On the 16th September experts, academics, government officials and journalists gathered in Serdika Hall of Sofia Hotel Balkan for the conference “Fighting the looting of Syria's cultural heritage”.

The conference was organised by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sofia and the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research in partnership with the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, the Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus and the Netherlands NGO Walk of Truth. The event was part of the Norwegian initiative to combat the practice of looting in order to stop the antiquities trade, which currently is a big part of the mechanism for financing the Syrian conflict. The event's main objective was to raise awareness of this issue which is not as well-known as other crimes occurring in Syria but also one of the main sources for income for the various fighting parties in Syria. The conference was held under the patronage of the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova. After the opening speech of H.E. Guro Katharina H. Vikor, Ambassador of Norway in Bulgaria, brief speeches were given by the representatives of a number of partner organisations-Mrs. Rumiana Bachvarova, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Vezhdi Rashidov, Bulgarian Minister of Culture as well as H.E. Stavros Avgoustides, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus and Mr. Carsten Paludan-Müller, Director-General of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research. Each speaker outlined the measures taken and still in need to be taken by the international community to combat this phenomenon. After the opening several lectures were given by experts in the field going into specific details of the problem of cultural heritage looting.

After the end of the conference there was an organised visit to the newly opened museum of the History of Sofia lead by the deputy-mayor of Sofia Dr. Todor Chobanov.


Information and photos are provided by the organizers of the event.