Collective effort required to protect our cultural heritage in Cyprus’ Turkish-occupied areas, House President says

President of the House of Representatives Annita Demetriou said on Saturday that the attempt to misrepresent historical memory is a continuing policy on the part of Turkey, and one with visible effects in long-suffering Cyprus as well. It takes a collective effort to restore historic truth and to protect meaningfully all monuments, she noted. Demetriou was addressing the presentation of the volume “Hagia Sophia: The churches of the wisdom of God in history and in the world”, which took place in Limassol, on the sidelines of the Extended Session of the International Secretariat, of the Presidents and rapporteurs of the Committees of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). The volume published by IAO presents a total of 37 churches of the wisdom of God, including the two Cypriot churches of the same name in Nicosia and Paphos and highlights the issue of the conversion of Hagia Sophia of Constantinople into a mosque. Demetriou said that it was a valuable publication in response to Turkey’s lawless action to turn the most iconic Christian church into a mosque, and “an action and reaction to Turkish intolerance and religious fanaticism.” “The multilingual edition is an important mean of informing and raising awareness among the international audience about this universal and unique monument, Hagia Sophia, which is a common cultural heritage for all humanity,” she added. At the same time, the House President said that the attempt to misrepresent historical memory was a continuing policy of Turkey, with visible effects “in our long-suffering Cyprus” and that the cultural and religious monuments in the occupied part of the island were irrefutable witnesses of the Turkish intolerance. “Indeed, the opening of the closed city of Famagusta constitutes another shocking example of the violation of basic rights and the circumvention of fundamental international and European agreements”, she added. ‘For almost 50 years we have been watching with pain and agony the violation and destruction of our holy temples and monuments in our occupied homeland, Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol said in his speech at the event. As Metropolitan Athanasios pointed out, “all these tragic dramas are not just stories about distant places, but our daily traumas and painful experiences.” Head of the Cypriot parliament in the IAO, MP Panikos Leonidou, said that the goal of the publication was to highlight the spiritual unity of the Christian world and also of the European civilization. At the same time he said that the aim was to denounce everywhere the conversion of Hagia Sophia of Constantinople, the “eternal beacon of Orthodoxy”, into a mosque by the Turkish leadership. Addressing the event Mayor of Limassol Nicos Nicolaides said that Limassol, a city with a history of 4 thousand years, formed strong ties with Orthodoxy for centuries, after the passage of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas from the island. Secretary General of the International Secretariat of IAO, Maximos Charakopoulos, expressed his joy for the sincere, as he said, interest of the Cypriots in the issues of Christian, Orthodox identity, tradition and history. He also said that the issue of converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque was one of the main preoccupations of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy, which was trying to raise awareness among the international public audience, with events like this one in Limassol. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively. Varosha, the fenced off section of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, is often described as a ‘ghost town’, despite the UN Security Council resolution 789 (1992) urging that the area at present under the control of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus be extended to include Varosha, on October 8, 2020, the Turkish side opened part of the fenced area of Varosha, following an announcement made in Ankara. Both the UN Secretary-General and the EU expressed concern, while the UN Security Council called for the reversal of this course of action.

Source: Cyprus News Agency