Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cultural Security News (Jun. 16 - Jun. 22)

Increasing influence of “cultural power”
In politics, in Australia, the National Gallery of Australia released a statement on due diligence practiced in the acquisition of objects now in question. In Egypt, the Supreme Council of Antiquities is making calls for European museums to return artifacts. In Cambodia, the Sultanate of Oman took part in the 37th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. In Germany, news reports criticized Vladimir Putin’s resistance to discussing the return of World War II looted artworks with Angela Merkel.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (front R) and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (front L) visit the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, June 21, 2013. REUTERS-Anatoly Maltsev-PoolIn a crossover of politics and security, in Egypt, archaeologists speak out against looting by armed groups at cultural sites, while selling of looted objects occurs openly in cities. In Russia, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations collaborated with local law enforcement to recover cultural documents. In the United Kingdom, one opinion stresses the importance of cultural power as a long-term strategy in international relations as recognized by other nations. Belarus and Azerbaijan ratified agreements on combating theft of cultural property.
In economics, in Switzerland, souring prices at Art Basel demonstrate ultra-high net worth individuals competing for the same works, while increased interest at art auctions in general might indicate a pending economic slump. In the United Kingdom, a Sotheby’s auction pulled in $164 million including the sale of a painting by Monet for $30.5 million.
Roman ruins of Palmyra, 220 kms northeast of the Syrian capital DamascusIn a crossover of economics and security, in Germany, an art historian argues that market for forged paintings has increased with general interest in art, while in Wiesbaden, a forgery ring is under investigation.
In security, in Syria, UNESCO placed several sites of cultural significance on the list of endangered World Heritage sites. In Libya, several citizens were honored for disrupting smuggling and returning artifacts to Sabratha. In Egypt, stringent laws on the antiquities are in review. In the United States, Afghan students completed a Department of Homeland Security law enforcement course as part of training to become a member of Homeland Security Investigations.
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