Briefing :: Cyprus’ Religious Cultural Heritage in Peril

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BRIEFING


COMMISSION ON
SECURITY & COOPERATION IN EUROPE: 
U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION

BRIEFING: 
CYPRUS’ RELIGIOUS CULTURAL HERITAGE IN PERIL

WITNESSES:
DR. CHARALAMPOS CHOTZAKOGLOU, 
PROFESSOR OF BYZANTINE ART AND ARCHAEOLOGY, HELLENIC OPEN UNIVERSITY AND MUSEUM 
OF KYKKOS MONASTERY 

DR. KLAUS GALLAS, 
ART HISTORIAN AND BYZANTINE EXPERT

MICHAEL JANSEN, 
AUTHOR,
“WAR AND CULTURAL HERITAGE: 
CYPRUS AFTER THE 1974 TURKISH INVASION”

THE HEARING WAS HELD FROM 2:02 P.M. TO 3:02 P.M. IN B-318 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE 
BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C., [RONALD J. MCNAMARA, POLICY ADVISOR, CSCE], 
MODERATING 

TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2009



RONALD MCNAMARA:  Great, if you could take your seats, please.  Welcome to this 
briefing of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.  My name is 
Ron McNamara and I’ll be serving as the moderator for this afternoon’s briefing 
presentations.

At the outset, let me express apologies because the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee is having a business meeting right now which requires our chairman, 
Senator Cardin’s participation.  And then, as things go on Capitol Hill, the 
House of Representatives has scheduled the official photograph of the members 
of the 111th Congress to be taken just prior to the briefing.  So there may be 
a number of members and commission members coming in and out and we certainly 
will accommodate them when they appear.

I’m pleased to welcome you to this commission briefing on “Cyprus’ Religious 
Cultural Heritage in Peril.”  Today’s session is part of the commission’s 
ongoing efforts to assess implementation of OSCE commitments by participating 
states.  In 1991, those states gathered in Cracow, Poland, for the Symposium on 
the Cultural Heritage.  The document agreed to by all countries at that meeting 
included language particularly relevant to the issue before us this afternoon.

The OSCE acknowledged the important contribution of religious faiths, 
institutions and organizations to the cultural heritage and committed 
themselves to cooperate closely with such groups regarding the preservation of 
the cultural heritage, paying due attention to monuments and objects of 
religious origin whose original communities no longer use them or no longer 
exist in the particular region.

Given its particular applicability to the situation in northern Cyprus, I would 
repeat that last part of the text:  “whose original communities no longer use 
them or no longer exist in the particular region.”

In stark contrast to the situation in the North, which I recently had an 
opportunity to visit, scores of mosques and other Islamic places of worship are 
maintained by the Cypriot government in the southern part of the country.

Against this backdrop, the commission requested that the law Library of 
Congress prepare a report on relevant international law governing protection 
and preservation of religious cultural heritage.  We appreciate the assistance 
that was rendered by the library’s staff and I’m pleased to make that report 
available via the commission’s Web site.  So if you visit our Web site after 
the conclusion of the briefing and click on www.csce.gov you should be able to 
access that particular report prepared by the law Library of Congress.  As part 
of the commission’s investigation into these matters, I also, as I mentioned, 
had an opportunity to recently visit that part of Cyprus.  

Earlier this month, the OSCE parliamentary assembly adopted a series of 
resolutions by one of our commission members, Senator Wicker, that called upon 
all participating states: to implement their OSCE commitments and international 
obligations; to ensure the preservation and protection of religious cultural 
heritage sites including churches, chapels and monasteries as well as monuments 
and objects of religious origin; to prevent the theft, clandestine excavation 
and illicit export, import or transfer of ownership of cultural property; to 
enhance their cooperation in efforts to prevent the illicit international 
trafficking in objects of religious origin and other cultural property; and to 
facilitate the restitution of illicitly exported cultural property; to help us 
focus attention on the scope of the damage and destruction to Cyprus’ rich 
religious cultural heritage in the northern part of the country.

I’m pleased to introduce our panelists (sic) of experts this afternoon.  We’ll 
start with Ms. Michael Jansen, an author and veteran journalist who has written 
extensively on the destruction of cultural heritage in northern Cyprus.  She is 
the author of “War and Cultural Heritage: Cyprus after the 1974 Turkish 
Invasion.”

Next we’ll here from Dr. Chotzakoglou, professor of Byzantine art and 
archeology at the Hellenic Open University and the Museum of Kykkos Monastery.  
He is the author of, “Religious Monuments in Turkish-Occupied Cyprus:  Evidence 
and Acts of Continuous Destruction.”

And, finally, we will hear from Dr. Klaus Gallas, an art historian and 
Byzantine expert who has focused international attention on international art 
smuggling of icons and other religious and archeological artifacts plundered 
from northern Cyprus.

At the conclusion of the formal presentations and our briefing, I will invite 
members of the audience who are interested and have time to be present for the 
screening of an 18-minute video produced by Dr. Gallas entitled, “Where Heaven 
Falls Prey to Thieves.”  

Thank you for your presence this afternoon and I turn the floor over to Ms. 
Jansen.

MICHAEL JANSEN:  Thank you, Mr. McNamara.  I am very pleased to be here and 
very honored to speak to the Helsinki Commission.  The looting of Cyprus’ 
cultural heritage is not only a crime against Cyprus but a crime against 
humanity.  We all are diminished by cultural loss of any kind.  As a journalist 
based in the Eastern Mediterranean, I have seen a great deal of war, the 
scourge of the world’s cultural heritage. 

Indeed, we are just picking up the pieces of the wanton destruction of Europe’s 
heritage during World War II.  What has happened since Turkey occupied northern 
Cyprus 35 years ago has been even more dramatic than what took place in Europe. 
 

The devastation is comprehensive and has taken place in a small area.  
Churches, chapels, monasteries, libraries, museums and private collections of 
religious art and antiquities were looted.  Religious and historical sites have 
been damaged, ravaged and destroyed.  While the focus of this meeting is on the 
island’s religious heritage, this is rooted in 12,000 years of history which 
came before St. Paul and St. Barnabas brought Christianity to Cyprus.

The cleansing of religious and historical sites began as soon as Turkish troops 
set foot in northern Cyprus on July 20, 1974, and continues until today.  
Cultural cleansing proceeded in parallel with the ethnic cleansing of 162,000 
Greek Cypriots living in the area occupied by Turkey.  When the first phase of 
the cleansing process ended in 1976, 158,000 Greek Cypriots had been driven 
into the government-controlled south.  Pillage was both random and conducted by 
professional thieves and smugglers.  

While gathering material for my book, “War and Cultural Heritage,” I 
interviewed Dutch icon dealer Michel Van Rijn, who was in the North during July 
1974.  As he made his way to Nicosia along roads clogged with refugees, he saw 
Turkish soldiers throwing icons from looted churches onto burning pyres.  My 
husband, a correspondent for The Economist of London, visited the area in 
September 1974 and found that churches were open to both looters and vandals.  
Nothing had been done to secure the churches when I went there in February 
1975.  Looters not only ravaged art but also, in the process of plundering, 
destroyed religious buildings and archaeological sites.

During the second phase of the cultural cleansing of Cyprus, from 1977 through 
1979, the number of Greek Cypriots residing in the North was reduced from 3,600 
to 200 – 2,000, while specific treasures were targeted by local networks of 
icons and antiquities smugglers. 

The pillage was directed by Aydin Dikmen, a major Turkish black market dealer 
in Munich.  He had developed close connections with Turkish Cypriot looters and 
smugglers well before 1974.  The third phase began in 1980 and is ongoing.  
Today fewer than 500 Greek Cypriots, most of them elderly, remain in enclaves 
in the occupied North.

Theft continues from known and newly discovered archaeological sites and 
illegal excavations are being conducted by Turkish archaeologists.  Both church 
buildings and historical sites are falling into rack and ruin due to neglect or 
being exploited or bulldozed by developers. 

Turkey is directly responsible for whatever takes place in northern Cyprus.  
The cultural cleansing of the area could have been averted or curbed if Ankara 
had honored its signature on the 1954 Hague Convention for the protection of 
cultural heritage during war and occupation. But Turkey did not meet its 
commitments.

There were several opportunities for the international community to press 
Turkey to do so.  The first came in 1974, ’75, before looting had become 
widespread or focused on specific treasures.  In mid-September 1974, less than 
a month after the ceasefire, a Turkish team of experts visited northern Cyprus 
and recommended that an inventory be made of both archaeological and church 
treasures and that a senior archaeologist should be appointed to protect and 
preserve cultural property. 

In early October of that year, two experts from UNESCO toured sites in both 
north and south and found war damage was slight.  They called for the 
appointment of a counselor for cultural heritage to supervise conservation and 
restoration.  UNESCO sent Canadian scholar, Jacques Dalibard, to Cyprus in 
February 1975.  He concluded that the establishment – uh, sorry.  He concluded 
that Cyprus should be regarded as “one huge monument” and called for the 
establishment of a permanent presence in the North to supervise the protection 
and restoration of antiquities and churches.  

UNESCO suppressed the report, his life was threatened and nothing was done.  
Between 1982 and 1989, European initiatives provided fresh opportunities to 
halt depredation and destruction.  These were undertaken by a subcommittee of 
the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe and Europa Nostra.  The 
former dispatched a mission to Cyprus.  It reported that most of the damage has 
occurred in the North and is the result of looting evidently linked with a 
highly professional international market in illegally exported art.  Nothing 
was done.

An opportunity also presented itself in 1989.  This was the landmark trial in 
Indianapolis where a judge ordered a local art dealer to return to Cyprus four 
segments of an early 6th-century mosaic composition.  These had been stripped 
by Dikmen’s agents from a church in northern Cyprus. 

The judge awarded the mosaics to Cyprus on the ground that, quote, “a thief 
obtains no title or right of possession of stolen items,” unquote.  Therefore, 
quote, “a thief cannot pass on any right of ownership to subsequent 
purchasers,” unquote.  Nothing was done about Dikmen or continuing pillage and 
destruction of the cultural heritage of Cyprus.

An opportunity to put Dikmen out of business was presented to Germany in 1970 – 
1997 when the Munich police helped Van Rijn, poacher turned game keeper by this 
time, to mount a sting operation designed to return stolen icons and 
antiquities to Cyprus.  Dikmen’s hoard of 8,000 items was seized; hundreds of 
Cypriot artifacts were identified.  Dikmen was put in prison. 

He was released after a year and the treasures remain in Munich.  Turkey may 
not have set out to pillage and destroy the cultural heritage of northern 
Cyprus, but Ankara did set out to change the area’s identity.  Ankara cleansed 
the Greek Cypriots and erased the Hellenic character of the North by replacing 
Greek place names with Turkish names. 

Turkey also collaborated in the destruction of the North’s dominant Christian 
culture by allowing churches to collapse due to neglect or to be looted and to 
be used as cinemas, restaurants, store houses and goat pens

Hundreds of churches and chapels, frescoes and icons had survived in the North 
until the last quarter of the 20th century and provided spiritual uplift to 
local Christian communities.  Finally, I would like to suggest that the CSCE 
has some responsibility for the division and ethnic and cultural cleansing of 
Cyprus.  As the Helsinki Accord was being negotiated, the Greek military junta 
made a coup against the legitimate Cyprus government.  Turkey occupied more 
than 36 percent of island and Britain did nothing. 

These three countries were guarantors of the island’s independence and 
sovereignty.  The OSCE also did nothing.  The least the OSCE can do today is to 
press Ankara to halt the destruction of Christian sites and illegal 
archaeological excavations and stop traffic in icons and antiquities.  Turkey 
should also allow for the preservation and restoration of religious and 
cultural sites.  The OSCE should ensure that member states do not receive 
stolen Cypriot art and antiquities.  Thank you very much.

MR. MCNAMARA:  Thank you very much.  Our next speaker will be Dr. Chotzakoglou. 
 On the monitor to your right will be an ongoing slide presentation of images 
that he has brought for this afternoon’s briefing.

CHARALAMPOS CHOTZAKOGLOU:  I too would like to thank the Helsinki Commission 
for inviting me to testify on an issue which I believe is of great importance.  
Your decision to hold this briefing clearly indicates the seriousness and 
concern of the issue under discussion. 

Yesterday, in fact, marked 35 years since the Turkish invasion and occupation 
of Cyprus which forcibly separated Greek and Turkish Cypriots along ethnic 
lines and resulted in the destruction and desecration of Cyprus’ religious 
cultural heritage in the occupied area.

In April 2003, the Turkish forces partially lifted the restrictions imposed on 
crossings to and from the occupied area.  This was the first time since 1974 
that it was possible for Greek Cypriots to visit there.  At that time I was 
teaching at the University of Cyprus as visiting professor of medieval 
Byzantine art, archaeology and architecture. 

In cooperation with the nongovernmental Kykkos Museum, I recruited a team of 
experts and proceeded to the detailed examination and photographic 
documentation of every accessible religious monument in the occupied area.  I 
also sought to describe the state of conservation of the buildings, 
mural/mosaic decoration and movable property. 

