Antiquities department staff staged a one-hour work stoppage on Wednesday to protest against plans which could see the division of responsibility on cultural heritage to the two constituent states in the case of a solution to the Cyprus problem.
The work stoppage took place between 8am and 9am in front of the archaeological museum. Demonstrators protested the fact that the antiquities department will be integrated into the yet-to-be established deputy ministry of culture, which would lead to the division of antiquities between the two communities in case of a federal solution.
“Antiquities in Cyprus have always been a state affair,” Efstathios Raptou, the archaeological officer of the antiquities department told the media during the protest.
“The culture of a country with a history of 11,000 years, which has always been in creative dialogue and fruitful interaction with all neighbouring cultures, cannot and is not meant to be fragmented and divided into individual parts.
“So, imagine that archaeological sites such as Salamina and Apostolos Andreas will in future be managed exclusively by a corresponding antiquities department in the north,” he said.
Raptou said that when the bill on the establishment of a deputy ministry of culture was made public, concerns among the antiquities department intensified, “as it became clear that the newly established deputy ministry would only have responsibilities for cultural issues within the Greek Cypriot community.”
He also noted that the antiquities department was systematically kept out of the consultations and the drafting of the bill.
“We believe that this development will lead the island’s archaeological heritage and its management into dangerous paths, since it creates ambiguities that may create serious problems with unforeseen consequences,” Raptou concluded.