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EU commits €2.5 million for Cyprus cultural heritage preservation

cultural com
File photo: Members of the bicommunal technical committee on cultural heritage

The European Commission has signed a new delegation agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (Undp), providing an additional financial assistance of €2.5 million to support the work of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage for the years 2024-2026.

In an announcement, the Commission said the new agreement would contribute to the EU’s efforts to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus “by protecting, restoring and preserving the rich cultural heritage of the island”.

Since 2012, the European Union has been a major contributor to the committee’s work, with a total contribution of €27.5 million to date, “demonstrating the strong commitment of the European Union to confidence building and reconciliation efforts in Cyprus”.

Through a long-standing partnership with the Undp, the committee has restored and conserved more than 130 cultural heritage sites across the island.

The Commission said the 9th phase of the overall project would continue to involve the younger generations in the work of the committee, through the Heritage Youth Ambassadors initiative aiming at building the next generation of custodians for Cyprus’ shared cultural heritage.

The ‘Digital Preservation and Online Accessibility of Cultural Heritage’ through digitisation of restored and conserved sites would continue during this phase with additional virtual tours and 3D reconstructions, the Commission said.

The technical committee on cultural heritage has arguably been the most successful of the 12 set up in 2008 to address the everyday concerns of both communities.

In his recent reports on Cyprus UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres described the committee as

“an indispensable vehicle for interaction and cooperation between the sides on issues of importance and for creating a better atmosphere towards a possible resumption of talks”.

Guterres said the activities of certain committees were negatively impacted by the political environment and dynamics on the island during last year’s reporting period but overall, the majority of the technical committees maintained the same regularity of meetings as in the previous reporting period, he said.

“The Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage continued to work actively,” he said, adding that following informal consultations, the implementation of projects fully resumed and

the committee finalized the conservation works of several important sites, including the church in Agios Georgios/Aygun, the Arsenal/Canbulat Bastion in Famagusta and the mosque in Kalo Chorio/Vuda.

“In the continued absence of formal negotiations, the work of the technical committees remains essential as one of the only mechanisms for direct contact between the sides on issues of mutual concern. It remains crucial that the committees are shielded from the political dynamics,” Guterres said.

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