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2009

Cyprus’ Religious Cultural Heritage in Peril

Members

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Hon. Benjamin Cardin

Chairman

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

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Hon. Christopher Smith

Ranking Minority Member

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

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Hon. Mike McIntyre

Commissioner

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Witnesses

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Dr. Charalampos Chotzakoglou

Professor of Byzantine Art and Archaeology

Hellenic Open University and Museum of Kykkos Monastery

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Dr. Klaus Gallas

Art Historian and Byzantine expert

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Ms. Michael Jansen

Author of “War and Cultural Heritage: Cyprus after the 1974 Turkish Invasion”

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Law Library of Congress Report

This briefing, moderated by Ronald J. McNamara, International Policy Director of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, was part and parcel of the CSCE’s ongoing efforts to assess implementation of OSCE commitments by participating states. Likewise, member states of the OSCE had acknowledged the important contribution of religious faiths, institutions, and organizations to cultural heritage and committed themselves “to cooperate closely with such groups regarding the preservation of the cultural heritage, paying due attention to monuments and objects of religious origin whose original communities no longer use them or no longer exist in the particular region.”

The latter portion of this quote was particularly applicable to the situation in northern Cyprus, whose circumstances vastly differed from southern Cyprus. More specifically, in the latter, scores of mosques and other Islamic places of worship had been maintained by the Cypriot Government. Because the government was lacking in this respect in the northern part of the country, this hindered the north’s preservation of religious cultural heritage. Consequently, attention was focused on the scope of the damage and destruction to Cyprus’ rich religious cultural heritage in the north of the country.

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