Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cyprus in Breach of MOU with US?

In return for precluding Americans from purchasing undocumented Cypriot antiquities (which means an embargo for all practical purposes for things like coins) Cyprus is supposed to undertake serious efforts to protect its own cultural patrimony.  Here is an email that was forwarded to me from a Cypriot coin dealer that alleges that Cyprus has done little to live up to its end of the MOU:

Dear Sir/Madam, I didn't know who else to send this email too so I hope you can forward it to the appropriate parties. I do not hold out much hope that it will make any difference but I have nothing to lose. Regarding the renewal of the Cyprus/USA MOU, it is my belief that Cyprus is in breach of at least 3 of the criteria in article II. Article II/C. states "The Government of the Republic of Cyprus will systematically continue to conduct the inventory of cultural resources in museums, ecclesiastical buildings, private collections and archaeological sites. Every effort should be made to engage all Cypriots in this effort." The last time the Department of Antiquities gave an amnesty for the registration of private collections of antiquities/coins was in 1996. An amendment to the current antiquities law has just been passed and we pressed the DOA and the 'lawmakers' to include another amnesty during this period but the DOA has categorically refused. I don't know if once in the last 16 years can be classed as a 'systematic inventory' but in my opinion it does not! Article II/D. states " The Government of the Republic of Cyprus will make every effort to discourage pillage of cultural resources, and the unauthorized export of such material, through public education programs, including posting appropriate signage at airports, hotels, museums, and other public areas that draw attention to this Memorandum of Understanding and to the cultural heritage protection laws of Cyprus, and introducing initiatives in support of the importance of protecting and preserving the cultural heritage into schools and to the general public." Nothing whatsoever suggested in this paragraph has been implemented. Article II/F. "The Government of the Republic of Cyprus will use its best efforts to allocate sufficient resources for site conservation, museum development, and the adequate conduct of salvage archaeology where there is proposed land development; and to ensure that such development, which can give rise to pillage, is fully monitored by the Department of Antiquities." I wont go into the "adequate conduct of salvage archaeology" as this is a joke in Cyprus. Concerning the "best efforts to allocate sufficient resources for site conservation" I think I have emailed about this before. Apart from a few of the main 'tourist attraction' archaeological sites, 95% of all other sites in Cyprus don't even have the basic deterrents needed to counter looting. In my opinion lighting is the most basic and most important of all deterrents needed and even the main sites do not have this. So, of the 9 criteria listed in the MOU, 5 are the sole responsibility of Cyprus. Of these 5 criteria 3 have DEFINITELY not been met, possibly more.


Paul Barford said...

This Friend-of-America "Cypriot coin dealer" sent his letter unsigned, or you left it off?

Tell me, the MOU sets a whole series of tasks before the other party, while the US undertakes to do only two things. Why is it that the CCPIA does not require the submission of a report to Congress about the measures the US has taken to fulfil its part of the BILATERAL agreement, and the cost and effectiveness of those measures?

Cultural Property Observer said...

I'm not publishing Kyri's comment because it wrongly assumes a specific person sent this email. He's free to repost with regards to the substance of this blog post.

For Mr. Barford, perhaps State should be required to live up to its current reporting obligations before it is required to do more.

It would be interesting to do a cost benefit of this program as a whole. It does seem to be little more than a special interest program for a limited number or American archaeologists who can use their support for these MOU's to butress their own positions in places like Cyprus.

Paul Barford said...

As I say, did this person do his "grassing" anonymously? Why the mystery? Is the person "with nothing to lose" not willing to sign his name under his own words?

Then why not campaign to get the CCPIA changed to one which serves wider interests?

kyri said...

hi peter,i can understand you not publishing my comment if i came to the wrong conclusion but that does not change the fact that what this "anonymous cypriot coin dealer" is saying regarding cyprus is simply not true.anyone can google cypriot museums reviews and see for themselves what people think of these museums.also the implication is that the cypriot people dont realy care about their cultural heritage and that could not be further from the truth.i thought your were not publishing anonymous comments on your blog anymore?

Cultural Property Observer said...

Hi Kyri- It was an email that was forwarded to me. It was not a comment on my blog. I think it raised some legitimate questions so I published it unsigned-- don't think the person who wrote it deserves the abuse he would receive for asking the questions posed.

I'm sure Cypriots care for their culture, but that does not mean that the Government is doing what it should be doing in that regard. After reviewing the issues for purposes of the MOU, it is my opinion they are spending far too little to protect sites but doing too much overregulating collectors. What this results in is insiders flourish, but others are precluded from lawful enjoyment of even common cultural artifacts. Given all the stuff sitting in storage, perhaps there should be selective deaccession of duplicative material. The funds can be used to help preserve Cypriot cultural patrimony.

I'll also note although I am not publishing anonymous comments, I'm actually making an exception for you as I assume Kyri is not your full name.



kyri said...

hi peter,kyri is short for kyriacos and that is how i sign in all my posts on all the forums.
personally im all for deaccessioning duplicates and allways have been.allthough dealers allways call for this to happen deep down im not sure if that is what they realy want.if all the museums done this and flooded the market with ligitamate pieces im sure prices would drop dramaticaly,great for collectors bad for dealers.maybe such a moove would put alot of dealers out of business.

Wayne G. Sayles said...


Why is the name of this writer more important than the content of the criticism he makes? Should he be publicly highlighted so Paul Barford and his ilk can burn him at the stake and dance merrily in glee? You choose anonymity online by signing "Kyri" which might as well be an "X" and yet criticize the anonymity of others? As a matter of fact, Cyprus is a cultural disaster zone. The archaeological projects are in a state of disarray, corruption between private enterprise and government is rampant and the chaos created by a divided island is doing infinitely more harm to the island's heritage than the sharing of a few coins or pot shards that collectors abroad might be enamored with. If one strips the MOU of its ideological foundation, it really has no positive effect on Cyprus and it has a very negative impact on American appreciation of the island's long and rich heritage. Isn't that what the "anonymous" Cypriot said?

kyri said...

hi wayne,kyri is a shortnd version of my real name[kyriacos]not an x.if you or peter email me privately i would gladly prove to you that i am a real person and a serious collector.
i critcize this cypriot dealer because he makes sweeping statements,like he has,anonymously and this takes all credibility of what he says away,after all,as far as we know he is not a cypriot coin dealer at all.what is he worried about that he has to send such an email,starting
"i didnt know who else to send this email too" this guy lives in a democratic country,not a police state.why dont he try writing to a member of parliament.
"cyprus is a cultural disaster zone" in what way?? i just dont see it.cyprus is not like any other country in the world in my eyes,anywhere you dig you will find something and its not easy to police that.what i do see in cyprus is dedicated archaeologists and museum curators working for peanuts because they love what they do and doing the best they can.
as i said in the past ,im not in favour of an mou on cypriot coins as i agree that these could have been traded far and wide but an mou for antiquities,is a must and the reason being that the island is devided and the ligitamate government has lost total control of over %40 of its territory.looting in the north of churches and archaeological sites is a sad fact,as the seizure of many pieces by the cypriot government from auction houses abroad has proven.all this dealer is worried about is being able to trade in ancient coins and making a quick buck,he cares nothing about cyprus,his email proves that.
ps,money is short now in cyprus but watch this space,in 5 years time,cyprus could be one of then biggest oil/gas suppliers in the middle east.