and the ratification, in 2001, of the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1999), “our government is trying to re-gain access to the archaeological sites and monuments that are in the occupied area in northern Cyprus”.

“There are numerous examples of illegal archaeological excavations as well as trafficking of masterpieces such as Byzantine icons, mosaics, frescoes and other priceless antiquities”, he added. He also said that the archaeological sites and monuments of Cyprus are on the World Heritage list as well as on the European Heritage Label list. “We have achieved high standards in conservation of cultural properties as evidenced by the restoration of the medieval fortifications of Nicosia and a number of churches, mosques, water mills, olive-presses, bridges and houses of traditional architecture”, he added.

As regards the Cyprus problem, the Cypriot Minister said that the Cypriot government is committed to the final settlement of the Cyprus problem. “We constantly trying to find a solution and we hope that through the mutual efforts of both communities in the island we can set an example of peace and reconciliation in order to build new and harmonious relations”, he pointed out.

Referring to the field of culture, Cleanthous said that Cyprus has ratified the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and has set a new strategy, which aims to ensure that the right conditions are present for cultural diversity in Cyprus to flourish and to enhance the status of cultural industries as a significant source of revenue and jobs.

Concluding, he reminded that Cyprus had hosted the first UNESCO Euro-Mediterranean Youth Forum on “Young People and the Dialogue among Civilizations, Cultures, and People” in November 2006, bringing together young delegates from 34 countries from Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

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