An agreement signed between Cyprus and Switzerland on the import and repatriation of cultural property between the two countries enters into force and covers Cypriot and Swiss antiquities dating from prehistoric times to 1500 AD comes into effect from Saturday.
An official statement on Friday said the agreement, signed on January 11, provides for the prohibition of the import of cultural property to the two states in cases where the regulations of the country of origin were not satisfied.
At the same time, it lays down the framework of cooperation on the repatriation of illegally exported cultural objects and it promotes scientific cooperation and archaeological exchanges between Cyprus and Switzerland.
The signing of the agreement, in conjunction with the Memoranda of Understanding concluded by Cyprus with other countries on the imposition of restrictions on the import of Cypriot antiquities to the said countries, constitutes an important step towards the protection of Cyprus’s cultural heritage.
It is also a step towards the prevention of illicit trafficking of cultural treasures in particular, which are the object of systematic pillage of our cultural heritage in the north of the island, the statement concluded.
Museums in the north have been looted and so have many private collections of antiquities. Churches have been vandalized; ecclesiastical icons and vessels stolen, church frescoes and mosaics have been removed and in many cases have been traced in Europe’s illegal antiquities trade markets and in auctions around the world.
The most serious and large-scale damage has been noted on churches in the north. Some of the churches have even been demolished, others pillaged and some are currently being used as stables, mosques or as part of military camps. (CNA)