NICOSIA–Cyprus (CNA)–The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has decided to examine the continuing destruction of the cultural and religious heritage in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus.
The move came after a series of official complaints by Cyprus’ Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe Thalia Petrides–at a time that the occupation regime threatened to turn an historic Armenian monastery in the north into a hotel.
Petrides told the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers Wednesday it would be unacceptable if Europe remained silent on the continuing destruction and looting of the island’s cultural–religious and historical treasures.
Especially at a time when Europe is launching a cultural heritage campaign–she remarked.
The Cypriot Ambassador went on to say that the cultural and religious heritage in the north were being deliberately and systematically destroyed.
She pointed out this was part of Turkey’s efforts to "eradicate the area’s character and anything that marks the island’s thousands of years of civilization–in order to prepare the occupied areas to be annexed by Turkey."
Petrides reminded the Committee of recent Turkish plans to turn the Saint Makar Armenian monastery–situated near Halefka on the occupied north Pentadaktylos range–into a hotel.
The monastery is a landmark holy place for the Cypriot Armenian community and Christianity in general.
She also referred to the case of Turkish dealer Aydin Dikmen who was recently arrested in Germany for illegal possession of religious and archaeological art treasures which had been stolen from Cyprus’ occupied north.
Petrides asked the Committee to condemn all these acts and demand that they are immediately terminated.
On his part–the Greek representative called for an international inquiry to assess the situation and prepare an action plan to help protect cultural heritage and restore it.
Despite Turkish reactions–the Committee decided to continue examining the issue in order to finalize action to be taken by the Council of Europe.
According to press reports–the Council of Europe Committee adopted a recommendation on how to promote the integrated conservation of historic complexes.
These recommendations could apply to churches and other religious or archaeological monumen’s in the occupied areas of Cyprus.