The Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns the decision and insistence of the Biblical Archaeology Society to arrive in the Republic of Cyprus through the illegal airport in Tymbou in the Turkish occupied areas and to arrange hotel accommodation in Keryneia in usurped Greek Cypriot property. The Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Washington has strongly protested to the Society and underlined the violation of the national legislation of the Republic of Cyprus, the human rights of Cypriot refugees as well as the ethical ramifications of this tour. Simultaneously, scientific and cultural associations in Cyprus, the U.S.A. and elsewhere have expressed their strong protest and condemnation to the Biblical Archaeology Society regarding this trip. Unfortunately, the Biblical Archaeology Society has chosen, until now, to ignore these protestations, being presumably influenced by the policies and positions of one of the main sponsors and organizers of this tour, which is none else than the Turkish Government itself.
The cultural and christian heritage in the occupied areas of Cyprus constitutes an inseparable and important part of the world´s cultural heritage. The Turkish invasion of 1974 and the subsequent occupation have caused great destruction to this heritage because of the premeditated policy of the occupation regime aiming to erase the historical and christian identity of the occupied areas of Cyprus.
This destruction and looting involves, inter alia, monuments, churches, monasteries and archaeological sites which are included in the Biblical Archaeology Society’s tour, such as Salamis and the Monastery of Saint Barnabas. It is also worth reminding the looting of the archives and warehouses of foreign archaeological missions which were active in that area in 1974.
In view of the above, the unacceptable position of the Biblical Archaeology Society is consistent neither with scholarly ethics nor with the minimum solidarity and respect that this organization should have demonstrated towards the victim of a continuing aggression on the part of an occupation regime which has caused immeasurable destruction to a centuries old heritage, in violation of the relevant UNESCO conventions.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus reiterates its appeal to the Biblical Archaeology Society to reconsider its plans, even at this late hour, and to modify the tour’s itinerary in a way that it will not violate international law and the laws of the Republic of Cyprus. If it continues to insist on such an insulting and contemptuous behaviour towards the Cyprus Republic, its institutions and its history, then we convey to the Society the unequivocal message that because of their behaviour they are unwanted in Cyprus and by its people.