Members of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage visited on Friday the castle in Turkish occupied Kyrenia to look into the conditions in which Greek Orthodox icons and other religious artefacts are stored there, after the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.
Greek Cypriot Head of the Technical Committee, Takis Hadjidemetriou, told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the icons and other artefacts are generally in good condition, adding however that a climate-control system needs to be installed, as the temperature and humidity affect them.
Hadjidemetriou said that the Committee will address the issue as a priority and will look into it during its meeting on Thursday, noting that they will have to secure funding for the installation of a climate-control system.
“The icons and artefacts we saw are in good condition,” he said, noting however that a system which will control the temperature and humidity needs to be installed.
Asked if the icons will need to be conserved, Hadjidemetriou said that they will be examined at a later stage one by one.
However, he noted that they were not able to see all the icons and artefacts today, adding that icons are stored in other places in the occupied areas of Cyprus as well.
As regards the possibility for the icons and religious artefacts to be returned to the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, Hadjidemetriou said that this issue is not part of the Committee’s mandate.
Responding to another question, he noted that many of the icons are not very old, and that he estimates that their number is close to 2000.
The 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the subsequent occupation of the island’s northern part, have taken a heavy toll on its cultural heritage.
According to the Department of Antiquities, 197 ancient monuments in the occupied part of the island were registered prior to 1974, based on the Cyprus Antiquities Law. The registration process was left incomplete for hundreds of other monuments and archaeological sites due to the Turkish invasion.
Museums in occupied Cyprus have been looted, ecclesiastical icons, frescoes and mosaics have been removed from churches and in many cases have been traced in Europe’s illegal antiquities trade markets and in auctions around the world.
(Cyprus News Agency)