The 40th UNESCO World Heritage Committee, held this year in Istanbul, ended on Sunday, with the Ani archeological site in Kars, on Turkish-Armenian border, added to the list
The 40th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, held at the Istanbul Congress Center, ended yesterday with a closing ceremony. A total of 1,608 delegates of representatives of 108 countries, advisory bodies, guests hosted by Turkey, media and nongovernmental organizations signed up for the hearings.
On the first day of the session, the committee approved the Istanbul Manifesto as the first item on the agenda. Following its approval, the reports of the World Heritage Center and advisory committee, Sustainable Development, Thematic Programs, Capacity Development and UNESCO 2nd Category Center were presented to member countries and voted on.
On July 12, status reports on 156 cultural assets, including 108 sites that are currently on the World Heritage List and 48 sites featured on the List of World Heritage in Danger, were discussed. The reports on 19 cultural and seven natural sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger were opened for discussion and some of the draft decisions were approved. For two days, starting from July 13, status reports on 22 cultural, one combined and seven natural sites on the World Heritage List were discussed. Six sites were included on the List of World Heritage in Danger and 16 side events were organized as a part of the meeting.
The cultural and natural sites that were nominated to the World Heritage List were discussed on July 15. Among the 15 nominated sites, 13 cultural and natural sites were registered. The ancient Armenian Ani archeological site in Kars province was among the sites that were included on the World Heritage Site List.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı said that the committee agreed on important new decisions and expressed his happiness for Ani's inclusion on the World Heritage Site List. He also thanked UNESCO, members of the committee, World Heritage Center and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). He said that the meeting also created the necessary environment for useful discussions, and continued: "I was able to hold official talks with certain people during the sessions. I also had a chance to meet with distinguished people of culture. As a former president of the Turkish National Commission for UNESCO, I was happy to meet my old friends once again. I thank everybody, including the participants, World Heritage Center employees, UNESCO's advisory boards, Turkey's Foreign Ministry, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and Turkish National Committee for UNESCO."
Minister Avcı also touched upon the recent military coup attempt orchestrated by the members of the Gülenist (FETÖ) Terror Organization and said, "Turkey underwent some unexpected and very important developments while we were involved in such a peaceful meeting. The situation, which saddened us as well as our friends like you, has been put to rest God willingly and people's trust in democracy has been restored once again."