On July 22, 2020, the First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Chairperson of the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO Emine Dzhaparova chaired a meeting with experts in the sphere of safeguarding cultural heritage, held at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
During the meeting, the issues of protection of cultural heritage, educational and cultural rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea as well as ways of improving the cooperation between Ukrainian expert community and the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO on this issue, were discussed.
E.Dzhaparova stressed the need to do more to involve the high intellectual and professional potential of civil society experts and activists as well as their information and factual data in the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government bodies of Ukraine aimed at implementing international legal mechanisms for the protection of cultural heritage properties in the territory of the temporarily occupied peninsula.
The participants of the meeting provided numerous examples of gross violations of Ukrainian legislation and international law, in particular relevant UNESCO conventions, by the Russian occupation authorities, – illegal archeological excavations, construction works and other unlawful activities – that cause significant damage to Ukrainian cultural heritage sites in the temporarily occupied Crimea.
A cause of particular concern is the situation regarding the state of conservation of the “Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora” inscribed in the World Heritage List, as well as properties inscribed in the Tentative List, foremost the Bagçesaray Palace of Crimean Khans.
The participants stressed the importance of an effective UNESCO monitoring of the situation in the temporarily occupied Crimea within its fields of competence. They also called for application of mechanisms for protection of cultural heritage provided by UNESCO legal instruments, in particular the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict to which Ukraine had recently acceded.