The importance of promoting the identity and culture of Cyprus was stressed on Friday by Cyprus President, Nikos Christodoulides, who also highlighted the risks arising due to the Turkish invasion and continued occupation of the island to do with the maintenance of the country’s monuments and the preservation of its cultural heritage.
Addressing the proceedings of the 4th International Conference of Byzantine and Medieval Studies, organised in Nicosia by the Byzantinist Society of Cyprus, he wished more engagement with unexplored aspects of the history and culture of Cyprus and the region.
In his address, which was delivered by the Minister of Education, Sports and Youth, Athena Michaelidou, President Christodoulides said that conferences make Cyprus and the wider Mediterranean region a centre of scientific interest and are a wonderful means of getting to know the historical course and the religious and cultural life of our country.
“At the same time, through the promotion of our identity and culture, the conference participants become aware of the problem we face due to the Turkish invasion and the ongoing occupation, something particularly important, since the dangers are obvious on many fronts, such as that of preserving our monuments and preserving our cultural heritage,’ he said.
Taking a look back at the long history of Cyprus, President Christodoulides said that “during all these years in Cyprus the arts and letters developed, the Christian faith spread and the spiritual life flourished, churches were built and monasteries, icons and mosaics were painted”.
He added that the fact that prominent and renowned university teachers and young scientists and researchers will be present at the Conference is ”remarkable”.
Furthermore, President Christodoulides congratulated the President and the members of the Board of Directors of the Byzantinist Society of Cyprus “for the promotion of research, teaching and dissemination of Byzantine and more broadly Medieval Studies in Cyprus and abroad, but also more generally for the possibilities opened up through the International Conferences they organise.”
Since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, hundreds of valuable artefacts have been stolen from the northern Turkish occupied areas of the island and found their way into the black market overseas. More than 500 churches have been pillaged, destroyed or turned into museum, inns or silos. Many archaeological sites and other places belonging to the country’s 9,000 year old cultural heritage have been abandoned to the elements.
The Church of Cyprus has, at different times, managed to secure the return of stolen religious items, illegally stolen and sold on the black market abroad.
Source: Cyprus News Agency