Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot members of the Technical Committee for Cultural Heritage gathered in the Buffer Zone on Wednesday together with the European Commission and the UNDP, to present the result of their ten-year effort in preserving the island’s cultural heritage.
The work is depicted in a new brochure that reflects the collective effort of all parties in the last decade.
Approximately 20 million euros were invested for the preservation of the island’s cultural heritage, 14.7 million of EU funding, 2.5 million from the Church of Cyprus, 2.5 million from EVKAF and 150 thousand euros from other donors.
Greek Cypriot representative Takis Hadjidemetriou was absent from the press conference due to health reasons. Speaking on behalf of the Greek Cypriot representative, Glafkos Constantinides said that the publication reflects the work that has been done, with 50 projects completed and ten more in the pipeline.
He also said the committee works with one voice and now knows how to tackle obstacles.
Turkish Cypriot representative Ali Tuncay reminded that the Committee started its long journey ten years ago and learned to work together by creating an environment of mutual trust and cooperation following a long and cumbersome process. It has proved to be a platform for cooperation, he said, adding “the more we cooperate the more success stories will emerge from this island.”
He also praised the members of the Committee, the Advisory Board and UNDP, noting that it demonstrates that “if we really want, we can make things happen for the good of the island.”
However, he said that although in the last ten years they have faced a lot of difficulties and challenges, they are also aware that “we are racing against time and trying to save the monuments that cannot wait for the settlement of the Cyprus problem.”
He also said that the work of the Committee has taught them that they can only be efficient in cases where they have cooperated. “We as the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, have established peace with the historical monuments of this geography. It is now time for all the other to make peace with the historical monuments of this geography.”
Tuncay stressed that “the sustainable protection of the monuments on this island can be found only with the comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem.”
Speaking on behalf of the European Commission, Kjartan Bjornsson said that the most important achievement was to have the two communities working together sharing a vision and attaining objectives.
This was not easy, he added, but now it is clear that the two communities can work together and can agree on sensitive issues.
Tiziana Zennaro, UNDP Senior Program Manager described the Technical Committee a “unique Cypriot experience envisioned by the leaders of the two communities ten years ago.”
She said that in Cyprus, in the past years these projects brought together hundreds of Cypriots as well as students from both communities, adding that this is a “tangible example of the important role cultural heritage can play in reinforcing a shared identity and contributing to peace.
While the 2015 edition had only 20 pages, the 2018 has 80 and includes photos and stories from 31 heritage sites island wide, including Orthodox, Maronite and Armenian churches, mosques and minarets, fortifications, hammams, aqueducts and watermills that were conserved, structurally supported, physically protected or restored with the support of the EU. [Kathimerini Cyprus]