Culture Deputy Minister offers help to protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage in EU Council in Brussels

The European Union’s support to Ukraine in the field of culture, the Council Work Plan for Culture 2023-2026 and the progress of European Media Freedom Act were on the agenda of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council of the EU, in its Ministers of Culture formation, which was held in Brussels on Tuesday.

For the first time Cyprus was represented in the Culture Council of the EU by its Deputy Minister for Culture Yiannis Toumazis, who spoke of possible ways to support Ukraine’s cultural and creative sector by providing expertise on combating the looting and trafficking of cultural heritage, as well as assessing the state of the country’s monuments.

The Deputy Ministry of Culture was established earlier this year. Until recently, the country was represented in Culture Councils by the Minister of Education.

The Council focused on support and solidarity with Ukraine in the field of culture, including cultural heritage. The meeting was physically attended by Ukrainian Minister of Culture, Oleksandr Tkachenko.

In his intervention, the Deputy Minister of Culture expressed Cyprus’ full support to Ukraine, stressing that Cyprus is experiencing the effects of war on culture and cultural heritage due to the Turkish invasion and ongoing occupation.

He also referred to possible ways to support Ukraine’s cultural and creative sector by providing expertise on combating the looting and trafficking of cultural heritage, as well as assessing the state of the country’s monuments. He added that Cyprus is alert and ready to take immediate action in case stolen antiquities or cultural property from Ukraine are identified, noting that the country can also provide support through the Cypriot expert who participates in a relevant UNESCO Commission.

Toumazis stressed that the EU’s assistance to Ukraine for the conservation and preservation of affected monuments and cultural property should be provided with a view to achieving substantial, long-term and sustainable results.

Toumazis also said that the Deputy Ministry is coordinating with the Crisis Management Centre of the Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs Management Unit and is exploring ways to support the Ukrainian people and their urgent needs, including in the cultural sector. He concluded by calling on EU Member States to ratify the “Nicosia Convention”, which provides for the criminalisation of offences of destruction, trafficking and trafficking in cultural property.

The Ministers for Culture also adopted a resolution on the Council Work Plan for Culture for the period 2023-2026, which includes priorities for cooperation in the field of culture, including cultural heritage, as well as a significant number of actions expected to be implemented by 2026.

The Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU also presented a progress report on European Media Freedom Act, reflecting the reception of the Commission’s proposal by the Member States and their position with regard to its key points.

Toumazis pointed out that the European Media Freedom Act will contribute to the strengthening of democracy in Europe, and noted that Cyprus intends to contribute constructively to the discussions that will follow.

After the Council was concluded, Toumazis travelled to the Netherlands for meetings with cultural institutions and organisations. The Deputy Minister of Culture will also visit the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, of which he is a graduate, where, he will also meet and talk to Cypriot and other students.

Source: Cyprus News Agency