Baltic and Polish ministers of culture urge ICCROM to respond sternly to Russia’s military aggression and attacks against Ukraine’s cultural heritage

Date

2022 03 30

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Minister of Culture Simonas Kairys has initiated the joint appeal by the Baltic and Polish ministers of culture to the management of International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM).

The letter by Simonas Kairys, Latvia‘s Minister of Culture Nauris Puntulis, Estonia‘s Minister of Culture Tiit Terik and Poland‘s Minister of Culture and National Heritage Piotr Gliński urges the international organisation to publicly condemn the military aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and its people and the aggressor’s attacks against Ukraine’s cultural heritage.

“Aside from other great suffering caused to the people of Ukraine, the Russian military forces attack, threaten to attack or otherwise harm Ukraine’s cultural and cultural heritage values, for example, art galleries and museums, monuments, cultural and natural objects, including World Heritage Sites and other prominent locations and monuments. For instance, in Kyiv, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Site was damaged, Mariupol's Drama Theatre was intentionally bombed, the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum in Kyiv Oblast was burned down. The Chernihiv Historical Centre, which is included in the preliminary list of World Heritage Sites, was damaged. All of this shows that the Russian Federation ignores the commitments made in accordance with the UNESCO Constitution and conventions, including the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict”, joint letter by the ministers of culture says.

The appeal notes that Russia’s military aggression against independent and sovereign Ukraine as well as the continuing intentional attacks against Ukraine’s cultural heritage are contrary to the mission, vision and values of the ICCROM, the organisation which was founded after World War II in order to preserve, protect and rebuild what was destroyed. Because of this, one of the main goals of the ICCROM, which is to protect cultural heritage during crises, obligates it to take immediate actions.

The appeal urges the organisation to not only publicly condemn the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine and its people as well as the aggressor’s attacks against Ukraine’s cultural heritage but also to suspend Russia’s participation in the activities of the ICCROM. Also, the appeal urges to take action in order to provide financial, technical and international support to Ukraine in accordance with the powers of the ICCROM. It requests for the ICCROM member states to be informed on the planned actions and, if needed, for a special session of the ICCROM General Assembly to be held.

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