Today the project is completed – after I was arrested twice by the Turkish 
military police – and I can report to you that we possess a database of 
approximately 20,000 photographs as well as a collection of photographic and 
archive material of the monuments before 1974. 

In some of these photographs you are going to see there, you can see the same 
monument before 1974 and today, the situation today after the invasion.  A 
comparison of the monuments before and after the Turkish invasion easily shows 
the scope of destruction and desecration.

Around 500 churches and religious sites belonging to the Greek-Orthodox 
Autocephalous Church of Cyprus, the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, 
the Holy Monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai, the Roman Catholic Church, the 
Catholic-Armenian Church, the Catholic-Maronite Church, the Jewish community, 
as well as the Protestant Church, along with their cemeteries have been 
willfully desecrated, pillaged, looted and destroyed. 

Furthermore, a considerable number of Christian churches have been converted 
into military camps, mosques, stables, hencoops, ox and sheep stalls.  In 
addition, some are being used today as wheat chambers, storerooms and granaries 
while a number were rented or sold to private individuals, who use them as art 
studios, carpentry workshops, parking stations, coffee shops, residences, 
cultural centers, gym centers, ceramic workshops, hotels, pubs, theaters, 
nightclubs, museums, ottoman baths – hamam, sport clubs and dancing schools.  
The Church of the Savior in the Chrysiliou village is used today as a mortuary.

UNESCO Report 25 of December 1984 states that “The Republic of Cyprus had 
repeatedly applied to UNESCO and asked the mission of observers to report on 
the condition of the monuments.  So far the mission has met with the refusal of 
the Turkish occupation regime.

Similarly, the Council of Europe, after a strict inspection of some occupied 
churches, highlighted in a 1989 report the severe condition of the buildings 
and requested their immediate conservation.  The Church of Cyprus and the 
government as well as societies, institutions, foundations, church committees 
and individuals have tried unsuccessfully to get permission to restore, repair 
and maintain their churches.

The archbishop of Cyprus proposed repeatedly to fund any needed restoration of 
Muslim religious places in the North in addition to the funds provided by the 
government.  A mutual reaction regarding the permission of similar restoration 
of the Christian monuments in the North never came.

Also, a commission of the Church of Cyprus for the religious heritage in Cyprus 
was founded in 2008 where I am taking also part as an expert.  But there was 
again no response from the Turkish side.

Similarly, the declaration of the European parliament on September 5, 2006, on 
the obligation of protection and conservation of the religious heritage in the 
occupied area of Cyprus along with funding amounting to half-a-million euro for 
that purpose met again with the Turkish refusal.

The direct responsibility of Turkey concerning the occupied area is clearly 
stated in the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the Fourth 
Interstate Application of Cyprus against Turkey of May 10, 2001.  Its decision 
– in its decision, the European Court of Human Rights stated inter alia that 
Turkey, quote “having effective overall control over northern Cyprus, its 
responsibility cannot be confined to the acts of its own soldiers or officials 
in northern Cyprus but must be also engaged by virtue of the acts of the local 
administration which survives by virtue of Turkey’s military and other support.

The movable property of almost every church was looted.  Most of the mural or 
mosaic decorations were stripped away and a considerable number were located in 
international art markets abroad.  Some well-known legal cases, as the 
Kanakaria case, Indianapolis court; the Antiphonitis case, Rotterdam court; the 
Dikmen case, Munich court, as well as the published study of Ms. Jansen 
demonstrate and prove the involvement and activity of Turkish looters in the 
occupied areas.

Furthermore, cases as the stripped away of 13th-century frescos of the Lysi 
chapel – now in Houston – and icons of the Koutzoventis monastery demonstrate 
in the most obvious way the cooperation and involvement of the Turkish armed 
forces in the illicit trade.  Both the above-mentioned churches were situated 
in areas under the direct control of the Turkish military.  And the icons and 
frescos were located later in the United States, Germany and in Holland.

There is no religious freedom in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus for 
non-Muslims since all of the communities I referred to earlier are either not 
free or severely restricted in their exercise of religious services, praying 
and maintaining the graves of their ancestors.

They do not have the right of staying in their monasteries and convents nor the 
rights to have free religious elections, ordination of priests, building or 
repairing their churches or administrating their religious property.  Even in 
the cases of a handful of churches operating in the occupied eastern Karpas 
Peninsula where the remaining Greek Cypriots enclaved are, the illegal regime 
confiscated icons and still collects all donations and offerings of the 
pilgrims who, since 2003, can only visit these churches.

The clergy and particularly the bishops are not allowed to hold services, a 
fact proven also by the two, three exceptions after the invention mainly of the 
United States Embassy in Nicosia and UNFICYP.

Even four days ago on July 17th, after repeated intervention of UNFICYP, 
permission was granted only to Greek Cypriot refugees of the occupied village 
of Kythrea to hold a service in their desecrated church – but only for 50 
persons and one priest whose names had to be sent in advance and approved by 
the illegal regime and only under the presence and surveillance of the Turkish 
military. 

Bishops, as the metropolitans of Carpasia, Famagusta, Tamasos, Kykkos or the 
Armenian archbishop have been repeatedly prevented by the Turkish army from 
holding religious services in occupied churches although they had previously 
received permission from the illegal regime through UNFICYP.  

Therefore I was surprised to read the 2008 International Religious Freedom 
Report of the U.S. Department of State that, quote, “However, the politically 
divisive environment on Cyprus engendered some restrictions on religious 
freedom, particularly for Greek Cypriots, Armenians and Maronites,” the report 
added that “the Turkish Cypriot authorities generally respected religious 
freedom in practice.” 

This blatantly ignores the inaccessibility for religious services to both the 
Greek Orthodox churches and to the other faiths that I had mentioned above, 
including a Jewish cemetery and synagogue situated in the Turkish military camp 
of Margo.

The religious culture of the northern part of the island is changing because of 
the importation of over 160,000 mainland Turkish settlers who are 
overwhelmingly more conservative than the Turkish Cypriots.

This is the reality of the situation in the Turkish-occupied area.  In total 
contrast, the government of the Republic of Cyprus, through the Turkish Cypriot 
Properties Management Service and the Department of Antiquities repairs and 
maintains mosques and Muslim places of Worship in the government-controlled 
area, 17 of which, have been declared as “ancient monuments,” allowing the free 
exercise of their religious services.

Though a technical committee composed of members of both communities was 
established a year ago, in the framework of the current negotiations for a 
Cyprus solution to work jointly on restoration and preservation issues, there 
have been no tangible results to date. 

On the contrary, during this period of the negotiations of this committee, the 
18th-century church of St. Catherine in the occupied village of Gerani was 
demolished.  By accident we had this church on the front piece of our book.

Allow me to thank you again for your invitation to speak on the religious 
cultural heritage of Cyprus in peril and I am at your disposal for any 
questions on the issue.

MR. MCNAMARA:  Thank you very much.  Dr. Gallas?

KLAUS GALLAS:  First, I would like to thank the members of the commission for 
allowing me to testify before you on the use of Cyprus’ religious cultural 
heritage in peril.  There is still no complete case-by-case documentation of 
the art thefts that have been growing catastrophically in both number and 
seriousness ever since the start of the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus.  
But there is no question that since the day of the invasion, July 20, 1974, 
such internationally organized thefts and the accompanying illegal trade in 
works of art plundered from churches in the Turkish-occupied sector – some of 
which form part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage – have multiplied to a 
worrying extent.

One shocking instance that typifies this plundering and illegal trading is the 
Dikmen case, the most spectacular example of international theft recorded by 
the Bavarian central department of crime.  It culminated in a court case in 
Indianapolis in 1989 against the American art dealer Peggy Goldberg which was 
successfully pursued by the Church of Cyprus and the government of Cyprus. 

It concerned the 6th century mosaics in the apse of the Panagia Kanakari Church 
on the Karpasia Peninsula.  Parts of these are now in the Byzantine museum in 
Nicosia.  Probably the first major account of the barbaric desecration and 
destruction of Christian heritage within the Turkish occupied area was the one 
by myself that appeared in the German national newspaper, the Frankfurter 
Allgemeine on March 30, 1990.

A striking example of this desecration is the Ajios Euphemianos Church about a 
mile outside the old center of Lysi, to the west of Famagusta.  When I first 
visited the little church prior to 1974, I was overwhelmed by the glowing 
colors and expressive features of the Byzantine murals dating from the 14th 
century.  But when I returned to Lysi in 1989, long after the start of the 
Turkish occupation in northern Cyprus, I found that things in the village were 
completely changed.  Even the altered name of the place, the Turkish 
designation “Akdogan” clearly indicated the intention of the Turkish occupying 
powers:  eradication of every cultural reminder of established historical 
structures on the island.

The little church of Agios Euphemianos was difficult to locate it because it 
was enveloped now by the Turkish barracks.  How was it possible for this jewel 
of Byzantine creativity to have fallen victim to international art thieves 
under the very noses of the watchful Turkish soldiers?  

The removal of all the precious frescoes from the walls and ceiling-domes in a 
professional manner and their transportation abroad in an undamaged state is 
something that would have taken the robbers days, if not weeks. 

Scaffolding would have had to be erected; tools and materials would have had to 
be carried to the church through or around the outside of the barracks.  And 
then there would have been the whole business of exporting the works of art.  
This, too, would have meant having the right contacts and connections.  Nothing 
could have been done without the permission of the Turkish occupation forces.

In this context, there is also a mystery concerning the export license by the 
so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus for the 6th century Golden 
Mosaics of the Panagia Church on the Karpas Peninsula, which was signed at the 
time by Osman Orek.  Until 1963, he was defense minister in the Makarios 
government.  And from 1974 onwards, the right-hand man of Rauf Denktash, the 
leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. 

Later on, Orek declared the documents to have been a forgery.  In 1988, Peggy 
Goldberg, a U.S. citizen, had acquired these mosaics and attempted to market 
them illegally for US$1.2 million.  What followed was the celebrated court case 
in Indianapolis that ended in the autumn of 1989 with the decision by Federal 
Judge Noland in favor of the Republic of Cyprus and the Church of Cyprus.  This 
was a uniquely important decision by the U.S. court.

This case is symptomatic of the organized crime of ripping items of cultural 
heritage out of their context and, by doing so, destroying them forever.  Only 
in rare instances has the government of Cyprus and the Church of Cyprus 
succeeded up to now in securing the return of stolen artworks to Cyprus, either 
through court dispensations or by buying them back.  The route taken by the 
works of art is usually from the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus to either 
Munich or Amsterdam, then from there to Zurich and on to the USA.

Following a house search of Aydin Dikmen’s premises and subsequent 
confiscation, the police in Munich is certainly holding Byzantine mosaics, 
frescoes and icons, presumed to be from the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, to 
the value of more than 30 million euros. 

Meanwhile the legal proceedings against Aydin Dikmen have been dragging on for 
more than 10 years without a conclusion.  For mosaics and frescoes, 
identification is less of a problem.  They are usually quite easy to ascribe to 
a particular historical monument.  Icons, on the other hand, are hard to pin 
down.

The Republic of Cyprus may have secured the judgment in Indianapolis but it was 
less successful in its efforts to secure the return of the Lysi frescos, 
notwithstanding the fact that they could not now be sold to unscrupulous 
collectors.  

It was Aydin Dikmen who, in 1985, also sold the Lysi frescoes to America. The 
De Menil Foundation in Houston, Texas, acquired these immensely valuable 13th 
century frescoes for just 850,000 U.S. dollars.  The interior of the Lysi 
chapel was then reconstructed true to the original within the halls of the 
foundation’s museum so as to allow the frescoes to be displayed exactly as they 
had appeared in situ. 

The De Menil Foundation broke new ground in the details of this arrangement.  
When it was offered the frescoes, it side-stepped all the importation rules, 
negotiated directly with the Church of Cyprus, made an agreement for a 
long-term assignment until 2012, bought the frescoes, had them restored and in 
effect rescued this entire endangered piece of cultural heritage. 

All the same, there are also some hidden dangers in this modus operandi.  It 
lends strength and encouragement to unprincipled art thieves by signaling to 
them that they will always be able to make a profit, one way or the other, from 
their stolen goods.  Maybe what is needed here to nip thieves in the bud is an 
international certificate for the buying and selling of works of art, complete 
with details of provenance.

I wish to bring in another example to support the view that art theft in the 
Turkish-occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus was usually only possible when 
it was tolerated or happened under the watchful eye of the Turkish military.  
On the south coast of the island, only a mile from Kyrenia, stands the 
Acheiropiitos Monastery, a dignified complex dating from the 11th century that 
was erected on the foundations of an early Christian settlement including a 
basilica.  The monastery used to be a treasure house of Byzantine icons dating 
from a variety of centuries – but what has become of these treasures?

