Bulgaria Is Transit Country for Trafficking in Cultural Goods from Syria - Minister

Crime | September 16, 2015, Wednesday // 15:58
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Is Transit Country for Trafficking in Cultural Goods from Syria - Minister Photo by the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA)

Bulgaria is a transit country for the illicit trafficking of stolen cultural goods from the Middle East due to its key geographic location, according to Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova.

Speaking Wednesday at a conference on the fight against looting of Syria’s cultural heritage, Bachvarova reminded that Bulgaria’s national legislation had been adjusted to the new circumstances, featuring an emphasis on the ban on cross-border trade from Syria and Iraq.

Bachvarova, as cited by the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA), stated that the efforts of the competent units of the Interior Ministry and most of all the Chief Directorate "Combating Organized Crime" (GDBOP) were focused on preventing the illegal smuggling and sale of Bulgarian cultural objects.

She declared that Bulgaria was a country with a rich history, with recent surveys placing it third, after Italy and Greece, by trafficking of cultural goods and objects.

Bulgaria’s Interior Minister said that the trafficking in cultural objects and the destruction of historical sites located in zones such as Iraq and Syria was a phenomenon that was gaining momentum and was described as an exceptionally serious war crime.

She insisted that concerted and decisiove actions were necessary to stop the ongoing deliberate destruction of history.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova noted that footage of illegal archaeological excavations in Syria showed that the country was plagued by industrial scale looting.

The participants in Wednesday’s conference agreed that Syria’s cultural heritage was seriously endangered and that the international community had to unite to stop the illegal trafficking of cultural goods from the war-torn country.

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Tags: Rumyana Bachvarova, Interior Minister, cultural heritage, UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova, GDBOP, anti-mafia
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