Hearing at the State Department and seminars regarding the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Republic of Cyprus and the United States concerning the imposition of Import Restrictions on Pre-Classical and Classical Archaeological Objects and Byzantine Period Ecclesiastical and Ritual Material
PRESS RELEASE - Friday, January 20, 2012
A public and a private hearing took place on January 20, 2012 before the Cultural Protection Advisory Committee (CPAC) at the Department of State, regarding the request put forward by the Republic of Cyprus for the renewal of the MoU between the Republic of Cyprus and the United States concerning the imposition of Import Restrictions on Pre-Classical and Classical Archaeological Objects and Byzantine Period Ecclesiastical and Ritual Material. The current MoU, which also covers ancient Cypriot coins, was last renewed in 2007 and is set to expire in July 2012.
At the public hearing, the Committee had the opportunity to consider and weigh into arguments for the renewal of the MoU which were predominantly voiced by distinguished archeologists and other academics, while at the private hearing which followed, the Cypriot delegation comprising of the Director of the Antiquities Department, Dr. Maria Hadjicosti, the Attorney of the Republic of Cyprus (Law Office of the Republic), Mrs. Stella Ioannides and Superintendent Dr. Panayiotis Nicolaides (Cyprus Police), as well as the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S., Mr. Pavlos Anastasiades who acted as the Head of the Delegation, presented the Committee with the official request and argumentation for the renewal of the MoU. The MoU is viewed as an important instrument in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts and for the protection of Cyprus’ rich cultural heritage which continues to remain under threat given in particular the continuing foreign occupation of a large part of the island.
The Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus also organized two events, comprising of a lecture by Dr. Hadjiicostis entitled “Combating the illicit trafficking of antiquities: the case of Cyprus”, which took place on January 17, 2012, at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and the panel discussion “Looting on Cyprus: A Precious Cultural Heritage in Peril” which was hosted at the George Washington University on January 18, 2012 in cooperation with CAARI and the GWU Capitol Archaeological Institute. At both events, the speakers highlighted the importance of preserving the cultural heritage of Cyprus, while presenting the threats facing it and proposing ways of coping with these threats. Particular emphasis was placed on the illicit movement of cultural artifacts originating from the occupied territories of the Republic and the extensive destruction that the archaeological, religious and cultural heritage of Cyprus has suffered since the Turkish invasion of 1974.