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Cyprus Economy

CYPRUS: Convention on antiquities and cultural trafficking open for signature

19 May, 2017

Cyprus concluded its chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on a high note on Friday by inviting signatories and ratification of a convention for the protection of cultural heritage to combat the trafficking of antiquities and cultural property.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, the host Chairman of the Committee and Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said with the ‘Nicosia Convention’, the international community “takes a crucial leap forward in the protection of our cultural heritage, especially in the efforts to combat the trade in blood antiquities by transnational organised crime and terrorist networks.”
“Today, the Council of Europe opens for signature the only international treaty specifically dealing with the criminalisation of the illicit trafficking of cultural property. The Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property (the Nicosia Convention) establishes a number of criminal offences, including theft; unlawful excavation, importation and exportation; illegal acquisition and placing on the market and other such activities,” Kasoulides said.
He Cypriot official said it also promotes international cooperation in this field and will effectively enhance the international legal frameworks against cultural trafficking.
“The protection of cultural heritage has been a priority for Cyprus, a priority we pursued in the Human Rights Council and other fora, and very importantly, during the Cyprus Chairmanship of the Council of Europe,” Kasoulides said, thanking his colleagues in Strasbourg, who intensified their work during the last few months to finalise the Convention.
Co-signing the ‘Nicosia Convention’ were Armenia, Greece, Portugal, San Marino and Mexico paving the way for its implementation once it is ratified by five national parliaments.
“I call on states to sign and ratify the Nicosia Convention as soon as possible; we have a collective responsibility to protect our cultural heritage and the heritage of mankind”, Kasoulides concluded.