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Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus Hosts Lecture by Mr. Thomas R. Kline
2009-03-12 11:38:51

Washington, Feb 25 - The Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus welcomed Mr. Thomas R. Kline, Partner of Andrews Kurth LLP in Washington DC and lecturer at George Washington University for a presentation. Mr. Kline’s lecture entitled “From the Kanakaria Mosaics Case to the Present: Twenty Years of Protecting Cyprus’ Cultural Heritage” discussed the lawsuit filed by the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus for the recovery of mosaics from the Church of Panagia Kanakaria which is now in the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus. The four Byzantine mosaics that were at the center of the lawsuit are dated to the 6th century C.E. They were finally returned to Cyprus in 1991. As a member of the legal team which represented the Church of Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus in their effort to recover the mosaics, Mr. Kline is a leading expert both in the Kanakaria case and in the broader issues surrounding the ownership of cultural property.

By way of introduction, Ambassador Kakouris discussed Cyprus’ cultural heritage and the efforts made by the government of the Republic of Cyprus as well as the Church of Cyprus for the recovery of artifacts that have been illegally exported. He also spoke about the Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U.) between Cyprus and the United States government and its great importance to the Republic of Cyprus’ efforts to prevent the illegal acquisition of cultural property.

Mr. Kline discussed the fate of the Kanakaria mosaics from the time they were looted in 1979 to their acquisition by American art collector Peg Goldberg. Mr. Kline then focused on aspects of the lawsuit including the issues of “due diligence” as well as the claim of the so-called “TRNC” that the mosaics had been “nationalized”. He described some of the challenges faced by experts trying to determine rightful ownership of artifacts whose provenance may not be well documented and discussed the relevance to the lawsuit of UNESCO Agreements and the 1983 Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act.

Mr. Kline concluded his presentation by referring to the diligence shown by the Church of Cyprus and the government of the Republic of Cyprus in pursuing the Kanakaria mosaics and underlined the significance of the case itself. He stated that Cyprus’ pursuit of its cultural property is a model example. He suggested that antiquities might be best protected by MOU Agreements with the United States government and, furthermore, discussed recent efforts by the Association of Art Museum Directors and the American Association of Museums to ensure the legality of museum acquisitions. Following his presentation, Mr. Kline responded to a number of questions from the audience regarding the nature of the legal process in recovering artifacts and the role of UN and MOU Agreements.

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