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Mariya Gabriel: “Culture and cultural heritage are our strongest bonds to the past”

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Statement by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel on support to artists, cultural professionals and culture organizations impacted by the Russian war against Ukraine and for the protection of cultural heritage

Today, 21 April, is the United Nations World Day of Creativity and Innovation. A few days ago, on 18 April, we celebrated the International Day for Monuments and Sites.

On this occasion, I would like to express my full solidarity with the Ukrainian artists, creatives, culture professionals, and of course, cultural heritage and all cultural and creative sectors. They are the beating heart of Ukraine, and their work epitomises the Ukrainian history, identity, language, and hopes for the future. They are also part of our common European identity, made of a mosaic of cultures, in full respect of cultural diversity.

On 24 February 2022, the Russian Federation started the war of aggression against Ukraine. We, the European Union, stand by Ukraine and its people. Since then, the European Commission has been mobilising its financial instruments to support the artists and culture professionals fleeing the war, the culture organisations of the countries receiving Ukrainian refugees, as well as the protection of cultural heritage.

First, we support Ukrainian artists, culture professionals and culture organisations.

To start with, the Commission has extended the 2022 Creative Europe culture cooperation projects call from 31 March to 5 May 2022, to allow more Ukrainian partners to participate. In addition, the Commission will allow maximum flexibility for ongoing EU-funded projects with Ukrainian organisations. 

Next, we will allocate a specific budget of the new mobility instrument in the Creative Europe programme to the benefit of Ukrainian artists. In the same perspective, the Commission will propose to the Member States to launch a special action dedicated to Ukraine under the Creative Europe programme, targeting both Ukrainian artists and organisations.

The “Creatives Unite” platform, co-funded by the EU, has also proved useful by collecting and publishing initiatives taken in favour of Ukrainian artists and creatives by European networks and other beneficiaries supported through the Creative Europe programme. Member States can also use the platform to inform them about their initiatives.

Second, we are mobilised to protect the Ukrainian cultural heritage.

The Commission will continue to support the Member States in delivering emergency equipment and material for the protection of Ukrainian cultural heritage under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM).

The Creative Europe programme will also include a dedicated action on sharing expertise and capacity building of Ukrainian professionals for reconstruction of cultural heritage.

The European Competence Centre for Cultural Heritage (4CH) has launched “Save the Ukraine Monuments”, an initiative to save the digital documentation of Ukrainian cultural heritage, to preserve its memory and support the future restoration of assets from the damages caused by the war.

Finally, the #ARTvsWAR campaign launched by the EU on 18 April is drawing the attention to the destruction of cultural heritage, the initiatives to preserve it, and the vibrancy and resilience of the Ukrainian artists, culture professionals and citizens in general.

I am convinced that Culture and cultural heritage are our strongest bonds to the past, to our present, and to our future. As such, preserving our rich cultural diversity and cultural heritage is our common responsibility towards future generations. It is only by joining forces and acting all together that we will be able to meet this challenge.

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