During a visit that I paid recently, gaining access to the monastery looked as 
if it would be impossible.  Just as in the autumn of 1989, the Turkish forces 
were still ensconced in its handsome rooms. But after repeated attempts on my 
part to be allowed in, the officers and men suddenly appeared helpful and I was 
permitted to enter.  

Of the once-magnificent display of icons there was nothing to be seen.  Only 
the richly carved pulpit from 1819, with its touches of gold leaf, and the 
remains of the Ikonostase, bereft of all icons, gave a faint indication of the 
former glories of this empty chamber.  How could this desecration of Christian 
cultural heritage have come about right in the middle of the Turkish military 
camp?  How could all these precious icons have been taken down and carried off 
from a monastery that was actually occupied by Turkish officers and men?

The loss to Cyprus and to UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage is unimaginable.  It 
can be assumed that the amount of booty we are aware of is only a fraction of 
the material that has actually been stolen from the Orthodox churches of 
Cyprus, which begs the question:  how many treasures altogether have actually 
been taken between 1974 and 2009 and are now lost to us forever through having 
already been sold to collectors in all corners of the world?  How many fortunes 
have the art thieves amassed for themselves in the meantime through these 
outrageous acts?  They must amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. None of 
the plundered churches will ever sparkle again as they did in the light of days 
gone by. 

My greatest wish, which ties in with the appeal of the Helsinki Commission, is 
that in the very near future, the many works of art that they have stolen, and 
in part still remain missing, should be restored to Cyprus.  Only through 
solidarity and joint action against worldwide art theft, as well as against the 
barbaric destruction and desecration of examples of UNESCO’s World Heritage, 
can we keep alive our historical roots and our cultural identity.

I thank the commission for my speaking.

MR. MCNAMARA:  Thank you very much, Dr. Gallas.  And I would want to 
acknowledge the presence of Senator Sarbanes, who has joined us this afternoon. 
 I thought perhaps another member of the family might be stopping by.  But I do 
have a number of questions that I’d like to pose.  And just for your 
information, the still photographs displayed are ones that I took during my 
recent trip.  I had an opportunity to spend two days in the northern part of 
the country and, driving around, just asked the driver to pull over to a 
village quite randomly – that I determined – and these were some of the many 
photographs that I was able to take during that time, including this one of a 
church near the Karpas region, used obviously as a storage facility.  Of the 20 
or so churches that I stopped into randomly in villages and so forth, none of 
them were intact.  Most of them were populated by pigeons, with pigeon 
droppings that would be unimaginable, actually, and probably quite unhealthy.  

But I did have a number of questions.  Obviously the destruction has taken 
place over a period of time.  And you did mention the church on the cover of 
your book as a recent example.  But I wonder if you could cite any additional 
examples just to underscore the fact that this is an activity that’s ongoing 
and not one that may have taken place 35 years ago in the immediate aftermath 
of the military activity, but is, again, something that’s a current issue as 
well.

MR. CHOTZAKOGLOU:  In the book, there’s a reference of more than 15 churches 
which were pulled down recently.  I say “recently” – in the last five years.  
And there are the names, also, of the churches.  And in most cases, we have the 
possibility to have photographs before they were destroyed.  And also, we have 
cases that, after 2003, it was possible to enter and to see the icon museum in 
Kyrenia.  The Turks made an icon museum in Kyrenia to demonstrate that they 
respect the monuments and the icons.  But I have to say that most of the icons 
there are of the 20th century.  

On the first day, we saw three or four icons of the 16th century.  Today, these 
icons are not there.  And two of these icons were located in Zurich, in 
Switzerland – 

MR. MCNAMARA:  This recent case, yes?

MR. CHOTZAKOGLOU:  This recent case.  And we tried, now, with Interpol to – 
they confiscated – the police authorities in Switzerland – they confiscated 
these icons.  And we hope to get them back.  

MR. MCNAMARA:  Any other – okay.  There were a number of – a couple of you, 
excuse me – referenced military installations and, certainly, a number of the 
churches and monasteries I visited were in close proximity, certainly within 
easy distance of the Turkish forces.  So I wondered if you could discuss the 
question of the inclusion of religious sites within military exclusion zones in 
the region.  Or whoever wishes to – 

MS. JANSEN:  I’d just like to say one thing.  The point is that a great deal of 
the territory of the northern part of Cyprus has been taken up with military 
bases.  And it’s very difficult to travel around that area without noting that 
you pass a great many military bases.  And some major Greek Cypriot Orthodox 
churches were in these military bases.  And some were looted by the soldiery 
soon after the north was taken over.  

And then, Aydin Dikmen, who claimed to have close connections with the Turkish 
military, he was also allowed in to do some of the looting there – in the 
military areas, which shows that there was collusion between Dikmen and the 
military.

There was also collusion in the sense that he was allowed to take his large 
crates of icons and other material – archeological material – out of the area 
without hindrance.  And at one point, he was actually arrested and held by the 
Turkish authorities in northern Cyprus.  But as a friend of mine says, his wife 
turned up with a big bag of money and he was out the next day.

So this was the problem:  There was collusion on one hand and then there was 
exoneration on the other.  So Dikmen was able to proceed with his looting of 
northern Cyprus without any kind of obstruction from the authorities which were 
governing the area.  

MR. GALLAS:  I will speak in German and we have a translator.  My English is 
not so good.  

MR.:  Dr. Gallas would like to say that it is important to him to note that 
he’s not attacking, if I may use that word, the Turkish government, but that it 
is important to preserve and protect the theft.  He believes that nothing could 
take place without the supervision and eyes of the Turkish military.  

The problem with the Dikmen case is following the evidence.  And he has been 
researching the case for the last 10 years.  As he has referred to previously, 
it’s easy to identify a fresco in a certain church.  The difficulty is with the 
icons because the school of icon painting exported them to many different 
countries.  And Dikmen says it’s hard to say which came from where.  And Dikmen 
claims that all those icons that can definitely be identified will be returned, 
but he gets all the others that are not definitely identified.  And we’re 
talking about artifacts that are the value of 30 million euro.  

MR. CHOTZAKOGLOU:  I’d like just to make a statement.  I read today, in the 
Washington Times, an article on our hearing today.  And there is a statement 
that these things which were stolen with the help of the Turkish military 
troops or with the help of other authorities in northern Cyprus, have been 
smuggled out of Cyprus mostly through the southern part of the island.  

We have to underline that in that case, we have a lot of cases, we have a lot 
of icons, which were smuggled out of the port of Kyrenia and Mrs. Jansen can 
describe, also, the whole thing from eyewitnesses, but that icons which were 
smuggled out of Cyprus from the southern part of the island were not smuggled 
out in a – in a bigger export – because already in 1976, the high commissioner 
for the refugees, the Austrian, Alfred Seglipe (ph).  He was also arrested by 
the police.  He was there to protect the refugees and he was taking part in 
illicit trade of antiquities.  

