An event was organised on Wednesday marking the completion of the conservation works at the Agios Georgios church in the Turkish occupied area of Famagusta.
The conservation project was implemented by UNDP and the Technical Committee of Cultural Heritage in the framework of the “Support to cultural heritage monuments of great importance for Cyprus”. The project was funded by the EU.
The event was addressed by Stefan Simosas, Head of Cooperation of the Cyprus Settlement Support of the European Commission and Jakhongir Khaydarov Head of UNDP Cyprus.
In his speech, Stefan Simosas said that the EU is very happy to support the preservation of cultural heritage in Cyprus.
“We are working very closely with the Technical Committee for Cultural Heritage. This is a very important partner for us and another very important partner for us in this respect is UNDP Cyprus who is always the entity implementing our projects on cultural heritage,” he said.
He added that it is a teamwork adding that it is a pleasure to see the involvement of the communities in these projects.
Furthermore, he noted that the EU not only supports cultural heritage but also supports peace and reconciliation on the island.
Simosas said that the EU spent around 25 million euro throughout the years on preserving the cultural heritage in Cyprus and has restored 130 monuments.
“This is a work that still has to continue, but we have come quite a long way already. So we are very happy to continue with these efforts in the future as well,” he concluded.
Jakhongir Khaydarov thanked the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage and the EU for funding this project and the UNDP team for implementing it.
“I think it’s a very important milestone that we achieved. It shows how the shared cultural heritage can be preserved on the island and it’s a good message for the future generation for existing coexistence and peace on this island is paramount” he said.
He added that it is a “very good message to the rest of the world when we see the issues regionally, the crisis that is happening around the region, in the world.”
Cypriots, he said, show their resilience as an example to the world.
“They can coexist regardless of any issues, political etc. dimensions. They can show that people to people contact is most important and I think for an island like Cyprus, that survives throughout the centuries with different historical moments. I think it’s a good message that they can show to the rest of the world that this peace and community of resilience, joint coexistence is the basics for any development,” he concluded.
According to a UNDP announcement, Sotos Ktoris, Technical Committee of Cultural Heritage (TCCH) Greek Cypriot Co-Chair stated that “the efforts of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage highlights a fundamental principle: the necessity to respect the sanctity of Cyprus’s religious monuments and the need to preserve, and respect the heritage of each of Cyprus’s communities. It is crucial to display unwavering respect towards the religious monuments of every community, acknowledging that they are not merely places of worship but also vessels of our collective memory, vessels which bear unassailable testimony to the history and the multicultural identity of Cyprus.”
From his part, Ali Tuncay, TCCH Turkish Cypriot Co-Chair highlighted that “it is our common responsibility to preserve our shared heritage, not only for ourselves and humanity, but for the next generations to come. They are priceless assets of our island and mankind. I believe that the cultural heritage is an important tool to develop the most needed confidence, mutual respect, trust and cooperation between the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Therefore, it is our common responsibility to respect and protect this rich cultural heritage.”
The TCCH has received €35.6 million invested by several donors to implement the priorities of the Technical Committee for the preservation of the island-wide cultural heritage of Cyprus. The project is co-funded by local donors with the financial support by the European Union and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, the announcement concludes.