President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych chaired a meeting of the Public Humanitarian Council. Opening the meeting, President Yanukovych called for the need to consider two questions: protection of citizens with special needs and preservation and protection of cultural heritage in Ukraine.

"Ukraine has joined the circle of states that ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and has assumed important obligations in both international and domestic context. Let me remind you that it concerns more than 2.6 million of our fellow citizens," Yanukovych said.

"However, I have to admit that after ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, neither executive, nor legislative branch have taken substantial steps to meet the requirenments of this important document. This situation is intolerable," the president complained.

According to him, the Government and NGOs protecting the rights of persons with disabilities should intensify efforts to develop a National Action Plan to implement the UN Convention, so that in the second half of next year it could get an approval by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

Yanukovych also specified that this process should be transparent and accountable to the general public.

Speaking about culture, the president noted that dispersion of authority and financial resources, as well as lack of coordination and coherence in actions is affecting the work on preservation of cultural heritage, historical and cultural preserves and museum collections. According to Yanukovych, this question requires clear regulation in the context of administrative reform.

"I will be demanding strict penalties for fraud or manipulation in the area of cultural heritage preservation. We are currently carrying out this work together with law enforcement authorities. And I would like to publicly warn all those, who have such plans for the future. First, it will not happen, second, we will stop any attempts to do so in Ukraine," he said.

Ukraine has more than 140 thousand sites, over 4000 of which are of national importance. The president informed that according to the international practice, no country provides budgetary funding for maintaining all the sites it has. In many countries only a half or even a third of the necessary expenditures is covered by the state.

"The main task of the state should be creating favorable conditions to attract investors in this sector. To achieve this goal it is necessary to conduct inventory and certification of all the sites of cultural heritage. It is necessary to explore the possibility of concession of certain sites and define the concession terms.

It is well known that cultural heritage stimulates economic vitality of the community. We must find a balance between the need to protect the cultural heritage and economic benefits from its use.

Particular attention should be paid to Ukrainian sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. They are our national pride. We must realize our responsibility before the international community for their safety," Yanukovych concluded.


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