So in such cases, we know from other eyewitnesses that with the help of the 
Finnish United Nations peacekeeping force, a lot of icons were smuggled out of 
the Larnaca port and were sent to Germany.  So these cases that are known were 
not, of course, smuggled out to these things legally, but illegally, without, 
of course, the knowledge of the legitimate authorities of the Republic of 
Cyprus.  Thank you.

MR. MCNAMARA:  Sure.  There has been some reference to UNESCO, which obviously 
has a unique mission throughout the world for protection of cultural heritage.  
And I wondered if anyone could elaborate a little further.  I know that there 
was a mention regarding an early-on assessment or study by UNESCO.  But I 
wonder to the extent that this issue is actively pursued within the context of 
that organization.

MS. JANSEN:  UNESCO, as I said earlier, suppressed the report, which was 
written by Jacques Dalibard.  This report was 120 pages long and quite 
detailed.  He wasn’t allowed to go to all of the monuments, all of the churches 
or all of the archeological sites.  He was only allowed to go to a certain 
number.  And his report was actually kept under wraps until about two years 
ago.  UNESCO really did nothing about this situation at all.  

And this whole business was repeated.  In the aftermath of the invasion and 
occupation of Iraq in 2003, UNESCO sent a mission to Baghdad.  And they 
reported on the same sort of activity – dealing with the Iraq museum and also 
some of the sites.  And I attended – I went with the mission to Baghdad.  And 
UNESCO has done nothing about getting things back to Iraq, which were stolen 
during this period.  And in fact, Iraq is being plundered as we speak.  And 
whole sites are being destroyed by people who are actually doing industrial 
farming of archeological sites.  

The main problem is that whenever there is war or civil war or some kind of 
unrest or even natural disaster, the cultural heritage of countries which 
suffer these situations gets destroyed and also looted and exported.  The 
United States has done some good things.  It has signed a memorandum of 
understanding with Cyprus and with Iraq.  And material is being returned.  

Also, one must take into account the effect of the case in Indianapolis.  That 
case produced a very important judgment:  that the thief doesn’t have any right 
to what he has stolen.  And that case has a tremendous impact on museums around 
the world and on countries which are seeking to repatriate their cultural 
heritage.  

Italy has very aggressively pursued its stolen cultural heritage.  It has 
received back some very important items.  The Getty Museum in California has 
had to give back items.  And Greece is pursuing its stolen heritage.

So the case in Indianapolis has changed the picture for museums and for 
collectors who are trying to look legitimate.  Now it is no longer possible to 
buy stolen antiquities, art, icons, whatever, and claim that we bought this in 
good faith; we didn’t know it was stolen.  This good faith clause is now out of 
the picture.  

So what the illicit dealers do now, of course, is they manufacture provenance, 
which is creating some kind of false document so that they can sell the 
material to museums or to auction houses or to private collectors.  And of 
course, this is a growing industry.  But people who are really seriously 
interested in pursuing stolen items can prove that these documents are not 
legal and reclaim the items.  

One of the cases – the important case in this particular example, which I can 
think of, is the case of a Greek crater for mixing wine, which was given false 
provenance by the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  It belonged to Greece, and 
they gave it the provenance of another piece, which had been sitting in a bank 
in Beirut for many years, which was not the complete one, whereas the one that 
the Metropolitan Museum had was a beautifully restored, complete, very large 
wine jug.  So as I say, you must never underestimate the importance of that 
decision in Indianapolis on the Cypriot mosaics.  Thank you.

MR. MCNAMARA:  Thank you.  There was a reference made to the technical group 
that’s supporting the talks between President Christofias and Mr. Talat.  And I 
just wondered, because I know that there is some description of sort of the 
mandate that they’re supposed to undertake – identification of sites and so 
forth – and I wonder, has anything happened – obviously, there is a large array 
of issues that the leaders and their colleagues are trying to grapple with, but 
I just wondered if you could give us any information on that aspect of the 
ongoing talks?

MR. CHOTZAKOGLOU:  I do know the activity of this committee, because before 
they began, they were founded one year ago.  Turkish Cypriots and Greek 
Cypriots are taking part, and they visited also the Kykkos Museum in order to 
get information on the work we have done and also other institutions.  And 
after one year of cooperation and meetings, unfortunately, there was no result, 
because every time, they had to postpone and postpone all the activities they 
had.  They decided to begin a pilot project to restore one church – Saint 
Michael in the occupied village of Leonarisso and on the other hand, a Muslim 
mosque in Limassol.  

Of course, you can imagine that on the one side, you have more than 500 
churches, and on the other hand, you have just some of the mosques, so it’s not 
the same – one-to-one.  Anyway, until now, there was no progress on that.  They 
said that the problem would be the financial one.  And in that case, we came 
and we asked the committee to do something which they don’t need money to do – 
to allow the church communities of the Greeks to go and restore the cemeteries 
with their own monies – just to put the crosses there, to have the possibility 
to visit the graves of their ancestors and to light a candle there.  

They refused it, which means that it’s not that they don’t have the money to go 
on with the restoration; they are not willing to do that.  And they say, when 
it comes to such a decision, we have to wait for the political decision of the 
matter.  So we hoped a lot on this committee that we could have, after one 
year, a result.  But we didn’t.  On the contrary, during the negotiations and 
the meetings of this committee, the church that I showed you was willfully 
destroyed and pulled down.  It was a church – this one!  This was the church 
before, and now.  So there’s nothing of the church and this is how it was in 
2008 – just some months before this committee was grounded.  And now, there is 
nothing there.  Thank you.

MR. MCNAMARA:  Thank you.  The U.S. Agency for International Development has 
supported a number of restoration projects in the North, including work at the 
Agios Mamas Church in Morphu, mainly operated as an icon museum.  I wonder what 
your assessment regarding these projects, and then I guess another thing that 
strikes me is that there are this limited number – I think it was in Kyrenia as 
well that I saw this very prominent steeple of a church that also serves as an 
icon museum and attracts, apparently, a lot of foreign tourists.  

And I wondered if there’s been some investigation – I think you alluded to it a 
little bit – regarding the contents of these museums.  Are they materials that 
were original to the church, or is it a collection from various of the 
destroyed churches, or has anybody been able to trace that aspect of it?

MR. CHOTZAKOGLOU:  Because of the accusations of the destruction of the 
churches and the illicit trade, they made two icon museums – the one you have 
visited in Kyrenia or, I suppose you didn’t visit – excuse me.

