NICOSIA -- Cyprus and China signed here on Tuesday a bilateral agreement for the prevention of the theft, the clandestine excavation and illicit import and export of cultural property between the two countries.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus by the Minister of Communications and Works Tasos Mitsopoulos and on behalf of the People’s Republic of China by Deputy Culture Minister Li Xiaojie.
The agreement determines ways of strengthening cooperation between the two countries in relation to the prevention of the theft, clandestine excavation and illicit import and export of cultural property, through the exchange of information, relevant legislation and good practices, training of staff, as well as exchange of information when antiquities from the other country are discovered in international art markets.
As regards the Republic of Cyprus, the agreement can further contribute to efforts to prevent the illicit trade of cultural treasures looted from the occupied areas of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.
In a statement after the signing of the agreement, Mitsopoulos said that this is a very important moment for the Republic of Cyprus, as the People’s Republic of China is an important partner of Cyprus at all levels.
He noted that Cyprus has suffered serious damage from illicit transport and the smuggling of its antiquities, adding that “we consider that Cyprus will be a useful collaborator in our efforts to protect our antiquities and of course Chinese antiquities from the illegal activities of illegal dealers.”
Furthermore, he said that he had the chance to discuss with the Chinese officials and his associates ways of further developing bilateral relations, adding that they have in principle agreed to deepen this cooperation, promoting exchanges of experts, archaeologists, by undertaking joint projects for the conservation-restoration of antiquities and murals.
“We are discussing about the prospect of organizing archaeological exhibitions,” he noted, adding that despite the close relations between the two countries, China and Cyprus have not so far exchanged archaeological exhibitions.
Speaking through an interpreter, the Chinese Deputy Minister described the signing of the agreement as historic, noting that it constitutes a landmark in the history of the two countries, cultural exchanges and cooperation.
“Thanks to the commitment of the leaders of the two countries and the hard efforts made by the Ministry of Culture of China and the Ministry of Communications and Works of Cyprus today we all witnessed the signing of this agreement,” he noted.
He stressed that “we will continue to step up our efforts for cooperation” adding that “we would like to exchange antiquities, we would like to exchange exhibitions, we would also like to exchange experts in different workshops with a view to enrich the cultural life of the two countries’ peoples.”
The agreement between the two countries was initialed on May 8, 2008, and concerns Cypriot and Chinese antiquities from the prehistoric ages until the 20th century AD.