European Parliament Committee hears proposals to save Cypriot cultural heritage
Brussels, Apr 11 - The European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education has heard a series of proposals for the protection of the cultural heritage of Cyprus.
The initiative for this week’s public hearing came after a visit of a Committee delegation to Cyprus in June 2006, during which the MEPs were briefed on the destruction of Cyprus' cultural heritage as a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion and continued occupation.
The aim of the public hearing was to show the dereliction, destruction and depredation of the historical monuments in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus and to seek ways to protect and elevate the island's cultural heritage through the joint efforts of the two communities on the island.
The most important of the proposals was submitted by MEP of the European People's Doris Pack, who suggested the adoption of a resolution which will call upon the German presidency of the EU to intervene so that Germany returns the cultural treasure stolen from 46 churches in the Turkish occupied areas by looter Aydin Dikman.
German historian Klaus Gallas said the implementation of a decision by the German courts was still pending regarding the return of the stolen icons, and called on the Committee to intervene in the direction of the German presidency for the repatriation of 40 crates of heirlooms currently in Munich.
American journalist Michael Jansen accused Ankara of cultural catharsis and British MP Edward O'Hara called for immediate action on behalf of the European Parliament in order to avert the transformation of monasteries in the occupied areas into hotels.
Cypriot professor Vassos Karayiorgis said there was still time to intervene in order to salvage the cultural heritage of Cyprus, and accused the University of Ankara of illegal excavations in Turkish occupied Salamis.