Tiziana Zennaro: Speech at the project completion ceremony of Profitis Elias Church

Nov 23, 2015

Your Excellencies, Dear Representatives of the European Union, Dear colleagues from the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, Dear Residents, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme I join my colleagues in welcoming you this morning to Profitis Elias Church completion ceremony.

Over four years ago, in 2012, UNDP was called by the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage and the European Union to support the restoration and conservation of selected Cypriot heritage sites.

When we signed the contribution agreement with the European Union we had to come up with a name for this project.

After numerous discussions we all agreed on “Support to Monuments of Great Importance for the communities of Cyprus”. Today, as we celebrate completion of one of the last projects planned under Phase 1, I am convinced that we couldn’t have chosen a better title.

A monument of great importance is not necessarily a big monument in terms of square meters, nor is it the most ancient one. It is not the one architecturally more unique, nor the most expensive one (the conservation of Profitis Elias Church cost approx. 130,000 Euro fully funded by the European Union under the Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community).

These all are characteristics of great importance of course.

But a monument of great importance for a community is a monument where old and new memories meet, a place that goes beyond worship to develop new feelings of common belonging and understanding.

We have witnessed this in all the 13 projects completed so far island-wide. In the small mosque of Evretou/Evretu and in the small Panagia Church in Trachoni/Demirhan hundreds of former residents joined, at their own initiatives, the completion ceremonies.

We see it here today with your presence, old and new residents, as well as throughout the implementation of the project in your visits and expression of interests in the progress of the works.

Today we also stand just 2km away from where we first started three years ago. The recently conserved Mosque of Deneia/Denya is only 2km far from the Church of Profitis Elias on the other side of the buffer zone.

Profitis Elias Church is also architecturally very similar to the small Maronite Old St.George Church in Kormakitis/Kormacit which we celebrated on Saturday.

This mixed geographies (a restored minaret in the south and a preserved bell in the north) and mixed architecture styles talk to us of one Cypriot heritage and this confirms the understanding of what constitutes “great importance” in cultural heritage.

Today we handover Profitis Elias Church to you. Your next challenge will be to ensure the correct maintenance and upkeep of this as well as of all the other completed projects. This task requires partnerships and collaboration from all parties involved including the local communities.

UNDP stands ready to support you in this process.

Let me conclude by thanking the European Union for funding this project and the colleagues on the ground Ms. Michela Foresti and Mr. Agustin Moya-Colorado for their continued support to our work in the field of cultural heritage in Cyprus.

Thank you to my friends and colleagues of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, to the designers, the contractor and the local residents.

Last but not least thank you to my UNDP colleagues.

Thank you.


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