MR. MCNAMARA:  I didn’t visit, but I saw it from a distance.  It was very 
prominent.  I was paying attention to the information office that’s located in 
a little chapel right on the harbor center. 

MR. CHOTZAKOGLOU:  And also another one in the Holy Virgin Church in Trikomo.  
It’s also in the Famagusta region.  If not all the icons that are inside, they 
do not belong to the church, but they were brought there.  And all of them are 
dated into the 20th and 19th centuries.  You have to imagine that we have, in 
Cyprus, icons from the 11th, 12th and 13th century which are missing, and not 
one of them are there.  So they’re just new icons, which were painted some 
decades ago or even 100 years – so for Cyprus, 100 years ago is not a great 
matter.  (Chuckles.)

The second thing:  We have – with the help of the United States, we had the 
restoration of some monuments, as, for example, we had the Hala Sultan Tekke – 
this is – a tekke is a kind of monastery for the Muslims – in Larnaca.  And on 
the other hand, we could restore a church in the occupied areas.  This would be 
Saint Andrew in the Karpas Peninsula.  What happened was the tactic which we 
now know happens all the time.  Unfortunately, when the Turkish committee 
begins with the restoration of the mosque in the South, they could proceed.  
There was no problem.  They had their archeologists, architects and the workers 
and they went on, and if you go now to Cyprus, if you land in the Larnaca 
airport, the first thing you can see is this mosque.  It’s very, very beautiful 
and it’s good that it was restored.

On the other hand, when we tried to go on with the restoration of Saint Andrew, 
which is a very big pilgrimage for the Cypriots because most of them have been 
baptized there, every time that we were trying to go on, there were problems.  
We wanted to have material for the restoration.  We could not bring the 
material from the Republic of Cyprus, but we had to import it from Turkey.  
Then we had to wait for months.  These materials could not be found in Turkey; 
we had to import it, for example, from Germany.  No, we had to wait.  

And after – during this time, the tekke in Larnaca was already restored, and 
after it was restored, they said, so the time is out; you don’t have any more 
possibility to restore the church.  So it remains like that.  So you can still 
see the Saint Andrew Church, which is falling down.  The other case you 
mentioned – Saint Mamas in Morphu – it’s a recent case.  And it was allowed to 
restore the icon screen – actually the wooden parts of the church – not the 
building.  And this is – you have to imagine, this was a very good thing that 
was made and we’re happy for that, but that’s one case in 500.  

And I’d like to stress here that it’s not only the Greek Orthodox churches 
which were looted or destroyed.  We have Catholic churches; we have Armenian 
churches; Maronite churches; we have Jewish cemeteries; we have so many, which 
are not only the Greek Orthodox monuments.  So we have also to pay attention 
for them.

MS. JANSEN:  Could I make one – 

MR. MCNAMARA:  Please.

MS. JANSEN:  I just wanted to mention that there is a Web site which one can 
consult.  It was put up jointly by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot engineers 
and architects.  It’s called cyprustemples.com and it has on it 505 churches 
and 111 mosques and Muslim sites.  It gives the state of each one and what is 
recommended to repair it or replace it or whatever.  And it is a very valuable 
site.  It shows a lot. 

These people spent quite a lot of time; they have plenty of photographs.  And 
buildings which have been completely destroyed or are in very bad states, there 
are, of course, no photographs of them.  But it is, as I say, a very valuable 
source on what exactly has gone on.  It needs to be updated, but otherwise, it 
is a very good effort.

MR. MCNAMARA:  Thank you very much.  I have one additional question and then a 
number of questions very quickly pertaining to – one of you referred to the 
2008 international religious freedom report.  The question I had is, besides 
the storage facility in this particular church near the Karpas region, I did 
pass by another church that was part – clearly, a monastery that was part of a 
sort of hilltop resort in the Kyrenia area.

And I wondered if there’s been any attempt to identify the commercial backers 
of those religious sites that have been converted into commercial purposes, 
particularly like hotels and things of this nature?  Are they investors from 
the North, from Turkey, from the U.S., from other EU countries?  Or has that 
been looked into at all?

MS. JANSEN:  Not that I know of.

MR. CHOTZAKOGLOU:  The case you mentioned is a hotel now.  It was a convent and 
it was converted into a hotel.  You can go there.  I have met the owner.  He is 
from Turkey.  And what has happened is that, against the constitution of 
Cyprus, they confiscated all the religious property, which, according to the 
constitution of Cyprus, the religious property of every religious community is 
indisputable.  And they gave it to the Muslim administration commission, named 
FCAF (sp).  And these are the persons who are selling or renting churches.

It was very interesting – I don’t have the photograph there, but it’s an 
English-speaking newspaper from – (inaudible) – Smith Real Estate agents where 
you can see here, there is a church for sale.  “Lease for church, fully 
restored and used as a picture gallery/craft center.  Lovely position below 
Adramit village. £32,500.”  So we have a lot of such cases.  We have, also, 
American citizens.  We have mainly English.  We have also Germans – persons who 
bought or rented such churches in order to use them for restaurants, for pubs, 
for nightclubs and so on.  Or they rented to Turks to use them as I told you.  
Even a gym – you can go to a gym and you have the apse and the church inside 
and it’s unbelievable for us.  

The most impressive case was a church which was converted into a mortuary.  So 
I went inside and I found the coffins of the dead.  And you can – they put them 
on the altar, they wash them and then they bury them in the cemetery that’s 
near to the church.  So we have a lot of such cases, recently also.  It happens 
every day.  So the last time I was in Famagusta, there was a photograph – you 
can see there – it was the medieval Gothic church of the 13th century in 
Famagusta of the Templars, and now it’s a nightclub.  You can have your drink 
there, and it’s unbelievable for us, for such a desecration of a holy place, 
whatever the beliefs of your own are.  Thank you.

MR. MCNAMARA:  Sure.  Just to wrap up this portion of the briefing, the 
international religious freedom report of 2008 says that Orthodox and Maronites 
are, quote, “allowed to conduct mass on a regular basis without prior 
permission at seven sites in the occupied area.”  

Does this conform with your observations regarding the situation with 
believers, because I had an opportunity to meet with the bishop of the Karpas 
region, for example, and it seemed like he has many restraints placed upon him 
in terms of his ability to go to his region of the country, and then certainly 
in terms of the question of conducting religious services.  

And that, I guess, I must say I found tremendously ironic, having visited the 
region and gone by many villages and stopped in about 20 or so.  But then the 
report goes on to say prior permission was required to conduct mass at the 
other estimated 500 religious sites in the area administered by Turkish 
Cypriots.  I mean, these are the images of some of those 500 sites.  

