Conservation works, scheduled to begin soon at Archangelos Michael church in the Turkish occupied village of Lefkoniko, were presented during gatherings of the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, the European Commission and the UNDP.

A UNDP statement said two informative events were held to present the upcoming conservation works at Archangelos Michael Church.

Conservation works to the church will last eight months and cost approx. 390,000 Euro, fully funded by the European Union`s Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community.

“The sustainability of our cultural heritage conservation projects largely relies on local communities’ support, and on their sense of shared responsibility, which we believe is built through an inclusive, participatory approach. Here at Archangelos Michael church, we found a very positive and cooperative atmosphere that I am sure will accompany us throughout the implementation of the project”, explained Tiziana Zennaro from UNDP in Cyprus.

European Commission sources have said they were “very pleased to work in partnership with the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage and with UNDP in the conservation of the common Cypriot cultural heritage”.

Members of the Technical committee, Greek Cypriots Takis Hadjidemetriou and Glafkos Constantinides said that “getting in touch with monuments of history and culture helps people experience living history, engage in genuine human relationships, and deepen mutual understanding” and ‘the work of the Technical Committee is ultimately about people’.

Turkish Cypriot member, Ali Tuncay clarified that “as the TCCH, we are not just spending on the stones. Through our work, we are investing in cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and cultural understanding. The extensive interest of both communities to the monument is a clear indication that it is also regarded as the common richness of humanity.”

“The church of Archangelos Michael is not only for the religious people, it is an important point of reference for all the residents of the village and the renovation means a lot for everyone” echoed Greek Cypriot Andreas Ioannides.

“We want only good things happening in our village and the renovation of the church can only bring good”, commented Fatma Dervish a Turkish Cypriot resident of the village who attended the informative event on November 1st.

The church will undergo a major structural consolidation. Inside the church, frescoes and the carved woodwork will be stabilised and preserved by a specialised conservator. Externally, the portico roof will be reconstructed and the old school building consolidated and protected. The yard and the perimeter wall will be upgraded and improved. Other conservation works will include the cleaning of dressed stone surfaces, and removal and reconstruction of the existing roof, doors and windows.

Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. UN-led peace talks are underway to reunite the country under a federal roof. Various bicommunal committees have been set up to deal with matters relating to their competencies, such as cultural heritage, culture and education.

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