An important Convention for the protection of cultural heritage was opened for signature in Nicosia on Friday as part of the Cyprus Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
The Convention is the result of the initiative of Cyprus and aims at boosting efforts to combat the trafficking of antiquities and cultural property.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Foreign Minister, Ioannis Kasoulides, stressed the importance of this Convention for the international community.
“Today, the international community takes a crucial leap forward in the protection of our cultural heritage, especially in the efforts to combat the trade in blood antiquities by transnational organized crime and terrorist networks,” the minister said.
The treaty was the only one dealing specifically with the criminalisation of the trafficking of cultural property.
“The Nicosia Convention, establishes a number of criminal offences, including theft; unlawful excavation, importation and exportation; illegal acquisition and placing on the market and other such activities,” the minister said.
It also promotes international cooperation in this field and in essence, the Convention will effectively enhance the international legal frameworks against cultural trafficking.
The protection of cultural heritage has been a priority for Cyprus, a priority pursued in the Human Rights Council and other fora, and during the Cyprus Chairmanship of the Council of Europe.
“I call on states to sign and ratify the Nicosia Convention as soon as possible; we have a collective responsibility to protect our cultural heritage and the heritage of mankind,” Kasoulides said.
The Nicosia Convention was signed by Cyprus, Armenia, Greece, Portugal, San Marino and Mexico, and is considered to be an important achievement for Cyprus.
The Convention will come in force after its ratification by the national parliaments of five states.