Extension of the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States And the Government of the Republic of Cyprus Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Pre-Classical and Classical Archaeological Objects and Byzantine Period Ecclesiastical and Ritual Ethnological Materials
July 16, 2012
• On July 16, 2002, the Government of the United States and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus entered into a bilateral agreement, or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), to impose import restrictions on categories of Pre-Classical and Classical archaeological objects from Cyprus.
• The MOU is in response to a request from the Government of the Republic of Cyprus seeking protection of its cultural heritage under Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Cyprus was the first country in the Mediterranean region to seek the help of the United States in protecting its cultural property.
• Prior to entering into this agreement, the U.S. had imposed an emergency import restriction on Byzantine ecclesiastical and ritual ethnological material from Cyprus.
• Eventually, in 2006, the MOU was amended to include Byzantine material with the archaeological material.
• In 2007, the MOU was extended and amended again.
• With the extension of the MOU announced on July 13, 2012, import restrictions will remain in effect for another five years. The extension reflects the strong commitment of the United States to help safeguard Cypriot heritage by reducing the incentive for further pillage, and it offers further opportunities for collaboration in such varied fields as archaeology, history of art and architecture, heritage preservation, and law enforcement.
• At the same time, the U.S. has extended the historical timeframe for the protection of ecclesiastical and ritual ethnological materials to 1850 A.D (through the Post-Byzantine Period).
• The United States has concluded 14 such bilateral agreements, which aim to reduce the incentive for further pillage of partner countries’ cultural heritage and to combat illicit trafficking in antiquities. Such agreements also inform those who participate in the art and antiquities market by placing a bright line between legitimate and illegitimate imports.
• This MOU with Cyprus is one of three in the region. The others are with Italy and Greece.
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