Chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions Cecilia Wikstrom said on Monday that Europe needs to take further action to protect Cyprus’ cultural heritage in the north of the island.
She was addressing an event in parliament marking the European Year of Cultural Heritage, which included a photography exhibition titled ‘Cyprus: A European culture in peril’.
Wikstrom pointed out that “the destruction of the cultural heritage in Cyprus is therefore an extremely serious and important issue.
“Hundreds – and I have seen this – hundreds of churches, monasteries are being vandalised, desecrated, demolished during the past forty plus years.”
As a Christian and a fellow human being, she said, “it breaks my heart to see these monuments being torn down.”
She added: “We can no longer be bystanders and just watch as European history is erased right in front of our eyes. Enough is enough.”
Protecting the cultural heritage of Cyprus is not only a matter for the people of Cyprus, as it affects the entire European community, she stressed.
For his part, House Speaker Demetris Syllouris said the photo exhibition demonstrated the scale of the destruction of Cypriot cultural heritage in the north.
“Through research, the exchange of good practices and the promotion of synergies between relevant actors, in the context of this initiative for the protection of cultural heritage the EU aspires not just to act as the protector of this heritage but also to showcase it as an element of European identity, a key ingredient of which is diversity, since it is constituted by all the different national traditions,” Syllouris said.
Unfortunately, he went on, due to conflict and the illicit trade in antiquities important cultural work is in danger of being destroyed or it has already been destroyed.