Italy wants to maintain 'cultural presence' in Middle East
Italy's government is eager to keep a "cultural presence" alive in Syria and other war-wracked parts of the Middle East, Deputy Foreign Minister Marina Sereni told archaeologists at a meeting here Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said.
"Keeping the flame of our cultural presence in Syria and in other Middle Eastern countries undergoing a serious political and humanitarian crisis at the moment goes beyond the already significant tasks and merits of the Mission," Sereni told members of the Italian Archaeological Mission in the Near East from Rome's La Sapienza University.
"For this reason, besides extending our country's thanks to our archaeologists, maximum support must also be guaranteed," she underlined.
At the meeting, Mission members updated Sereni on their current activities in the Middle East, especially at sites and museums that have suffered or are at currently at risk of damage and disruption due to ongoing hostilities in the region, according to the statement.
Sereni praised the archaeologists for their work and assured them of the Italian government's commitment to safeguarding the region's cultural heritage and to supporting the Mission, the statement said.
The Mission is headed by Professor Paolo Matthiae who, since 1964, has led the excavations that unearthed the remains of the ancient city of Ebla in Syria.