International conference „The struggle against looting of cultural heritage in Syria”


International Conference was held on September 16 in Sofia, at Hotel Balkan, under the patronage of UNESCO, organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway and the Norwegian Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Bulgaria, Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus and the Dutch NGO “Walk of Truth”.

The conference was opened with speeches by H.E. Guro Katharina H. Vikør, Ambassador of Norway in Bulgaria, Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Rumyana Bachvarova, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Vezhdi Rashidov, Minister of Culture of Bulgaria, Ms. Polina Karastoyanova, Chairman of the Commission of Culture and Media at the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria, H.E. Stavros Avgustidis, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus in Bulgaria and Mr. Carsten Paludan-Müller, CEO of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU).

H.E. Guro Katharina H. Vikør, Mr. Carsten Paludan-Müller, Ms. Irina Bokova,
Ms. Rumyana Bachvarova, Mr. Vezhdi Rashidov, Ms. Polina Karastoyanova and H.E. Stavros Avgustidis

The international conference was attended by Mr. Kiril Arnautski – Chairman of Sozopol Foundation and Ms. Lyubov Draganova – chief expert of International Programmes and projects at the Foundation.

With its relevance the conference’s topic attracted great interest. It was discussed issues related to protection of diverse cultural heritage, to illicit trafficking of cultural property, to looting and destruction of cultural heritage of Syria, to implementation of the enshrined in the Conventions and Resolutions of the UN and UNESCO recommendations for the preservation of tangible heritage, as well as to the need for decisive action by the international community to prevent the destruction of cultural and historical memory of humanity.

At the conference Mr. Arnautski spoke with Ms. Irina Bokova – Director General of UNESCO, H.E. Guro Katharina H. Vikør, Ambassador of Norway in Bulgaria and Mr. Sheamus Cassidy, the Office of the EEA Financial Mechanism.