Nordic and Baltic Ministers: Protect culture and cultural heritage in the event of a crisis

Culture plays a vital role in democratic and resilient societies. Right now, with ongoing geopolitical tensions, crises, and war in nearby countries, there are many examples of culture and cultural heritage being targeted in various ways.

In light of this, it was of high importance for the Nordic and Baltic ministers for Culture to join forces on this subject. 

“It’s vital that we protect cultural heritage and maintain cultural activities in the event of a crisis, state of high alert, or war. The situation is more pressing than it has been for many years, which is why I invited my ministerial colleagues from the other Nordic and Baltic countries in order to share our valuable experiences and knowledge on how we can pursue and develop our efforts in this area. We have been discussing how we can work together to step up our preparedness in the cultural sector at a time when our societies are under immense external pressure,” says Parisa Liljestrand, Sweden’s Minister of Culture, and the chair of the Nordic ministers for culture.

It’s vital that we protect cultural heritage and maintain cultural activities in the event of a crisis, state of high alert, or war.

Parisa Liljestrand, Sweden’s Minister of Culture

Nordic-Baltic co-operation on culture in focus

At the meeting, the ministers shared their knowledge and experiences, and discussed  possibilities for further co-operation concerning preparedness in the cultural sector in the event of a crisis, heightened state of alert, or war. 

“Today’s historic meeting of Nordic and Baltic Culture Ministers focused on the protection of culture and heritage in times of crisis. The situation in the world is forcing us to reflect on how we can better protect culture and heritage. By exchanging practices and discussing together, we can be even better at protecting culture,” says Estonian Minister of Culture Heidy Purga.

 

The need for preparedness is also stressed by Agnese Logina, Latvias Minister of Culture:

“Preservation of cultural heritage must become an integral part of national security. Our cultural heritage is fundamental to our national identities. Prevention and being prepared is the best way how to increase our chances of making sure that our heritage is preserved through various threats.”

Joint declaration

To further emphasise the importance of contingency planning and Nordic-Baltic co-operation on culture, a joint declaration was signed, highlighting the following:

  • emphasise the great importance of cultural cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic countries;
    recognise the importance of a free and vibrant cultural life for maintaining resilient and democratic societies;
  • declare strengthening preparedness in our countries as a high priority in order to protect cultural heritage and
  • maintain cultural activities in the event of crisis, heightened state of alert or war;
  • emphasise specifically the importance of exchange of knowledge and experiences of national expertise to strengthen the Nordic and Baltic preparedness of the cultural sector; and
  • resolutely condemn Russia’s continuing military aggression against Ukraine, in flagrant violation of international law, and its deliberate attacks against Ukrainian civilians and civilian objects, including the destruction and damage of Ukrainian cultural, historical, and religious sites and cultural heritage.

The Nordic-Baltic meeting of the ministers for culture in Stockholm on 3 May was arranged as part of the Swedish presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers.