An agreement on the Imposition of Restrictions on Imports for Categories of Archaeological and Ethnological Material of the Republic of Cyprus was signed on Tuesday by the Republic of Cyprus and the USA, according to a statement of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works, Stavros Michael, and, on behalf of the Government of the United States of America, by the US Ambassador to Cyprus, Judith Garber.
In his speech, read on his behalf by the Permanent Secretary, the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, Yiannis Karousos, conveyed the sincere appreciation of the Government of Cyprus to the competent US authorities for their ongoing efforts for the protection of the cultural heritage of Cyprus.
According to the Ministry’s statement, the Minister stressed that the commitment of the USA to contribute to the protection of the rich cultural heritage of Cyprus is proved through the Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries, which has been in force since 2002. We are particularly pleased, he added, that our request for renewal and expansion of this cooperation was accepted by the USA, and now includes in it cultural objects dating from the 11th millennium BC to items up to 100 years old.
“Unfortunately, Cyprus and its cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, continue to face the catastrophic consequences of the Turkish military invasion of 1974 and the occupation of about 1/3 of the island since then. The monitoring of online auctions confirms that Cypriot cultural objects circulate in legal and illegal antiquities markets and at auctions around the world, including the USA, and are highly sought after. Even in the areas under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, the looting continues despite the intense efforts to suppress it”, he underlined.
As Karousos explained, the implementation of international Agreements, such as the 1970 UNESCO Treaty, the strengthening of national legislation, as well as the conclusion of bilateral international Treaties, are at the heart of the Cypriot Government’s policies in the fight against illegal circulation of the cultural heritage of our country. In this context, the Minister thanked the United States Government for its support, saying that the United States is a valuable ally in the actions of Cyprus to end the illegal trafficking of cultural heritage objects, the Ministry’s statement stressed.
On her part, the US Ambassador to Cyprus expressed her satisfaction with the signing of the Agreement, through which the two countries have the opportunity to continue their joint struggle for the protection of the cultural heritage of Cyprus. The Ministry’s statement said that Garber noted that the current agreement is one of the many examples of cooperation between the two countries based on the common principles they represent.
In this context, she referred to the sponsorship given earlier this year by the USA to the United Nations Development Program in Cyprus, for the implementation of an educational program for children from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the importance of the protection of the country’s cultural heritage.
In addition, professionals from Cyprus, the USA and Greece held a joint training seminar last month, focusing on ways to identify stolen cultural objects. In the coming months, the United States will support the actions of the Republic of Cyprus for the repatriation of Cypriot antiquities by the United States, the Ambassador said.
As the Ambassador pointed out, the United States of America recognize the value and importance of antiquities as an integral part of our past. For this reason, and respecting the principles of international law, the United States stand resolutely against those who illegally exploit its cultural heritage, thus preserving it for future generations.
The fight against the illegal trafficking of antiquities is a great challenge, said the US Ambassador, stressing, however, the determination of the two Governments to continue the joint effort, in order to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of Cyprus.
According to the statement of the Ministry, the signing ceremony took place symbolically at the Cyprus Museum, a place where some of the most representative Cypriot antiquities are hosted.
Source: Cyprus News Agency