VILNIUS – Lithuanian Culture Minister Simonas Kairys, who is visiting Kyiv on Friday, described as absurd the situation where Russia, which waging war in Ukraine and destroying the country, is chairing UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.
"Yesterday we heard the news that there will be no session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Kazan," the minister said in a press release. "The Saint Sophia Cathedral, which we visited today, is a symbol of the history and statehood of Ukraine, a grand and culturally rich country."
"We would like to once again emphasize the absurdity of the situation in which Russia is still the chair of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, whose aim is to preserve, not to destroy," he said.
Kairys is visiting Ukraine together with Polish Vice Prime Minister and Culture and National Heritage Minister Piotr Glinski at the invitation of Ukraine's Culture and Information Policy Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko, according to the press release.
"The purpose of their visit is to support Ukraine in countering the aggression of the Russian Federation on the cultural and information fronts," it said.
Russia announced this week that it has indefinitely postponed the June meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Kazan, which was due to consider an application from Lithuania's second-largest city of Kaunas to include its modernist architecture on the World Heritage List.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says this might mean that Russia expects to host the session in the second half of the year.
Kairys believes, however, that Moscow had been informed through diplomatic channels that a number of countries would not attend the session in Kazan.
Lithuania's position is that Russia, which is destroying cultural heritage in Ukraine, should be removed as the chair of the World Heritage Committee and that another venue should be chosen for the committee's session.
Landsbergis has said Lithuania "will pursue this goal, including through our diplomats".