Repatriation of four icons of the occupied Church of Christ Antiphonitis in Kalograia from the Netherlands
The Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus in the Hague Dr Kyriacos Kouros and the Director-General of Culture and Media at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, Mrs. Marjan Hammersma, signed on September 18, 2013, a Deed of Transfer to the Republic of Cyprus of four icons which were stolen from the occupied Church of Christ Antiphonitis in Kalograia. The signing took place during a ceremony at the Dutch Ministry of Education.
The case relates to the icons of Saint Peter, Saint John, Saint Mark and Saint Paul, which date approximately to the 16th century. The President of the Synodical Committee for Monuments and Art of the Church of Cyprus, Bishop of Neapolis Porfyrios and the Conservator of the Department of Antiquities Mrs. Stella Pissaridou were also present at the ceremony.
The icons are repatriated following a request submitted by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus to the Netherlands, based on the provisions of the 2007 Dutch Law on restitution of cultural goods originating from an occupied territory. The said Dutch Law is based on the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its First Protocol, which, inter alia, provides that each contracting state undertakes to return to the authorities of the State of origin cultural property which has been exported illegally from an occupied territory. It is worth mentioning that the Church of Cyprus claimed the repatriation of the said icons in Court in the period 1995-2002.
The Republic of Cyprus expresses its warm appreciation to the Netherlands for the return of the icons to Cyprus. This gesture underlines the strong friendship and the unwavering commitment of both countries for the protection of the common European cultural heritage, of which the cultural heritage in the occupied part of Cyprus constitutes an inseparable part. It also reaffirms the need for respect of the provisions of the 1954 Hague Convention and its Protocols by all the contracting States.