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24 June, 2024
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Preserving Cyprus' cultural heritage is a bicommunal effort

The Bicommunal Technical Committee's ongoing mission to safeguard and celebrate the island's rich history

Apostolos Kouroupakis

Apostolos Kouroupakis

With great determination and love for the culture of Cyprus, the bi-communal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage has been preserving more than 120 monuments throughout Cyprus since 2008. Their ongoing efforts aim to save even more, as all members, irrespective of their community or the nature of the monument—whether Greek or Turkish, Ottoman/Muslim, Christian, Frankish, Venetian, archaeological, mill, or aqueduct—all share the same concern: to highlight the cultural heritage of the island in the best possible way.

Whether the monument belongs to one community or another, the focus is on its restoration, protection, and promotion. Every monument in this sweet land of Cyprus is significant to the committee and its members. The discussion remains unchanged, whether the monument to be saved is a mosque, church, archaeological site, mill, or aqueduct. As long as there is time to save and showcase it, various groups, consisting of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, engage in harmonious and constructive discussions, far from political agendas and biases.

If only this example of cooperation by the committee could be managed in every aspect of the Cyprus issue, I am certain that many of the extreme voices heard from both sides of the ceasefire line would have fallen silent. In a place with so many traumatic experiences in its past, all that is needed in this uncertain period, where nothing is stable, are voices of moderation and seriousness. Recognizing that stability and serious consultation are tools that must be utilized so that future generations do not experience worse ordeals, as the previous ones did.

The past, the historical past, is now a fait accompli; no force can change it. It is up to each individual not to forget, just as it is up to them to want to take some steps forward, even acknowledging the mistakes of the past. Certainly, it is not easy, especially for all those thousands of Cypriots who suffered before and after the summer of 1974. Those whose lives were changed overnight by the invasion.

I am by no means claiming that someone should forget the tragedy that happened; after all, I do not have that right. The sense of injustice neither expires nor can it be the subject of discussion. However, it is useful for one to understand the value of envisioning a brighter future, and this can be achieved through a renegotiation of the present.

This, I believe, is what the bi-communal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage is doing—reconsidering the present with the past as its main axis to envision the future. The 120 or more monuments they have saved speak to the island's present, with the goal of being witnesses to our common heritage in the future. No monument is disconnected from the history of the land; no monument dons foreign mantles. Instead, together, they form a unified cultural canvas of Cyprus rich in colors, scents, and micro-histories.

And this, in my opinion, is one of the many values of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage: the promotion of an intriguing historical mosaic composed of many different and diverse pieces.

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  culture

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