Syria/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.5 Cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation

There are many cultural programs and projects that support cross-border dialogue, but such programs are only implemented through official cultural cooperation agreements and protocols, especially since the Syrian Arab Republic has not signed the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention (1954) for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, or the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995). In this context we studied agreements such as the cooperation agreement between the Ministry's General Directorate for Antiquities and Museums and Musée du Louvre which was signed in 2008. This agreement encourages hosting and exchanging personnel in scientific fields from both sides to study and restore pieces of art in Syrian museums and qualify Syrian trainees in the field of restoration, and also train Syrian students from the Department of Archaeology in coordination with Damascus University. The agreement also contributes in establishing documents safe at Damascus National Museum, in the archaeological search in Syria in cooperation and coordination with the French or Syrian Faculties, development of archaeological sites especially “Marry” site, holding fairs and reforming the halls of the Eastern Antiques Department at Damascus National Museum and introducing and showing the Collections of the Syrian Eastern Antiques to the French people with the contribution of “LOUVRE” museum in every cultural event. The agreement is valid for five years starting from the date of its signature and renewable by collateral agreement.

The Cooperation agreement between Syria and Italy signed in February, 2007: this agreement includes a large number of development projects for the National Museum in Damascus, Aleppo Museum, and rehabilitation of Idleb Museum and establishment of a database for the museums pieces of art. The other part of the agreement aims to develop the technical lab (Damascus Museum), equip it with the latest lab technologies, provide HR training to use these technologies, establish a show room at Damascus Citadel for Syrian Mosaic for restoration purposes, in addition to other important projects designed for the Castle and establish a database for Syrian heritage. There are also certain programs designed according to the official institutional frameworks concerned, (such as the Cultural Tourism Development Program) funded by the EU as of 2002. The key outcome of this program is laying down a study to develop the ancient city of Palmyra and rehabilitation in harmony with its historical importance.

Cultural dialogue projects with multicultural countries

Such projects are scarce and launched only via official channels and are often through initiatives launched by foreign cultural centers such as the French Cultural Center and British Council.

The “Nahnou-Together” Project (launched in 2005 by the British Council in cooperation with Teet Gallery Museum and Adham Ismael Center for Plastic Arts in Syria/Ministry of Culture) since the year 2005, is one of most notable examples of cultural dialogue and cooperation projects between Syria and a prominent multicultural country (Great Britain). The project was constructed during the years 2006-2007, and gave the youth from both countries a chance to discover and familiarize with their cultural identities through searching in the artistic works, and discussing visual acts from both countries. The project developed into a second stage with Jordan joining during 2008, many artists, teachers and other concerned figures took part in this project, including the working cadres at Adham Ismael Center, Arts House and Royal Museum (Jordan), curators of Teet Gallery Museum and the British Council.

In addition, the State( through the Ministry of Culture) supports the participation of youth and children in various artistic fields (theater, music, visual arts and ballets), provides academic education, training and skill-development almost free of charge, gives the opportunity to stage many activities, events and festivals within its institutions, and fully funds their travel and participations abroad.

Popular organizations such as the Revolutionary Youth Union and Al-Baath Vanguards also support joint international projects pursuant to their rules, and were participating in giving children and youth the opportunity to meet and have dialogue with their counterparts in the world in the fields of art and culture and fund their participations. This was the situation of the organizations of the Baath party when it used to be the leading party of the State and society (according to the eighth article of the former constitution). However, we’re following up the changes that will occur to its status and work mechanism after modifying the constitution in 2012, through which the eighth article was modified to become: (the political regime of the state is set according to political diversity).

Chapter published: 06-05-2016