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23 November 1998
For immediate release
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THE UKRAINE-UNITED STATES JOINT CULTURAL HERITAGE COMMISSION
The Ukraine - United States Joint Cultural Heritage Commission, established in furtherance of the bilateral Agreement on the Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage, held its second plenary meeting on November 17-18, 1998 in Washington, DC. Activities of the Joint Commission take place in the context of work of the Ukrainian-American Binational Commission co-chaired by Vice-President Al Gore and President Leonid Kuchma.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Chairman of the United States Commission for the Preservation of Americaís Heritage Abroad Mr. Michael Lewan and the Deputy Minister for Culture and Arts of Ukraine Mr. Leonid Novokhatko. Also, from the American side in the work of the Committee participated the Commissioners Irving Stolberg and Rabbi Chaskel Besser, and Bruce Lowry and Erick Schultz from the US Department of State; from the Ukrainian side the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Mr. Yuriy Shcherbak, Mr. Victor Bondarenko, Chairman of the State Committee on Religions, Mr. Olexander Fedoruk, Chairman of the Commission on Restitution of Cultural Treasures under the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, and Ms. Tetiana Izhevska, Director for Cultural and Humanitarian Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs took part in the work of the Commission, as well.
The Commission reviewed the progress achieved since its previous meeting (May 1997) in the implementation of the inter-governmental agreement on the protection and preservation of cultural heritage of all national, religious and ethnic groups that is of common interest to the USA and Ukraine. It outlined concrete plans for cooperation and some joint projects.
In the course of the meeting, the sides noted significant headway made in the field of preservation of cultural heritage of the national minorities in Ukraine, and in the protection of their rights, notably of the Jewish community.
In this connection, the two sides agreed that the July 20, 1998 Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Executive Order To Approve Additional Measures to Preserve Burial Sites on the Territory of Ukraine became a considerable achievement. The meeting between the Co-chairman of the Commission from the American side Mr. Michael Lewan and the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Mr. V.Smoliy, which took place in June, 1998 in New York, facilitated the achievement of this result. The United States welcomed the issuance of this order which is an important step toward protection of the cemeteries of all ethnic and religious groups in Ukraine. The two sides agreed to continue their work to assure further implementation of the Executive Oder.
The Commission positively assessed the progress in preserving several prominent historical and cultural sites in Ukraine, in particular burial sites in Uman and Lviv, as well as returning of the former Brodskiy synagogue to the Jewish community in Kyiv. The Commission considered the need to resolve outstanding problems related to the return of other property that had belonged to religious communities. The Ukrainian side requested for the facilitation of more active participation of the World Council of Bratslav Chassidim in the organization of the pilgrimage to Uman.
The Joint Commission underscored the great significance of the US Commissionís survey of cemeteries in Ukraine, as well as the importance of the preparation of the catalogue "Jewish Cultural Sites in Ukraine". The two sides agreed to cooperate in the publication and dissemination of the catalogue and the report on the results of the above survey.
Because the fabric of a society is strengthened by visible reminders of the historical heritage of the society, both sides stated that they would cooperate with the Ukrainian-American community, in particular in the field of protection and preservation of archive materials related to its roots and in promoting the commencement of work on listing the Ukrainian cultural sites in the USA. The Joint Commission will positively consider the project presented by the Ukrainian Museum-Archives in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Ukrainian side raised the issue of strengthening cooperation in the field of restitution, in particular in the return of the works by A.Durer from the USA to Lviv.
Both sides expressed their satisfaction with the high level of bilateral cooperation in the spirit of strategic partnership. In the course of the meeting, the sides agreed to establish a mechanism of a working group for cooperation between meetings; and set the date for the next meeting, to be held in Kyiv, for October 11, 1999.
Michael Lewan Leonid Novochatko