234 Ford House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-6460
Hon. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin, Co-Chairman
Media Contact: Neil Simon
July 21, 2009


Briefing: Cyprus’ Religious Cultural Heritage in Peril

WASHINGTON—Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), announced today the U.S. Helsinki Commission will hold a briefing on:

Cyprus’ Religious Cultural Heritage in Peril

When: 2 p.m., Tuesday, July 21

Where: Room B318, Rayburn House Office Building

The 35-year-long artificial division of Cyprus has taken a tremendous toll on the lives of the people of that country. Despite clear international commitments on the importance of preserving religious and cultural heritage, hundreds of churches, chapels and monasteries in the northern part of Cyprus remain in peril. Thousands of icons, manuscripts, frescos, and mosaics have been looted from sites in northern Cyprus -- many ending up on international auction blocks.

Panelists are to include:

Dr. Charalampos Chotzakoglou, Professor of Byzantine Art and Archaeology, Hellenic Open University and Museum of Kykkos Monastery; author of Religious Monuments in Turkish-Occupied Cyprus: Evidence and Acts of Continuous Destruction.”

Dr. Klaus Gallas, Art Historian and Byzantine expert who has focused on international smuggling of religious and architectural artifacts plundered from northern Cyprus.

Michael Jansen, author of “War and Cultural Heritage: Cyprus after the 1974 Turkish Invasion.”

A report prepared by the Law Library of Congress, “Destruction of Cultural Property in the Northern Part of Cyprus and Violations of International Law” will be released at the briefing.




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Chairman Chris Smith and the OSCE ODIHR Director Michael Georg Link shake hands at the Winter Meeting of the OSCE PA in Vienna, Austria. (Feb. 2015)