Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office and Special Representative of the Federal Foreign Office for UNESCO World Heritage, UNESCO Cultural Conventions and UNESCO Education and Science Programmes, issued the following statement today (18 July) on the inscription of the archaeological sites Eridu, Ur and Uruk and the marshlands in southern Iraq as a mixed cultural and natural heritage site on the UNESCO World Heritage List at the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee in Istanbul:
"I am delighted with the inscription of the Sumerian settlements in Eridu, Ur and Uruk as well as the marshlands on the World Heritage List and congratulate Iraq on this international recognition.
The decision comes at a time when the fanatics of the so-called Islamic State are systematically plundering and destroying cultural heritage in parts of Iraq and Syria.
The inscription as a mixed natural and cultural property reminds us of the link between favourable natural conditions and human innovativeness, which makes possible the development and preservation of civilisations. As in many places around the world, exploitation and climate change in southern Iraq are, unfortunately, jeopardising a unique landscape which is of supraregional importance as an ecosystem for migratory birds. May the inscription on the World Heritage List act as an incentive for those in positions of authority to protect and cultivate this heritage for humanity.
The fight against the illegal trade in cultural property remains an urgent challenge in which Germany will work even more closely in future with UNESCO via the Archaeological Heritage Network coordinated by the German Archaeological Institute.
The millennia-old cultural landscape of southern Iraq is one of the cradles of world culture. Major technical innovations evolved in this region and key developments in the civilisations of the Middle East and Europe began here. German archaeologists have been involved for over a hundred years in researching and conserving the newly inscribed sites, especially in Uruk."