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This is an archived USAID document retained on this web site as a matter of public record.

USAID-Financed Restoration of Church and Mosque on Cyprus Supports Cultural Heritage and Tolerance


U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
PRESS RELEASE


WASHINGTON, DC 20523
PRESS OFFICE
http://www.usaid.gov
(202) 712-4320

2002-070

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 5, 2002

Contact: USAID Press Office

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Agency for International Development announced the completion of the initial phase of two major restoration projects in Cyprus. The renovations will restore two of the country's most important cultural sites - the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Apostolos Andreas and Hala Sultan Tekke, a Moslem mosque.

As part of USAID's $60 million grant to the United Nations Development Program, the $5 million restorations were hailed by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan as a "very constructive step forward." The projects promote mutual understanding and tolerance between the geographically separated Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities and have taken place as unprecedented negotiations for a political settlement are ongoing between the two groups.

USAID Assistant Administrator Dr. Kent Hill echoed the sentiments of the U.N. Secretary General and noted that "this restoration, bringing together the two ethnic communities, is a sign of mutual respect for the island's multi-ethnic past and a symbol of peaceful coexistence." Symbolic of the project's cultural tolerance, Greek Orthodox Cypriots are restoring the Moslem mosque while Muslim Turkish Cypriots are working on the monastery.

The Monastery of Apostolos Andreas is located near the spot where St. Andrew is said to have come ashore for water while on a voyage from the Holy Land to Greece in the first century A.D. Hala Sultan Tekke, one of the holiest sites in Islam, is the most important religious location for Cypriot Muslims. It is revered as the burial site of Umm Haram, a close follower of the Prophet, and is one of the earliest Islamic sites dedicated to a woman.

U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Donald K. Bandler visited both sites to review the work accomplished to date. In a time when cultural icons are often the target of destructive forces, Ambassador Bandler called this "an inspiring example of two sides with unresolved differences cooperating to preserve their shared cultural heritage."

The USAID-funded restorations are implemented through the U.N. Bicommunal Development Program. They are one of many multi-sectoral, practical initiatives through which Greek and Turkish Cypriots carry out projects in areas of common concern. These projects address a wide range of issues that transcend the boundaries separating the two communities, including protection of the environment; maintenance of shared infrastructure; strengthening of civil society organizations, especially those focused on gender and youth; and tackling of public health concerns.


USAID is the government agency providing U.S. economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more than 40 years.

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Last Updated on: December 30, 2008