Monday, October 23, 2017
The ‘Ancient Civilizations Forum’ held in Athens, Greece on April 24, established an international partnership of cultural cooperation in order to protect and save heritage sites at risk from extremism and destruction.
Ministers and ambassadors from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Greece, Italy, China, India, Bolivia, Mexico, and Peru, agreed to work together to develop strategies to fight the destruction of cultural heritage. The forum, initiated by Greece and China, aims to combine efforts in order to combat so-called Islamic State’s continuous destruction of ancient sites in Syria and northern Iraq. Since 2014, the terrorist organization has destroyed hundreds of sites throughout Iraq, Syria, and Libya including the world heritage sites of Palmyra, Nineveh, and Nimrud.
Nikos Kotzias, Greek foreign minister, said the group would encourage “dialogue in the face of fanaticism, and culture in the face of terrorism.” China’s foreign minister Wang Yi added: “We’re only just getting started.” (Artnet) Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari stated: “We support dialogue between civilizations against the intolerance of which Daesh is a symbol,” (Times of Israel).
Although no formal strategies have been yet been developed for combatting threats to heritage, this is a critical step towards creating a framework for the protection and safeguarding of cultural heritage. In March, France, Saudi Arabia, and a number of other countries and individual donors pledged $75.5 million for a UNESCO-backed fund with the purpose to protect cultural heritage against war and terrorism (Artnet).
According to the members of the Ancient Civilization’s Forum, the next meeting will be held in 2018 in Bolivia. Already, a number of countries have expressed their willingness to host future annual meetings including Peru in 2020 and Iraq in 2021.
*Image: AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/Getty Images.
Posted in: Heritage News