Tuesday 6 December 2022 - 21:02

Iraq-Hosted Old Civilizations Forum Seeks Protection to Heritage, Antiquities

Story Code : 1028915
Iraq-Hosted Old Civilizations Forum Seeks Protection to Heritage, Antiquities
Meanwhile, beside working with international organizations for protection of local and native cultures as the humanity’s common heritage, the governments independently work together and even use culture as a gate to boost diplomatic interactions with other countries. 

As part of this aim, the countries with ‘ancient civilization’ gathered in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Sunday to discuss ways for bolstering partnership and expanding popular communications and facilitate closer ties among regional nations. 

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein emphasized on Sunday at the opening of the Ancient Civilizations Forum, which was held with the presence of the ministers of culture and heritage of the member countries, that crises and conflict of interests have caused major crises in the world and cultural dialogue can help strengthen understanding. He said that terrorism played a key role in the destruction of many civilizational sites and works, but it could not change history. He added that Iraq adopted a “partnership-oriented perspective” in international relations and calls for the cooperation of all parties in various issues, including environmental changes. 

Hussein also said that Iraq witnessed the systemic theft of its antiquities in various periods, but began extensive diplomatic efforts to retake them, and as a result, it has recovered 18,000 smuggled antiquities so far. 

Baghdad meeting’s goals 

In Baghdad forum which is the sixth of its kind, representatives from Iraq, Greece, China, Iran, Mexico, Egypt, Italy, Bolivia, Peru, and Armenia attended. According to Ahmed al-Sahaf, the spokesman of the Iraqi foreign ministry, the purpose of the Baghdad forum is to strengthen the communication and exchange of experience between different nations and cultures, and to preserve the world heritage, and encourage the attention to historical and cultural tourism, given its importance in sustainable economic development. 

In a meeting with the representatives of the countries present in Baghdad forum, the Prime Minister of Iraq Mohammad Shia al-Sudani said that the principles and goals for which this meeting was held can be used as a message against extremism and racism to break with the discourse of hatred and violence and encourage unity among nations. 

Al-Sudani added that this forum is a chance for these countries to boost political, economic, and cultural partnership and take stances to protect cultural and civilizational heritage and help take back their stolen antiquities, and exchange experience to save them. The PM also called for help to Iraq to document its cultural heritage through reconstruction of ancient sites and antiquities and empowering the Iraqi staff responsible for this job. 

The Ancient Civilizations Forum was established in Greece for the first time in 2017 with the participation of the foreign ministers of ten countries in order to use the human’s ancient heritage to fight extremism and terrorism. 

Based on the statements issued in the previous summits, this forum tries to use the role of the ancient and rich culture of these countries in the expansion of peace among nations. 

The member countries contain 40 percent of the world’s population and so are significant from this aspect. The top ten civilizations in the world, which have immortalized their names in history thanks to this ancient and cultural heritage, are trying to defend their precious ancient resources with all their might. The more ancient civilizations cooperate with each other, the more cultural interactions between them will be strengthened, and these relations can spread to other fields as well. 

Iran’s proposals 

Iran’s Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Ezzatullah Zarghami who represented Iran in the forum talked about a “comprehensive plan” that requires cooperation, convergence, and diplomatic and cultural efforts of the member states. Zarghami proposed to fight plundering cultural properties of nations and returning the stolen ones. 

Supporting Baghdad statement, Zarghami described one of the important missions of this forum as fighting monopolization, supremacism, modern racism, and unilateral actions of some countries. The Iranian minister added that the duty of the member states is to counter the countries that excessively instrumentalize economic terrorism to endanger other nations and urged the members to stand united against such measures. 

Zarghami also expressed Iran’s readiness to chair the forum in 2023 and hold the meeting of ministers of this forum in Tehran. The Iraqi foreign minister thanked the Iranian minister for backing Baghdad statement and described as “ highly important” the initiatives presented by Iran. He hoped that effective actions would be taken by the members states toward realization of goals of the forum. 

Iraq is one of the ancient civilizations of the world under Babylon empire and according to historical documents, the first civilizations were formed in the Mesopotamia, which is the current Iraq, and therefore, there have been many civilizational works in this country. But over time, especially in recent years, it lost part of its antiquities. ISIS terrorists who were running rampant in this country for some time and because they had a wrong understanding of ancient works, destroyed many of Iraq’s antiquities. 

A couple of years ago, ISIS videos showed Takfiri militants destroying with hammer the several-thousand-year-old antiquities in Mosul museum. Also some civilizational symbols were destroyed with explosives by the terrorist militias. These antiquities were historical treasures Iraq spent huge resources on to protect over centuries and were important in providing information on its ancient civilization.

The developments in Iraq, parts of which were occupied by ISIS terrorists from 2014 to 2017, played an important role in the gathering of ancient civilizations. Because these grave developments may happen to other ancient civilizations, and for this reason, there is a need for more cooperation among these countries so that they can deal with such risks. 

The remarks by Iraqi officials who maintain that thousands of Iraqi antiquities are now held in the US and Baghdad is trying to take them back suggest that the Americans have been as destructive as ISIS to the Iraqi history and civilization and during their occupation of Iraq, they were more busy plundering the country’s antiquities than protecting its security. 

Many of countries who are old civilizations were under Western colonization or mandate and during the long years of colonization, the West looted much of their antiquities and transferred them to London, Paris, and New York— the capitals of countries with no deep civilizational backgrounds and only several-century-old but hosting treasures of old civilizations in their museums and annually making billions of dollars from foreign tourists visiting these foreign antiquities. 

Iran is one of the victims of Western colonialism, with its antiquities over centuries plundered by British and French colonizers. To show how important the antiquities are, we can look at the Western countries that are because of lack of ancient history display other nations’ symbols and antiquities in their museums to claim protection of the human heritage. 

Thousands of years from the ancient civilizations, still parts of them remain undiscovered and each year, archeologists discover parts of them with an age as old as human’s history.