Council of Europe’s “Strategy 21” unveiled in Limassol

The “European Cultural Heritage Strategy for the 21st Century” was unveiled on Thursday, during a conference in Limassol, in an effort to promote diversity and highlight the contribution of cultural heritage in the sustainable development of Council of Europe member states.

Also known as “Strategy 21”, the action plan redefines the place and role of cultural heritage in Europe and provides guidelines to promote good governance and participation in heritage identification and management.

The two-day event is organized by the Council of Europe, in cooperation with the Town Planning and Housing Department of Cyprus Ministry of Interior, in the framework of the Cypriot Chairmanship of the Council of Europe. Participants include senior policy makers and relevant stakeholders in the member states.

The Strategy is based on CoE basic principles, such as democracy, respect for human rights, transparency, human dignity, respect for diversity, and extends in three pillars. These include the social pillar, economic development and education.

Regardless of the severe economic crisis of recent years, funding for heritage has not suffered a big extent of budget restrictions, Minister of Interior Socrates Hasicos told participants.

In his address, delivered by the Director of Special Service for The Care and Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons (YMAPE) and Acting District Officer of Kyrenia, Andreas Louka, Hasicos said that “the Republic of Cyprus places heritage preservation high on its agenda”.

Heritage needs investment to flourish, but also generates income, the Minister added. He said moreover that the protection, preservation and promotion of cultural heritage in the political, social and economic level, is seen as necessary not only for the preservation of cultural identity and collective memory, but also for the rational and sustainable development of our country.

Providing examples from Cyprus, Hasicos said that the state ensures the protection of cultural heritage through legislation and supports and promotes the rehabilitation of the built heritage through generous subsidies, provided to owners by the funding schemes for listed buildings and ancient monuments.

“The state provides the tools and means for heritage protection. The real actors, however, are the communities, the private owners, the public” he underlined.

Welcoming conference participants in Limassol, Hasicos said finally that the aim of the event is to present heritage trends and call on member states to cooperate, in order to achieve common goals.

Limassol Mayor Nicos Nicolaides underlined from his part the role of local authorities in preserving cultural heritage, saying that “Strategy 21” highlights local involvement in these issues.

This is not an easy task, Nicolaided went on, adding that it necessitates continued support in human and financial resources, follow-up activities and awareness raising among the public.

The even was also addressed by Eladio Fernandez Galiano, Head of the Culture, Nature and Heritage Department of the Council of Europe and Athena Aristotelous Cleridou, Director of the Department of Town Planning and Housing. The second day of the conference continues on Friday in the villages of Omodos and Vouni, in the Limassol district.

Source: Cyprus News Agency