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Rede von Staatsministerin Michelle Müntefering zum Kultusgutschutz beim G20 Kulturministertreffen in Rom

05.08.2021 - Rede

Your team deserves our praise. Let me commend and thank you for your hospitality. Mario Draghi yesterday came up with an interesting proposal: To declare Italy world heritage as a whole. Germany’s support is safe. Just one question left: Would it include the football team or not?

Dear colleagues!
However, that’s what we call “un estate italiana” – an Italian summer!

In these difficult times, it is so refreshing to experience the inspiration of face-to-face meetings again.

Even though this is the first time for us as the G20 to meet in this format, everything feels familiar being back here around the table right now.

We were longing for this. Like visiting the first exhibition, theatre show or concert after the lockdown. As an old saying says, we appreciate the value of things most when we miss them.

But can we just go back to what we had before?

This not the time to make “feeling good again” our motto. We have to build back better right now. For us in Germany, it was important during the last year to support the creative sector with concrete financial help, but also by assisting our international partners.

In terms of facts and figures, the pandemic has shown how crucial the cultural and creative sector is. Not only for the economy, but also for social and psychological wellbeing in all our societies. Freedom of the arts is indispensable for democracy. It’s part of our human rights.

It is its lifeblood. That’s what we experienced in Germany, and I know many others here would agree.

It is now our duty to highlight this beyond the national level – and to guarantee freedom of the arts, ensure safe working conditions for artists, and support their livelihoods.

Against this backdrop, it will be an important step to establish regular meetings of the Ministers of Culture in the context of the G20.

Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a special privilege to talk about the protection of cultural heritage in the Eternal City of Rome, surrounded by its treasures.

They make wisdom tangible that has been developed for centuries and help us to develop an appreciation for diversity and respect.

And they help us to understand some of the fundamental questions that we have. This is what cultural heritage is all about.

In Germany and in neighbouring countries, we have recently witnessed how vulnerable our achievements are in the face of the elemental forces of nature and man made climate change.

After the devastating flooding, we deplore, first and foremost, the loss of lives and the suffering of the people. We’re grateful for the offers of support that we have received from the emergency services of so many countries.

Many lost their families, and also their mementos, their homes and households. The destruction of old villages and historical buildings is, of course, also an enormous loss of our cultural heritage.

A few days later, we looked to China and India, where many people were also lost their lives – and in China the magnificent UNESCO world heritage site of the Longmen Grottoes was threatened by serious flooding.

Protecting cultural heritage against the impacts of climate change has become an increasing challenge.

In this regard, I would like to mention two programmes that Germany has built together with the German Archaeological Institute, our long-standing partner organisation. First, the new programme Ground Check that complements international strategies and sustainable development.

Second, a programme that provides emergency services for cultural goods. At the end of the day, an essential requirement is rapid response. We haven’t forgotten the devastating pictures of the fire in Notre Dame Cathedral, the burning National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, the explosion in Beirut or the fire at the University of Cape Town.

We have therefore started to develop a “rapid response mechanism” that facilitates swift responses to save buildings or objects by mobilising experts and technology within hours – including a modular set of equipment that can be transported anywhere as an emergency conservation laboratory, always accompanied by experts. Linking up this “rapid response mechanism” with other international partners is high up on the agenda.

Dear Dario, as you know, Germany renewed its national cultural property protection in 2016. We supported EU rules concerning cultural goods in the crisis regions of Iraq and Syria, general rules for the import of cultural property.

And we have decided to raise awareness for the problem of purchasing and transferring cultural heritage goods – because part of the problem is ignorance.

But let me assure you that we also stand ready to continue our cooperation within the framework of the Italian-led Copernicus Task Force. New technologies and the digital transformation are major and increasingly important assets in the protection of cultural heritage.

Esteemed colleagues!

Protection of cultural heritage is not a question of ethnicity, religion or nationality. After all, cultural heritage is a legacy of and for mankind.

The reality can be very different, however. There are many threats to cultural heritage: climate change, as I mentioned, but also armed conflicts, illicit trafficking and the contemptuous ideology of those like DAESH, who seek to destroy identity as our common cultural memory.

This can only be tackled effectively if we engage in dialogue, cooperation and coordination. A multilateral approach is key, with UNESCO and other UN organisations at its core. And this is what we will reach agreement on in our joint statement today. Thank you very much for this.

Because this meeting – be it digital or in person – means having a very real chance to put in place the structures and cooperation that we all need both now and tomorrow.

G20 Erklärung der Kulturministerinnen und Kulturminister


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