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European Parliament condemns destruction of Cyprus' religious heritage
2006-07-07 11:54:17

Nicosia, Jul 7 -- The European Parliament adopted a written declaration on the protection and preservation of the religious heritage in the northern part of Cyprus, which has been occupied by Turkey since 1974.

The written declaration by Cypriot MEP Panayiotis Demetriou and Italian MEP Iles Braghetto which was signed by another 407 MEPs, condemned the pillage of Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries and the removal of their ecclesiastical items.

It also called on the Commission and the Council to take the necessary actions to ensure respect for the Treaty and the protection and restoration of the affected churches to their original Greek Orthodox status, to examine this matter under the relevant chapters of the negotiations with Turkey and instructed its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories.

According to the declaration, more than 133 churches, chapels and monasteries that are located in the northern part of Cyprus controlled by the Turkish army since 1974 have been desecrated, 78 churches have been converted into mosques, 28 are used as military depots and hospitals and 13 are used as stockyards, and their ecclesiastical items, including more than 15,000 icons, have been illegally removed and their location remains unknown.

Speaking at a press conference in Nicosia, Mr. Demetriou said that the importance of this written declaration is mainly cultural as it aims at the protection of Cyprus religious heritage which is mainly consisted of churches, icons and other ecclesiastical items, but also a political one as it has drawn the attention of the members of the European Parliament towards the invasion and occupation of Cyprus and its consequences.

The basic consequences are known and include the destruction of our cultural religious heritage, he added.

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