A conference on counteraction to illegal trafficking in cultural goods on 9 May 2018 in Sofia gathered EU law enforcement officers, representatives of cultural institutions, academia and international organisations. This was one of three thematic conferences on priorities of the current EU agenda that were organised by the Ministry of Interior in the framework of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The event was held in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and was dedicated to 2018 - the first European Year of Cultural Heritage.
The discussions focused on developing a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach in response to the current challenges in this area. Delegates agreed that strengthening the cross-border cooperation on a global level, as well as the exchange of experience and best practices, have proven to be of key importance in achieving adequate response, capabilities and capacities.
“We truly believe that countering different forms of organised crime and terrorism cannot be done effectively without paying adequate attention and taking appropriate actions regarding illicit trafficking and trade in cultural goods,”
said the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Interior, Krasimir Tsipov. In his words, the rapidly changing security environment and numerous interlinked threats represent a strong argument for enhancing the efforts of all interested stakeholders.
Reiterating that preserving the heritage is crucial for the present and future of the European project, the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Culture, Amelia Gesheva, emphasised:
“Our common goal must be to develop an environment of zero tolerance to all crimes related to the violation of legislation, destroying of cultural heritage and trafficking in cultural goods, regardless of their origin. Only the engagement of the whole society can guarantee the success of our efforts”.
During the conference, participants reviewed the national preconditions for international cooperation as well as the interdisciplinary collaboration between the investigative authorities on specific cases of illicit trafficking and transfer of cultural goods. Particular focus was placed on fighting online trading with stolen cultural goods and protecting cultural goods through digitalisation.