The Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage (TCCH) is a Cypriot organism created in 2008 by Greek and Turkish Cypriots to establish a dialogue between communities in the name of cultural heritage under the auspicious of the UN. Today, the TCCH, together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in conflict areas (ALIPH), an international organisation based in Switzerland, have launched the restoration of two major sites : the St. George of the Latins church in Famagusta and Tuzla Mosque in Larnaca.
ALIPH has allocated $840,335 (grant co-funded by the European Union) for the works that will be pursued by UNDP and TCCH in the first joint action of the three institutions. The restoration of the two sites represents a significant event peace building initiative in a fractured intercultural context and has been celebrated with an event in Nicosia.
UNDP has a ten-year history of positive outcomes in carrying out initiatives on cultural heritage between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, with over 100 projects efficiently delivered since 2010.
“ALIPH’s substantive support to the work of the Technical Committee empowers our uninterrupted effort to promote intercultural understanding, reconciliation and mutual respect amongst Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.” stated Sotos Ktoris, Greek-Cypriot TCCH Co-Chair
Ali Tuncay, Turkish-Cypriot TCCH Co-Chair, agrees with Ktoris and since all cultural sites in Cyprus “are our shared heritage and richness”.
“We acknowledge the responsibility and duty of preserving and sustaining this richness and hand them over to future generations.”
This last statement sounds emblematic as, originally, Tuzla Mosque was a church erected on the foundations of a basilica that eventually got converted into a mosque during the Ottoman period while Saint George of the Latins is one of the oldest Gothic churches in Famagusta which is now under Turkish administration.
Valéry Freland, ALIPH Executive Director, praised the initiative and stated: “Protecting this heritage is a key pillar in building a culture of peace, understanding, cooperation, and dialogue.”
Prakas Nikolaos, Swiss foundation donates funds to conserve mediaeval church and mosque, 24/10/2022, The Cyprus Mail
UNDP deal to restore Cyprus church, mosque, 25/10/2022, The Financial Mirror