UNDP: Conservation projects in Cyprus encourage communities to get involved in promoting heritage

Conservation projects across the island are led by the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage – an advisory board composed of archaeologists, architects, art historians and town planners from both communities and their initiatives have encouraged thousands of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to get involved in promoting heritage around the island, UNDP has said.

UNDP, the United Nations Development Program, on the occasion of the World Heritage Day, has uploaded on its website a publishing on restored sites in Cyprus and Kosovo. It is noted that as communities rediscover their rich past, their encounters are helping to bridge divisions, restoring a sense of common identity and through it, a sense of peace and trust.

On Cyprus , UNDP notes that in 2009, with funding from the European Union, the Programs officials began to work on a study of cultural heritage in Cyprus and the trip paved the way for many more years of fruitful work.

In the past 5 years alone, weve implemented 72 different initiatives, which include the conservation of churches, mosques and other landmark buildings, it adds.

The publishing refers to Shakespeares famous Othello tower, originally built in the 14th century and the restoration in 2015 when eight actors from the island’s two communities brought the play to life on site in front of an audience of 300 people.

The Greek Cypriot actors said they were overwhelmed with awe to be part of the project, more than 50 years since the last performance. More recently, another major landmark – the Apostolos Andreas Monastery – got a much needed upgrade. For a long time, the monastery has been a place of pilgrimage for Cypriots. Its now also a beloved spot for many visiting the island. Now, thanks to a restoration project led by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, it is set to become a symbol of peace and co-operation., UNDP underlines on its website.

According to UNDP, support to the committee for cultural heritage is a cornerstone of the European Unions support to reconciliation and confidence building in Cyprus. Since 2012, it is added, their projects have received 11.7 million euros from the EU.

Initiatives have also drawn support from other donors, including the Church of Cyprus and the EVKAF administration, amounting to more than 16 million euros in total. Of course, cultural heritage is not only about restoring life into buildings – its also about breathing new life into communities. Thats why, UNDP has also undertaken community development, urban upgrading and infrastructure initiatives, for example inaugurating the first Maronite cultural centre in the northern part of the island, and upgrading various village coffee houses, among others, the publishing says.

Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. UN-backed peace talks are currently underway to find a negotiated settlement that would reunite Cyprus under a federal roof.

Source: Cyprus News Agency