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Between 15 and 17 September, the Centre for European Perspective conducted an online pilot training on the Protection of Cultural Heritage in EU missions and operations.

The training was designed for a wide range of participants who will be deployed to EU international missions and operations in third countries in the near future. Following the conclusion of the pilot training, all content and participating lecturers will be assessed and evaluated. Based on the conclusions of the evaluation, the content and structure of the training will be standardized and permanently available to participants from EU Member States.

The protection of cultural heritage is increasingly on the agenda of international organizations as well as relevant European Union bodies. In June, the EU Council adopted its conclusions, which also declared the protection and safeguarding of cultural heritage among the European External Action Service’s foreign policy priorities. Based on coordination with European partners and a preliminary needs analysis prepared by the Center for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Italian Carabinieri, the Center for European Perspective designed a new training course and recently conducted a pilot training. Throughout the training, participants were familiarised with various forms of cultural heritage and differing factors threatening cultural heritage. The participants were acquainted with the international legal framework that provides the legal basis for the protection of cultural heritage sites in crisis areas, learned about basic approaches and tools for fieldwork and concrete experiences of civilian and military representatives in EU missions and operations who were responsible for the protection and safeguarding of cultural heritage during previous deployments.

The three-day training was conducted in English. It was attended by representatives of ten European countries; Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Cyprus, Belgium, Romania, the Netherlands and Slovenia. The participants held varying degrees of previous experience with the topic of the training. Some were introduced to the topic for the first time, while others already had previous experiences with the protection of cultural heritage and attended the training to deepen their knowledge. Participants were active, and the online training format did not represent a significant barrier for participants.

Based on the evaluations of the participating lecturers, participants, and our own evaluation, we are convinced that the pilot training was a great success. The participants praised the experience of the lecturers and the contents of the training being based on concrete information from the field. Based on the feedback future trainings will be carried out in a similar manner to the pilot training.