The conservation of important archaeological and historic monuments is a priority for the government. However, private property forms the major part of the architectural heritage of the island. For its protection, conservation and enhancement, the co-operation of the private and public sectors is important. The government’s commitment to the Preservation process is materialized through relevant Legislation and other actions. It has a regulatory and a pro-active role as it seeks to promote private interests and investment guaranteeing financial support for the rehabilitation of listed properties and privately owned ancient monuments through grants, tax deductions and other incentives (eg. transfer of development rights for Listed Buildings).
The priorities of the Preservation strategy includes:
- Promoting digitalization and enrichment of inventories,
- improving existing laws and regulations for the protection of buildings, areas and monuments,
- enforcing effective controls,
- revising financial incentives for the rehabilitation of listed buildings and ancient monuments,
- implementing conservation and restoration schemes,
- increasing local authorities’ involvement by enabling access to sufficient conservation and archaeological expertise and by increasing their staff specialized on cultural heritage matters,
- preparing detailed design training in the field of built cultural heritage in order to develop heritage skills and technique,
- drafting guidelines for major conservation,
- promoting the participation of citizens in heritage related matters,
- improving public access (open days, special events, etc.) and;
- including cultural heritage issues in all stages of education.
The responsibility for cultural heritage lies into three institutions of central government:
1. The Department of Town Planning & Housing (Ministry of Interior), which is the Cyprus government’s department responsible for spatial and land-use planning development control as well as cultural heritage and landscape’s preservation. Its competencies in the field of cultural heritage comprise the inclusion of appropriate policies in Development Plans and Listed Buildings management. The Department is responsible for the issuance of Preservation Orders for buildings, group of buildings and areas of architectural, historic, and social and other special interests, for the issuance of Planning Permits (Consents) for the rehabilitation of Listed Buildings as well as for the management of grants. It undertakes research and surveys in relation to architectural heritage and landscape and manages the Architectural Heritage Archive. It offers advice, guidance as well as awareness-raising and educational activities in relation to cultural heritage.
2. The Department of Antiquities (Ministry of Communication and Public Works) which is responsible for the management of the archaeological heritage of Cyprus. The Department's main areas of activity and responsibility include the systematic and rescue excavations as well as archaeological surveys, the establishment, management and operation of archaeological museums, and the conservation, restoration, protection and promotion of Ancient Monuments in the First and Second Schedule of the Antiquities Law, of archaeological sites and of monuments of architectural heritage.
One of the aims of the Department of Antiquities is also the use of both ancient monuments and archaeological museums for educational purposes and cultural activities, as well as for the stimulation of cultural tourism. In order to achieve it, the Department of Antiquities organizes conferences, exhibitions and lectures both in Cyprus and abroad.
3. The Cultural Services which comes under the Ministry of Education and Culture. Their responsibilities are to promote cultural awareness by fostering the creative drive in the field of Letters and Arts both in individuals and groups, making culture available to all, in order to promote a greater participation and receptiveness on behalf of the public and disseminating and projecting cultural achievements abroad in order to highlight its links with international culture.
Cyprus has ratified the following conventions on cultural heritage:
- UNESCO, Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (The Hague, 1954), entry into force 7 August 1956, Accession 9 September 1964, (Law No. 12/1971)
- UNESCO, Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property 1970, Ratified 19 October 1979, (Law No. 61/1979).
- UNESCO, Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage 1972, Entry into force 17 December 1975,acceptance 14 August 1975 (Law No. 23/1975).
- Council of Europe, European Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe (Granada 1985), ratified on 7 January, 1987 (Law No. 165/1988).
- Council of Europe, European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Valetta, Malta 1992), ratified on 26 April, 2000 (Law No. 9(III)/2000).
- UNIDROIT, Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995), entry into force 1 July 1998, accession 2 March 2004 (Law No. 5(III)/2003).
- Council of Europe, European Landscape Convention, ratified on 21June, 2006 (Law No. 4(III)/2006).
- UNESCO, Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (Paris 2003) Ratified by Cyprus 24 February 2006,(Law No. 50(III)/2005.)
- UNESCO, Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (Paris 2005), Ratified by Cyprus 19 December 2006, (Law No. 30(III)/2006).