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European Parliament to report on state of churches in Turkish-occupied Cyprus
2006-09-14 11:16:02

Brussels, Sep 12 -- The European Parliament's Committee of Education and Culture has unanimously decided to write a report on the state of the churches in the Turkish-occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus.

The Committee took the decision today by unanimously adopting an amendment submitted by Cypriot MEP Panayiotis Demetriou (EPP).

Mr. Demetriou suggested that the 2007 EU budget allocates funds in order to carry out an investigation into the situation of the occupied churches of Cyprus.

The funding should be allocated from the European programme ''Culture 2007''.

The report will aim at recording and describing the current state of the churches and giving an estimation of the reparation cost, while special provisions will be included for those churches that are facing an immediate danger of collapsing.

The adopted amendment is expected to be approved at the European Parliament's plenary session in October.

Four-hundred-and-seven MEPs signed in July a written declaration prepared by Demetriou and Italian MEP Iles Braghetto, condemning the pillage of Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries and the removal of their ecclesiastical items.

The declaration 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.

It also called on the Commission and the Council to examine this matter under the relevant chapters of the negotiations with Turkey.

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.

Their ecclesiastical items, including more than 15,000 icons, have been illegally removed and their location remains unknown.

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