29.05.2012 – Press Release – Educational Trip by the Biblical Archaeology Society from Turkey to Cyprus

In the present press release the Association of Cypriot Archaeologists would like to bring to your attention the serious issue that arose due to the upcoming educational trip organized by the Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) in Turkey and Cyprus, 1-15 June 2012 entitled “In the footsteps of the Apostle Paul.” The intention of the organizers is to enter Cyprus through the illegal airport at Tymbou and after an overnight stay in Kyrenia to enter on 12/6 the unoccupied part of the island in order to visit archaeological sites and monuments. Related information can be found on the website of BAS.

The Biblical Archaeology Society is an internationally renowned, non-profit organization based in the U.S. and aims at dissemination of archaeological knowledge about the areas mentioned in the Bible. The consequences of such a journey at a cultural and political level will be severe, as due to the action of entering Cyprus through an illegal airport they contribute to the recognition of an illegal regime in the occupied areas and exhibit unacceptable tolerance in the brutal sacking and looting of archaeological and cultural heritage of the Republic of Cyprus in the north, occupied areas. By ignoring international law, human rights and the relevant UN resolutions, they are challenging and provoking the international archaeological community, but also each and every law-abiding citizen no matter of descent or origin.

Numerous letters of protest by the government, academic institutions and individuals have already been sent directly to BAS, all of which highlight the consequences of such an act. In a reply letter sent from BAS (attached below) they seem to completely ignore the political, legal, scientific and ethical aspects in an offensive manner for the organizations involved in the protection, research and promotion of Cyprus’ cultural heritage, but also in a manner that goes against every principle of legality.

Based on all the above, as well as the seriousness of the issues raised and the denial of BAS to enter the country from legal entry points, we invite the relevant bodies of the state on the one hand to immediately regulate any loopholes that allow misinterpretation of the law and challenge the sovereignty of the Republic, and on the other hand to enforce the laws in connection with illegal entry into the territory of the Republic.

As the Association of Cypriot Archaeologists we underline the need for taking measures to protect and respect our cultural heritage and international law. Towards this end, the Association of Cypriot Archaeologists has sent letters to the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Greece, the Archaeological Institute of America and the American Schools of Oriental Research.

On behalf of the Board of the Association of Cypriot Archaeologists