On Thursday, 15 June, Ms Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, Minister for Justice, and Mr Nauris Puntulis, Minister for Culture, opened an international conference "The Nicosia Convention: criminal legal response to criminal offences related to cultural property". Experts in the field representing 28 countries will discuss on how to respond legally to criminal offences related to cultural values. Particular attention will be paid to the situation in Ukraine, where, following the full-scale war launched by Russia in the territory of an independent state, both movable and immovable cultural heritage is under threat, collections of cultural and historical value are being purposefully stolen, and illegally acquired cultural objects may be smuggled out.

At the opening the conference, Minister for Justice Inese Lībiņa-Egnere said: "Latvia, together with other allies, will tirelessly remind Europe and the whole world of the need to hold Russia accountable for all the damage it has caused. I am convinced that Russia will have to pay for every work of art stolen by its army, for every monument of architecture destroyed by it."

The conference will discuss the role of the Nicosia Convention in preventing criminal offences related to cultural monuments, as well as responding to offences related to cultural property in conflict situations and afterwards. It should be noted that the Nicosia Convention is the only international agreement that criminalises the destruction, damage of and illicit trafficking in cultural property. 

"Preserving cultural values is a shared concern of every society, every country and all of us, showing what kind of future we are building with what values. It is particularly worrying to realise that cultural property is being increasingly targeted and destroyed, both in peace and in war. As an irreplaceable and irretrievable resource, their protection therefore deserves our utmost attention and closest cooperation. This conference is particularly important: it helps two seemingly different sectors to learn each other's language, to seek and find the best ways of cooperation to work together towards common goals. As Latvia takes over the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for the second time, we have set as our goal to strengthen the political role, influence and recognisability of the organisation in Europe.  This conference is a call to join forces by joining the Nicosia Convention to obtain a powerful tool to fight crime against culture", stressed Minister for Culture Nauris Puntulis at the conference.

The conference is organised by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Culture, the European Committee on Crime Problems and the Council of Europe's Committee on Culture, Heritage and Landscapes within the framework of the presidency of Latvia of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.



Photo author: Oskars Artūrs Upenieks/The Ministry of Culture