TCs, GCs join forces to protect Monastery of St Panteleimonas
GREEK Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot volunteers on Thursday joined forces to protect and preserve the Monastery of St Panteleimonas in Çamlıbel, which was vandalised only two years after it was restored.
In November Turkish Cypriot daily Kıbrıs Postasi reported that vandals broke the entrance doors and window panes of the monastery, damaged its fencing and painted non-political graffiti on the walls.
The community clean-up event was organised within the framework of the “Caring for our Cultural Heritage” initiative and attended by the representatives of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, the European Commission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
UNDP Cyprus programme manager, Tiziana Zennaro told the participants that the monastery was proudly conserved in 2016 mainly with the support of the EU.
“As you know there have been some challenges with the maintenance and despite all effort, there is still a lot to be done,” she said.
“We are fully aware that the real work of protecting and preserving cultural heritage starts after the work has been completed. And our message is: ‘it is time for all of us to work together, to raise awareness for protecting and preserving cultural heritage as a shared responsibility’ and this is why we are all here today.”
Ambra di Nuzzo, programme manager at the European Commission reminded that bicommunal teams took part in all phases of the conservation work while hundreds of Cypriots from both communities visited the site.
“Now the site is trying once again to pass a message. We all share the responsibility for conserving our cultural heritage in our environment. The EC can spend more millions of euros, the UNDP can support for many years the work of the Technical Committee but ultimately it is up to the whole community, to keep our cultural heritage beautiful as it is”.
The Turkish Cypriot head of the Technical Committee, Ali Tuncay, said the committee was aware that the responsibility is tremendous and its efforts aim at saving monuments throughout the island.
“We will not leave this monument alone. We will not let this monument be part of the blame game or to be used for political purposes,” he said.
“Ayios Panteleimonas Monastery is our common heritage. and we are dedicated to protect and maintain it.”
Mr Tuncay thanked the villagers, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who came to help clean up the monastery and who pledged to protect it.
Speaking on behalf of the Greek Cypriot representative, Glafcos Constantinides praised the significance of Ayios Panteleimonas “as it is valued by all Cypriots and beyond”.
“It is now time for Cypriots, all those who share this appreciation for this monument, to make sure it is protected and respected,” Mr Constantinides said.
Volunteers cleaning the Monastery of St Panteleimonas on Thursday