On 3 May 2019, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, as part of his working visit to France, attended an informal meeting of EU Member State ministers to discuss the creation of an EU cooperation mechanism for the safeguarding of national cultural heritage and handling critical situations, as well as possibilities for young people to engage in the protection and restoration of heritage.
In his remarks to the audience, Edgars Rinkēvičs said that Latvia was prepared to offer assistance and engage Latvian restoration experts for the rebuilding works in Notre-Dame Cathedral devastated by fire on 15 April. The Minister also expressed Latvia’s support for the initiative of setting up an EU mechanism of safeguarding the endangered national cultural heritage. He also drew the participants’ attention to the need for the new mechanism to complement the existing ones, for instance, the schemes established by the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO), the Council of Europe, and others.
“The fire in Notre-dame Cathedral is too great a sacrifice to raising public awareness of the need for being better prepared for critical situations; however, this tragic disaster is a lesson and a pivotal point in the history of the protection of cultural heritage,” said the Latvian Foreign Minister.
At the informal meeting, the ministers approved a declaration on the preservation and protection of cultural heritage thereby making a commitment to advance rapidly towards the establishment of a European network for the coordination of national expertise in cultural heritage, to provide opportunities for young people to contribute to the protection and restoration of cultural heritage, and to improve the existing financial instruments aimed at safeguarding the endangered cultural heritage.
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