Tiziana Zennaro: Speech at Agios Afksentios project completion ceremony

Jun 4, 2015

UNDP-PFF Programme Manager Tiziana Zennaro handing over the keys of the Church to the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage. UNDP Photo/Olkan Erguler, 4 June 2015.

Your Eminence, Distinguish guests, Members of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, Dear European Commission Colleagues, Dear residents of Komi Kepir/Buyukkonuk, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome also on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme to Agios Afksentios Church at today’s completion ceremony.

There is no doubt that from the last time we met at the Paphos Hamam, things have changed on the island and a new atmosphere is around us. This is perhaps the biggest reward for all those who worked to make changes a reality like our friends from the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage and many Greek and Turkish Cypriots like you.

I am sure that most of you have private memories of this area.  Family memories, community memories or daily-lives memories. Those of you who live here might walk every day in front of it to go home or on their way to school or work.
Regardless of our faith, we all recognize this landmark as our heritage, because it is part of our lives environment and we like it to be here.

Today, together, we are making new memories. Memories of peace, trust, and respect. And one day we will be able to tell our grandchildren, about that day that our church brought us together.

We strongly believe that cultural heritage has this power, and this is why together with the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage we have decided to escalate this project from emergency measures to conservation.
The project was fully funded by the European Union. The total cost - including additional safety items, design and works - was approx. 230,000 Euro.

Works on this Church were long, as it deserved, and they included, amongst other things: the strengthening of walls and vaults, replacement of broken/cracked or heavily weathered stones with new ones, repair of the church roof and apse semi dome, new wooden doors and windows, and the proper protection of a mural painting by a specialized conservator. The Holy Altar has also been partially reconstructed.

We hope to return to you a monument that is as similar to what you remembered as possible.

Let me take this opportunity to thank the European Commission and the colleagues on the ground for having made this project possible. Thank you also to our friends and colleagues of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage and its Advisory Board and to all the designers, architects and engineers, and experts who worked on this project. Last but not least my wonderful UNDP – PFF team who made all this possible.

Thank you  to all of you for being with us today.

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