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Media Watch 2004

14 May 2004
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Lonias Efthyvoulos
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 14 May 2004.
EU must warn Turkey over heritage crime
"...the EU Parliament must also be reminded of a resolution it adopted in 1988, which called on the Council of Ministers to warn Turkey that it must respect international agreements on the protection of the European cultural heritage in Cyprus as a necessary step to ensure its progress towards joing the EU... scores of vandalised churches and the destruction of other cultural treasures in the occupied north, as well as a long list of the numerous international agreements violated by Turkey..."

Turkey must comply with a European Parliament demand to respect international agreements by ceasing to vandalise Cyprus’ cultural heritage, if it wants to join the EU, Diko MP Antigone Papadopoulou told the House yesterday.

“In December when Turkey will once again knock on the door of Europe, it is our duty to emerge from our deliberate coma and remind the international community and civilised Europe of the cultural crimes committed by Turkey against Cyprus,’’ Papadopoulou said.

She said the EU Parliament must also be reminded of a resolution it adopted in 1988, which called on the Council of Ministers to warn Turkey that it must respect international agreements on the protection of the European cultural heritage in Cyprus as a necessary step to ensure its progress towards joing the EU.

This blunt six-year-old warning has been ignored as Turkey has been moving steadily closer toward her EU objective with the expectation of being granted an entry date for the opening of accession negotiations in December.

Papadopoulou, who is also the Mayor of Morphou in the occupied north, went on to list the scores of vandalised churches and the destruction of other cultural treasures in the occupied north, as well as a long list of the numerous international agreements violated by Turkey.

Stressing that listing the damage is extremely painful Papadopoulou pointed out that:
-133 churches and monasteries have been desecrated
- 77 churches have been converted into mosques
-18 churches have been converted into hostels or hospitals for the occupation army
- 13 churches are used as pens for animals or for storing hay
- 1 church has been converted into a hotel and another has been leased to a Briton for use as a fine arts school – Private collections of items of archeological value were looted.
- Antiquities, frescoes, mosaics, and other sacred items have become goods for receivers of stolen goods, antiquities robbers, grave robbers and merchants
Papadopoulou points out that, “the lack of respect by the occupation regime is a clear fact, and also that no effect has been achieved by protests.
She then lists the international accords and agreements disregarded in violation of justice, democracy and civilisation. They include:
- The European Agreement for Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, together with its protocols
- The European Agreement on Protection of Archaeological Heritage
-The European Agreement on Protection of European Archaeological Heritage
- The Hague Agreement of 1954 on protection of cultural heritage during armed clashes.
- Violation of regulations of the 1970 UNESCO agreement on the prohibition, violation, and illegal exportation and transfer of cultural items

In 1988 the European Parliament called on the Council of Ministers to take steps in order to pass on to the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot authorities the need to protect the Cypriot cultural heritage and called upon Turkey to respect and enforce international laws and agreements and respect the European cultural heritage if it wants to pursue its course towards Europe.

Papadopoulou concluded her address declaring that Cyprus accession to the EU poses a challenge for the protection and enrichment of our culture and civilisation, and the need for their preservation “as a shield protecting the survival of our people and our society.”"