Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman M.V. Zakharova: about the position of UNESCO on restoring Palmyra

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10.08.2018

We were asked about the position of UNESCO and the actions that this international organization took in order to restore Palmyra. I'd like to say that the position of UNESCO on restoring Palmyra is based on the necessity to strictly respect the terms of the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972 and its Guidelines, I am referring to the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. In the meantime the powers of this organization concerning heritage protection are realized according to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954, the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 1970, and the UN Security Council Resolutions 2199 and 2253 (they're aimed to protect cultural property in the event of armed conflict), as well as the UN Security Council Resolution 2347 aimed to protect cultural heritage in danger.

Following the results of the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee in Manama (Bahrain, June 24 - July 4) it was advised to refrain from restoring sites in Syria until the expert mission of UNESCO arrived in the country, but at the same time the possibility to dispatch such a mission in the short term wasn't even discussed and was contingent upon "security conditions". The UN Security makes decisions if such conditions exist.

This being said, according to UNESCO more than 50 measures aimed to protect the Syrian Cultural Heritage were taken, a base from almost 700 artifacts from around the world was formed, some artefacts in Palmyra were restored, 170 historic buildings in Aleppo were estimated, photos and documents in danger were digitized from March, 2014 till April, 2018 within the three-year Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Cultural Heritage project that was financed by the European Union and in which participated specialised centres and institutions.