So to someone who may not have followed the developments as closely, in my 
first reading, I would say, oh wow, there must be 500 churches, chapels and 
monasteries that can still be used for the conducting of religious services of 
various nature.  So I just –a gain, I scratched my head after I read that 
portion of the report because it seemed, certainly, highly misleading.

MS. JANSEN:  I would just like to say one thing on this.  I checked exactly 
this question out before I left Cyprus.  There are three churches which are 
designated as possible sites for services.  And services are not held 
regularly.  The church has to apply for permission to hold a service and it may 
or may not be granted.  It is rarely granted.  It is sometimes granted on 
saints’ days.  And last week, one service was held at Ayia Marina and only 50 
people were allowed to attend.  

And at some of these services, even though permission was given, the police 
which operate in the northern part of Cyprus came and told the congregations to 
disband and to leave.  Now, this particular situation must be compared to what 
is going on in the government-controlled areas, where there is complete freedom 
of religion for everyone.  And I consulted someone who is connected with the 
mosque in Nicosia and I said, what is the situation there?

He said there are three congregations in Cyprus in established mosques, which 
have been restored and repaired, and there is a fourth congregation in Paphos.  
The three established mosques are in Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol.  There is a 
fourth congregation in a hall in Paphos.  They haven’t yet managed to work out 
some sort of arrangement for being placed in the mosque there.  Anyway, they 
meet every week.  They have congregations of, sometimes, two or three thousand 
on Muslim feast days in all three of these areas – in Limassol, Nicosia and 
Larnaca.

And most of the people who are in the congregations are people who came to 
Cyprus in the past decade, two decades.  They are of Arab origin or Bangladeshi 
origin or Pakistani origin.  Apparently, Turkish Cypriots don’t attend the 
mosques.  So the mosques are maintained.   The government of Cyprus provides a 
salary for the imam and the congregations take up collections to pay the water 
bill, the electricity bill and for small repairs.  And that is the situation on 
the two sides; it’s quite different.  Thank you.

MR. CHOTZAKOGLOU:  I’d just like to add something, that according to the 
constitution in Cyprus, all religious institutions – they do not have to pay 
taxes.  And that’s what happens also with the Muslim institutions in the 
Republic of Cyprus or with the Jewish ones or with others.  And I was very 
surprised, actually, to read the international religious freedom report of the 
United States Department of State because they write here that “there are some 
restrictions religious freedom” – some restrictions, which means that the rule 
is that you can go there without any problem, you can have your religious 
service and leave.  

But that’s not the case; that’s not the rule; that’s not how it happens.  It’s 
the opposite.  Every time that a priest of a bishop wants to have a religious 
service, we have to fight, actually, for months with the United States Embassy, 
with the British embassy, with the country who is maybe the president of the 
European Union, with friends or personal contacts of every person in order to 
get the permission to go there and to have, under the surveillance of the 
police with our names written and given before, to have a religious service.  

So under this situation, I don’t think that what is written here represents 
today’s situation of the region, especially when they write that the Turkish 
Cypriot authorities generally respected the religious freedom in practice.  I 
think that everyone can go there and see it also for himself, what we’re 
seeing.  We have a lot of cases where, as Ms. Jansen said, we were granted such 
permission from the Turkish Cypriot authorities, and when the bishops, 
recently, some months ago, during the Holy Communion service with the Holy 
Communion in his hands, the police came in – the police which is controlled by 
the Turkish military – came in and they throw them away.  

He presented the papers he had.  He had to go to Famagusta where the military 
officer was there.  He said, I do not accept these papers.  If you want, you 
can go to the United Nations to have your religious service or in the southern 
part, but not here.  So they had to leave.  That’s what happens all day.  It’s 
very, very difficult to have – there are only some cases on the Karpas 
Peninsula where some Greeks there – and only from a local priest – that they 
can have a religious service there.  And also the case for some Maronite 
churches on the western part of the occupied areas.  These are the only 
examples.  

No Armenian, no Maronite, no Jews – no one can go on with their religious 
service and have religious freedom in practice.  And religious freedom is not 
only to have a religious service in the church.  It is to have the ordination 
of the priests.  It is to have the possibility to administer the religious 
property.  There is a lot of things.  If you don’t have a single cemetery which 
still can be seen – you can go there to see the situation of the cemeteries – 
there is not a single cemetery which still stands there; how is there religious 
freedom?  That was my surprise when I read the report of the commission.

MR. MCNAMARA:  Thank you very much.  Just because you were mentioning 
cemeteries, one of the ironies I found was, this is a little shed in the corner 
of one of the little churches in a village in the North.  And then I actually 
did, of course, visit this cemetery here.  And actually on the other side of 
the wall, I found ironic that there was a Muslim burial place that was 
meticulously maintained.  I’m not sure when it dated from and so forth, but I 
just felt like there was sort of a bit of irony there, given the nature of 
these cemeteries and the other ones that I went to during my time there.

Our time is up for this portion of the briefing.  We’ll take probably about a 
five-minute break and then, for those who have time and are interested, we’ll 
have the showing of this short film – 18 minutes long – by Dr. Gallas.  Let me 
just make sure I get the correct title:  “Where Heaven Falls Prey – P-R-E-Y – 
to Thieves.”  For those who are not able to stay for the presentation, it is 
available – I hope this isn’t a bootleg or something like that, but my 
erstwhile intern that was working with me did find it in two parts on YouTube, 
so you can view it via that means.  

We will have a complete transcription of today’s briefing available on the 
commission’s Web site tomorrow – within 24 hours we try to get it.  There are a 
lot of foreign names and so forth, so we’ll have to help the transcriber here.  
But we do very much appreciate your presence here this afternoon on an issue 
that, again – when we look at a situation, we go back and try to see if there’s 
a relevant commitment that the OSCE-participating states have undertaken.  

And when we looked at the situation in terms of religious cultural heritage in 
this part of Cyprus, it just struck me as so tailor-made, if you will, where it 
talks about the importance of preservation and protection of sites even if the 
original community does not use them, or is even located – I did get a chance 
to go to the Karpas region to the very tip of northeastern Cyprus and to be 
able to sit down and to talk to some elderly Greek Cypriots – I think 228 in 
the particular village.  

And unfortunately, the main service that they seem to be conducting in the sole 
church there is funerals.  But that’s part of the reality as well.  Thank you 
again for coming and we appreciate your attention.  The restrooms are just 
outside of the room and to the right.  And again, we’ll resume at about 25 past.

(END)