Lithuania calls on UNESCO to move heritage committee's session from Russia

  • 2022-04-07
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called on UNESCO to move the next session of its World Heritage Committee from Kazan, saying that allowing Russia to host the event would show "a cynical disrespect" to the victims of the war in Ukraine. 

During UNESCO's Executive Board session in Paris, Landsbergis urged Audrey Azoulay, the organization's director-general, in a letter to relocate the committee's session, scheduled for June 2022, from Kazan and to stop Russia from chairing the event. 

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said in a press release on Thursday that the letter had also been forwarded to members of the UNESCO Executive Board and of the World Heritage Committee.

In his letter, Landsbergis called Russia's aggression against Ukraine "a flagrant desecration of the order based on international rules".

"By wantonly destroying Ukraine's cultural and historical heritage, religious sites, museums, schools and monuments, including those marked with the emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention, Russia is breaking its obligations under the Convention and is in flagrant violation of international law," the minister was quoted as saying. 

"It would be absurdly cynical to hold the UNESCO World Heritage Committee's session in Russia while the Russian war machine is on the rampage in Ukraine," he said, adding that " "the civilized world must realize this and take the appropriate decisions". 

Vilnius also calls on UNESCO to review its legal system to prevent representatives of countries that violate the UN Charter from holding leadership positions in the organization in the future.

Lithuanian Culture Minister Simonas Kairys has said that he sees "no point" in attending the World Heritage Committee's session if it is hosted by Russia as planned.