43rd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee is being held in Baku. 36 proposals on inclusion of various cultural and natural sites from around the world to the World Heritage List are being considered. Vestnik Kavkaza spoke with Permanent Representative of Russia to UNESCO Alexander Kuznetsov at the sidelines of this event.
- Alexander Igorevich, what are your expectations from the 43rd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee?
- We have very optimistic expectations regarding Russian world heritage sites. We hope that after this session new Russian object - monuments of ancient Pskov - will be added to the World Heritage List. In addition, several natural sites of Russia are on the agenda, and their prospects are pretty good, as I can see based on plans to adopt relevant resolutions without discussion.
- What contribution does UNESCO make to solution of international problems?
- UNESCO is not a bank, but it's a universal organization of the UN system and it's remarkable because, first of all, it has great moral and sociopolitical authority throughout the world. Second of all, this organization has great expertise, especially in the field of world heritage. Today, at the opening of this session, many states noted high qualifications of the UNESCO Secretariat team, which deals with world heritage. Thanks to organizations such as IKAMOS and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, government officials have someone to rely on when it comes to effective preservation of world heritage sites.
- What do you think about Russian and Azerbaijani partnership in the framework of UNESCO?
- We have excellent relations at UNESCO and complete mutual understanding on overwhelming majority of issues that are discussed there. In addition, bilaterally, we often support each other on a variety of issues.
- What do you think about UNESCO's future?
- I think that in the future this organization will continue to be true to its mandate. Noble idea of protection of the world through international humanitarian cooperation is a key to further development of UNESCO. All previous experiences of this organization showed that by following this path, UNESCO will remain indispensable part of the UN system. World heritage is a typical example. Recently, the UN Security Council adopted detailed resolution on the need to save world heritage sites, which are located in the armed conflict zones or, like in Syria, suffered because of terrorists. We believe that UNESCO should play more active and visible role in this matter.
We believe that it's time for UNESCO to be more involved in the work on restoration of monuments that have suffered in Syria at the hands of terrorists, especially in Aleppo and Palmyra. We expect that UNESCO will be able to take on mobilizing role and that international community will participate in this work more actively.
- In the 1990s, a number of monuments were also destroyed in the Caucasus, in particular, during the Karabakh war. What do you think should be done to protect and restore at least those monuments that still exist?
- This requires cooperation of involved countries with UNESCO. At the same time, it's important to avoid politicizing activities of UNESCO in all areas. We have repeatedly faces situation when the politicization of one or another area of UNESCO’s work brought nothing but harm, and specific results of cooperation and work, including on monuments, suffer because of that.