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Bicommunal Committee gets European Heritage Award

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Cyprus’ Bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage was awarded the European Heritage/ Europa Nostra Award for demonstrating the highest degree of dedication and excellence in preserving shared culture.

The pan-European federation for cultural heritage, Europa Nostra, announced Tuesday the 24 winners from 18 countries.

It said the award “constitutes a moral reward for the commitment of the members of the Bicommunal Technical Committee in their effort to save the cultural heritage of Cyprus and create a climate of trust and understanding between the two communities”.

In its 13 years of existence, the Technical Committee for Cultural Heritage has preserved more than 70 monuments of great historical, archaeological, religious and social importance.

“TCCH, established in 2008 by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders under the auspices of the United Nations, has uninterruptedly dedicated its time, energy and expertise to the recognition, promotion and protection of the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Cyprus, and by extension, of Europe,” said Europa Nostra.

The Committee receives funding mainly from the European Union and other donors, such as the Church of Cyprus, the EVKAF Administration, the USAID, the Holy See, the A.G. Leventis Foundation.

The Committee is equally composed of representatives of the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.

“These representatives have worked tirelessly to centre cultural heritage as a powerful tool for peaceful cooperation and the creation of a climate of reconciliation.”

In recognition of the Committee’s achievements in promoting mutual understanding, co-chairs Takis Hadjidemetriou and Ali Tuncay received the 2015 European Citizen’s Prize.

“This unique model of collaboration between two communities, in spite of a challenging political context, is an important example of dedication to conserving heritage.

“The ceaseless and peace-promoting activities of the Committee, composed of volunteer experts from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, demonstrate their courage and their hope,” the Jury stated.

Cyprus’ diverse heritage reflects the many civilisations that have left their mark on the island: the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Romans and the Byzantines to the Lusignans, the Venetians, the Ottomans and the British.

Among the many monuments and sites, the Committee has restored are the famous monastery of Apostolos Andreas in the occupied north of Cyprus, Othello Tower and the city walls of Famagusta, first built by the Lusignans in the 12th century, modified and improved by the Genoese, Venetians, Ottomans and the British.

“These sites, each a tangible marker of Cyprus’ long and rich heritage, are now preserved for future generations thanks to the unflinching dedication of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage.”

The Jury highly praised the TCCH’s achievements: “The work of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage is a powerful demonstration that people of different cultures, languages and religions can and should try to overcome their differences and work together for the common good.

“This is undeniable proof that cultural heritage is the glue that unites people, both among local communities and across borders.”

Award winners

Conservation Projects
Gare Maritime, Brussels, BELGIUM
Fredensborg Palace Garden, DENMARK
Vardzia Rock-Cut Complex, GEORGIA
Haus Am Horn, Weimar, GERMANY
Plaka Bridge, Epirus, GREECE
18 Ormond Quay Upper, Dublin, IRELAND
Wooden Church of Urși Village, Vâlcea County, ROMANIA
Besòs Water Tower, Barcelona, SPAIN
Mas de Burot, Els Ports Natural Park, SPAIN

Research Projects
FIBRANET – FIBRes in ANcient European Textiles, DENMARK / GREECE
Control Shift – European Industrial Heritage Reuse in Review, GREECE / THE NETHERLANDS
ART-RISK – Artificial Intelligence Applied to Preventive Conservation, SPAIN

Dedicated Service to Heritage by Organisations & Individuals
Gjirokastra Foundation, ALBANIA
Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, CYPRUS
Rita Bargna, ITALY
GEFAC – Group of Ethnography and Folklore of the Academy of Coimbra, PORTUGAL

Education, Training & Awareness-raising Projects
Following in the Steps of Bulgarian Folklore, BULGARIA
Heritage Hubs, FINLAND / ITALY / SERBIA / SPAIN
The Invention of a Guilty Party, Trento, ITALY
Holidays! In the East and West – The School Church, Groningen, THE NETHERLANDS
European Solidarity Centre – Permanent Exhibition, Gdańsk, POLAND
Morón Artisan Lime, Morón de la Frontera, SPAIN
Archaeology at Home, UNITED KINGDOM
Morus Londinium: London’s Heritage through Trees, UNITED KINGDOM