The bi-communal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage is one of the committees that produces, through the cooperation of its members, a remarkable project, which was recently acknowledged by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in his reference to the Good Services Report. . Despite the stagnation of the last years in the talks for the solution of the Cyprus problem, and especially after the beginning of the pandemic of the new coronavirus, this Commission -in 2020- has contributed through concrete actions in the rescue of important monuments that constitute the common cultural and cultural wealth of our place.
Despite the difficulties, the E / K co-chair of the committee Takis Hatzidimitriou, speaking to “P”, stated that “the Technical Committee, with the support of UNDP and its director Titiana Gennaro, mobilized the means and possibilities that modern technology offers for monitoring of projects and promoting the procedures required “.
How did the pandemic affect the work of the committee?
The closure of roadblocks and the coronavirus deprived us of three key elements of our work. First, personal contact, conversation, the ability to exchange views and provide explanations, which no other medium can replace. Secondly, the possibility of informal meetings, which many times proved to be absolutely necessary for the successful confrontation of difficult or complex problems and, thirdly, the possibility of visiting the construction sites of both the Advisory Board, which includes experts on various issues, and members of the Technical Who have overall responsibility for maintenance projects. However, personal contacts and on-site visits are irreplaceable. Nevertheless, the Technical Committee, with the support of UNDP and its director Titiana Gennaro, mobilized the tools and capabilities that modern technology offers to monitor projects and advance the processes required. The meetings of the Technical Committee, as well as our consultations with the UNDP, continued uninterrupted through teleconferences from the summer onwards in meetings at the House of Cooperation until the last traffic ban. We are currently in contact, exchanging views and making decisions by teleconferencing. Regular are the meetings of the Technical Committee with the participation of a representative of the office of the Special Representative of the secretary general. the United Nations, the Advisory Board, as well as other joint meetings with the UNDP and the European Union, which is also the main sponsor of the projects.
Gennaro is leaving
What other problems do you have?
Our work is in a transitional stage until they find their normal pace due to changes that occur within the Technical Committee, as well as the departure, due to retirement, of UNDP Director Ticiana Gennaro, who was the driving force of our entire effort. Titiana Gennaro contributed significantly to the implementation of the decisions of the Technical Committee. He worked tirelessly, with devotion and love for the place and the preservation of about a hundred monuments of our cultural heritage. He moved in the minefield of the Cyprus problem with ability and flexibility and contributed, to a large extent, to the solution of many problems. Cyprus owes her a lot. The state should have recognized its offer. But it is never too late. This can be done now.
Friendships and collaborations
As it is unknown when the roadblocks will open, what are the commission's plans for 2021?
The work of the Technical Committee and the Advisory Body continues through teleconferences. We hope that after the lifting of the traffic ban measures and when the roadblocks are reopened, our way of working will be normalized. Our work, after all, is implemented with joint teams of E / K and T / C, experts and thinkers. In the workplaces, groups of E / K and T / K conservators are formed again, where the special cases require it. Let us not forget that cultural works are directly related to the people, the history and the tradition of the place. They also contribute to mutual understanding and mutual respect. We can note with satisfaction that in many cases we realized that friendships and collaborations are being created for the benefit of the monuments themselves, but also of the place in general. The works of culture are based on coexistence, common goals and peace.
The projects of 2020
What projects did you complete as a committee last year?
The works are many and they all have their own meaning. About fifteen monuments were completed in the midst of a pandemic. These are: Panagia of Assia, Agios Artemon in Aphania / Ornithi, Agios Sergios and Bacchus in Agios Sergios, Archangel Michael in Gialousa, Agios Andronikos in Kythraia, Three Fountains in the walls of Nicosia, clearing of vegetation between Moula and Rokka bastions and Quirini bastion that had collapsed, support of churches on the green line of Nicosia, Agios Georgios and Agios Iakovos, urgent intervention of Agios Georgios in Vatili, Caravan, urgent support of Agia Anastasia bell tower in Lapithos.
Which of the projects completed last year stands out and for what reasons?
Naturally, all monuments have their history and significance, each for a different reason. Some, of course, are loaded with heavy heritage, monumental and religious.
The maintenance that took place in the Archangel Michael in Gialousa, with self-financing of the people of Gialousa, in Panagia of Assia, in Agios Artemonas in Aphania, the two churches in the green line of Nicosia, the maintenance of the walls of Nicosia stand out. Important was the preservation in the churches of the Archangel Michael, Saints Sergius and Bacchus and the Virgin of Assia, which date from the Byzantine Era and retain, much less others, frescoes or inscriptions of historical and artistic value. For obvious reasons, the support of the two churches on the green line with a history of many centuries is of particular importance.
Which projects are on hold and which will start?
In the last few days, important projects have been completed. Afendrika and its neighboring ruined churches, of Agios Georgios and Asomatos. All are monuments of the 6th century. Another important project that was recently completed is the protection of the mosaics of Agios Eulalios in Karavas. Maintenance works are completed in two ottoman fountains in Kyrenia. In the spring of 2021, the mosaics in Salamina take over. Maintenance works are planned in Panagia Kanakaria, Panagia tis Kyra and Agios Georgios Avlonas. The process for the start of other projects, from the area of Morphou to Karpasia, is in the final stage. Some are in the bidding stage and will be announced as soon as the contracts are signed. In Famagusta, cave covering works are expected to begin soon in the area of the Martinego bastion. Within 2021 we hope to have a first estimate for the castle of Kyrenia. In Larnaca, maintenance works are planned in the Zuhouri mosque and the Ottoman baths of Tuzla, as well as in the neighboring Venetian fountain. It is hoped that the issue of finding a contractor for the Orunda mosque will be resolved soon. The mosques in Kalo Chorio, Maroni and Lefkara are at an advanced stage of studies, as well as for others in the provinces of Limassol and Paphos. The landscaping of cemeteries in Mantria and Gypsou has been completed. Urgent works are being promoted soon, such as the fencing of the Agia Paraskevi area in Famagusta and the damage to the wall of Agios Ioannis the Baptist in Argaki.
And their funding?
The main sponsor of the Technical Committee is the European Union. The contributions of the communities for the churches of their villages are also touching. We should also add the significant contribution of the Republic of Cyprus in the last two years.
Cooperation is possible
In the Good Services report of the secretary general The United Nations has made special reference to the work of the committee. How much does this report strengthen your effort?
This report is an indication of the UN interest in the preservation of the cultural monuments of Cyprus. At the same time, however, the fact is emphasized that the cooperation between E / K and T / K is possible and can promote common goals for the benefit of the whole people and the place. Of course, the Cyprus problem is not solved through the works of culture, but these are the background on which the solution can be based, with mutual respect in a multicultural Cyprus. For more than half a century, the United Nations has been working to give us the opportunity for a new beginning. In this endeavor, culture is at the forefront.