The Head of Mission of EUAM Iraq Dr. Markus Ritter was invited as a guest speaker in a conference on NATO and Cultural Property Protection - Embracing New Challenges in the Era of Identity Wars, which took place on 15-16 April in Brussels.
The concern for cultural property stands as a core NATO value including the moral obligation to respect other people’s values and preserve cultural property for future generations. During the conference several aspects on protection of cultural heritage were discussed such as; What ways has cultural property played a role in recent NATO led operations? What are the various connections between terrorism and cultural property destructions? What can be expected for the future?
Iraq is home to many of the large archaeological sites of the world. The country hosts five UNESCO World Heritage sites; Ashur, Erbil Citadel, Hatra, Samarra archaeological city and Ahwar. There has been a tremendous destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq during the recent wars and fighting especially after 2003.
EUAM Iraq has organized two workshops on protection of cultural heritage in June 2018 and January 2019. In the first workshop the focus was on identifying the main challenges Iraq’s security authorities face in protecting and repatriating cultural heritage. The second workshop aimed to further explore ways of cooperation between different national and international agencies.
EUAM Iraq continues to work on cross-departmental, inter-ministerial and international information exchange as well as specialised workshops on protection of cultural heritage. In the beginning of 2019, the Mission deployed a senior strategic advisor on protection of cultural heritage to work in the Federal Intelligence and Investigative Agency (FIIA). The Mission’s strategic advisors on border management also support Iraq in it’s fight against smuggling of antiquities out of Iraq.