Strongly advocating friendly relations and continuous dialogue between countries and the need for international cooperation and understanding as a means to address cultural, social, economic and political challenges, the foreign ministers of Greece, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Peru and Bolivia on Monday signed the Athens Declaration on the establishment of the Ancient Civilizations Forum (ACForum).
The ACForum is an initiative of the Greek Foreign Ministry to bring together representatives of countries, which – although in various geographical regions – are considered “cradles of ancient cultures”.
The signing of the declaration took place at the Zappeion Megaron in Athens, during the first ministerial meeting of the member states that comprise the ACForum.
Through the declaration, the foreign ministers agreed to establish the ACForum with the participation of the countries of Bolivia, China, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Italy and Peru, as a platform for dialogue and cultural cooperation among the participating States. The Forum shall be open to future enlargement on a consensual basis.
Moreover, they agreed:
– to encourage communication among participating States regarding cultural exchanges and cooperation in all related fields.
– to conduct dialogue and consultations with a view to reaching coordinated positions where appropriate, on issues of major importance relating to the protection of cultural heritage, within the relevant international organizations, such as UNESCO.
– to examine the most appropriate ways to enhance the ACForum’s efforts to optimize the use of culture as an effective tool for contemporary diplomacy.
– to work together, as appropriate, and in coordination with UNESCO, in order to safeguard the historical and cultural heritage of the ACF members.
The Athens declaration was signed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Yi; the Arab Republic of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry; the Hellenic Republic, Nikos Kotzias; the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr Mohammad Javad Zarif; the Republic of Iraq, Ibrahim AL-Eshaiker AL-Jaafari; the Italian Republic, Angelino Alfano; the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Peru, Salvador Alejandro Jorge del Solar; and the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Dr Guadalupe Palomeque de la Cruz.
The participating States agreed that a ministerial meeting of the ACForum will be organized on an annual basis. The chairmanship of the annual ministerial meeting will rotate among participating States.
The next ministerial meeting will be held in 2018 in Bolivia. Peru expressed its readiness to host the annual Meeting in 2020 and Iraq in 2021.