‘Tatarstan Preserves Traditions of World Cultures’ International Forum in Kazan

28 December 2022


On December 5, Kazan hosted the opening ceremony of the International Forum dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The event was divided into conferences and there were nine of them held in Kazan.

The reconstruction of Syrian monuments, in particular Palmyra, was the main point of the forum’s agenda.

The experts also discussed the management of World Heritage sites and the anthropogenic impact on monuments due to organized and unorganized tourism. The meeting also dealt with the topic of industrial heritage, in particular constructivist architecture.

The opening ceremony was attended by Rustam Minnikhanov, President of the Republic of Tatarstan and Chairman of the Group of Strategic Vision ‘Russia – Islamic World’, Olga Lyubimova, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Mintimer Shaimiev, State Advisor of the Republic of Tatarstan and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Grigory Ordzhonikidze, Executive Secretary of the Russian Federation Commission for UNESCO, delegations from several foreign countries and others.

Welcoming the participants of the forum, Rustam Minnikhanov noted that Tatarstan had been successfully cooperating with UNESCO for many years. The republic makes a significant contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage. To date, three sites located in the territory of Tatarstan are included in the World Heritage List. Joint activities are carried out in a number of other UNESCO areas.

Rustam Minnikhanov also said that representatives of 173 nationalities live in Tatarstan in peace and harmony. Tatarstan cherishes the traditions of world cultures, where principles of good neighborliness and interethnic and inter-confessional accord strengthen and develop year by year. He thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Government of the country, the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO Affairs, headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Olga Lyubimova, Executive Secretary of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO Affairs Grigory Ordzhonikidze for choosing Tatarstan as the venue for the forum and support in its organization.

He reminded that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage. During this period, 1154 sites have been recognized and inscribed worldwide.

‘Thus, in 2000 the Kazan Kremlin Historical and Architectural Ensemble was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, in 2014 - the Bulgarian Historical and Archaeological Complex, in 2017 - the Assumption Cathedral and Monastery of Sviyazhsk, which, in fact, are also sites of spiritual and religious significance, opening up new opportunities for strengthening the policy of peace and harmony,’ Rustam Minnikhanov said.

This year, in honor of the 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam by the Volga Bulgars, many landmark projects are being implemented in the republic.

The anniversary events were attended by numerous guests not only from Russia, but also from abroad.  This demonstrates that Tatarstan has become an international platform for interaction between world experts and Russian scientists, politicians and cultural figures, religious organizations, and meetings of business circles, both from the East and from the West, ‘which is very important for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation with the Russian Federation’.

‘We have returned to Kazan, to the entire Orthodox world, the historic Temple that was destroyed during the Soviet era - we have recreated the Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. In 2020, a new site, the Astronomical Observatories of Kazan Federal University, was included in the UNESCO Tentative List from the Russian Federation. This is a unique event not only for Tatarstan, but for the country as a whole. Previously, there were no such independent nominations related to the topic of science in Russia. Next year in the Republic of Tatarstan, the Year of National Cultures and Traditions has been announced. I am sure that traditional values and the dialogue of cultures will contribute to the development of a community based on mutual respect and cultural enrichment,’ Rustam Minnikhanov said about the work on preserving cultural heritage in Tatarstan.

The guest of honor also noted Tatarstan’s plans to work with UNESCO, including the Associated Schools Programs, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, and cooperation in the field of informatization, bioethics and artificial intelligence.

‘Today, rallying around our national leader Vladimir Putin, we are able to defend our country, preserve our history, unique diversity and cultural identity,’ the politician addressed the forum participants.

Olga Lyubimova in her speech expressed her belief that the results reviewed since the ratification of the Convention would provide an opportunity for professionals and authorities to outline plans for the future.

She added that the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tatarstan are unique not only in terms of their historical value; they are a unique evidence of interaction between the Orthodox and Muslim traditions and demonstrate the mutual influence and mutual enrichment of cultures.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin read out a greeting on behalf of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The Foreign Minister said that ‘the anniversary of the Convention is not just a landmark date, but also an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of its provisions. In half a century, this unique international legal instrument has gained the widest recognition. In fact, it became the flagship program of UNESCO, thanks to which thousands of cultural and natural monuments of universal importance have been saved. 31 of them are located in Russia’.

Sergey Lavrov also noted the substantive agenda, which covers a wide range of pressing issues, such as the Silk Road projects and the restoration of Palmyra in Syria.

In his turn, Mintimer Shaimiev shared with the forum participants the experience of the republic in the field of protection of historical and cultural monuments and interaction with UNESCO. In particular, he highlighted the tremendous work of the Republican Fund ‘Revival’, ‘whose activities have received nationwide support’.

A professional team of historians, archaeologists, restorers and builders in Tatarstan have restored about 60 historical and cultural monuments.

The State Advisor of the Republic of Tatarstan also highlighted the celebration of the 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam by the Volga Bulgars at the federal level.  In Shaimiev’s opinion, the simultaneous restoration of Muslim and Orthodox churches is the right course, which fully meets the doctrines of the preservation of cultural diversity and the moral values of UNESCO.

At the opening ceremony of the International Forum it was also decided to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of culture and art between Russia and Syria. The event was attended by Syrian Minister of Culture Lubbana Mushavvah, Russian Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova and Rustam Minnikhanov, Chairman of the Group of Strategic Vision ‘Russia – Islamic World’.

According to the signed document, the two countries’ ministries will help establish direct cooperation between museums, libraries, art collectives, institutions for the protection and restoration of historical and cultural monuments, develop bilateral relations in the field of cinematography, maintain contacts on the exchange of information concerning the registration, preservation, restoration, use and popularization of historical and cultural heritage, etc.



GSV "Russia - Islamic world"

Photo: official website of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan