The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that he would like to discuss the issue of demining Palmyra and the mobilization of the efforts of the UN and UNESCO to return an original image of the cultural heritage facilities with UN special envoy in Syria Staffan de Mistura at a meeting in Moscow. UNESCO has already established an emergency fund on Syria, which is aimed at the restoration of Palmyra.
Russia's permanent representative to UNESCO, Eleanora Mitrofanova, explained that today about 3 million dollars are accumulated in this fund: “Most of this amount was provided by the European Union, as well as the Flemish government. In addition, Italy, which has signed a special memorandum with UNESCO, actively participates in all of these events, the development and the implementation of the action plan. But it concerns not only Palmyra, it concerns different kinds of objects that are under threat, as well as those objects that are suffering from natural disasters. We are also working on a so-called memorandum of understanding with UNESCO right now, but more narrowly, only regarding Syria. Various types of educational seminars for archaeologists are held by the UNESCO Office in Beirut, which works with the Syrian objects, so that they would understand what the international instruments are for the protection of historical and cultural heritage.”
At the same time, according to Mitrofanova, any work can begin only when security conditions allow it: “The UN has special requirements for security even after demining – whether the security conditions would allow an international group to go there. Our president stated that Russia is ready to provide security for the experts who will go there. Here, perhaps, in this matter, it is important to avoid the crowding which can happen. The Italians are actively offering their specialists, the Germans have excellent specialists, the British, we also have them, of course. So many things will depend on UNESCO itself, how they will actually form this whole group.”
Eleanora Mitrofanova urged the Ministry of Culture to make a list of experts in different fields: archaeologists, culturologists, museum workers, who have experience in the restoration of such monuments. “So that when D-Day begins, we would not search for such experts in a panic, we would already have them. It would be great for these people to speak other languages, because it is an international group.”