Four fragments of looted frescoes from the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus are been handed over to the Republic of Cyprus after they were recovered by international NGO Walk of Truth.
Transport Minister Vassiliki Anastasiadou will accept the fragments for repatriation on behalf of President Nicos Anastasiades during a ceremony which will take place at the Republic’s Embassy in the Hague.
Two of the four frescoes have been identified as belonging to the church of Panagia Apsinthiotissa, a Greek Orthodox monastery situated in the northern Turkish occupied part of the island.
They are a portrayal of Virgin Mary attending the deposition of Christ and an image of a martyr.
The exact provenance of the other two frescoes is not known, but they have also been identified as Cypriot.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
The uncontrolled situation in the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus after the Turkish invasion in 1974 has fostered the development of a network of dealers in illicit antiquities whose aim was to sell out the cultural heritage of Cyprus. With the encouragement and help of the Turkish army, the trade in illicit antiquities has brought great profit to those involved, and Cypriot treasures already adorn private collections in a number of countries including Turkey, Russia, Switzerland, Holland and the UK, and even as far as the US, Australia and Japan.
More than 500 churches situated in the areas under Turkish occupation since 1974 have been destroyed, plundered and looted or turned into stables, warehouses, restaurants and hotels. The Cyprus government and the church have repeatedly protested to the UN, the World Council of Churches and many other international and religious organisations.
(Cyprus News Agency)