Cultural ministry delegations from a total of 83 countries on Saturday closed a conference at the ongoing world exposition in Italy's Milan with the signing of a joint declaration for protection of cultural heritage.
"The ministers express their utmost condemnation of the use of violence against the world's cultural heritage and invoke mutual respect and tolerance as the appropriate instrument for dialogue among peoples," the Milan Declaration read.
"They express their solidarity to the nations struck by natural disasters. This is the reason why they call upon the international community to make every effort possible to protect and recover cultural heritage assets," it added.
The Milan Declaration appealed to the United Nations (UN) and UNESCO to continue to support the international community in fostering positive communication between different cultures.
Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, who organized this first international conference of ministry delegations from all over the world, announced Italy's will to set up an international task force to protect the world's cultural heritage in case of terrorist attacks or natural disasters.
In fact the conference tackled both the preservation of cultural heritage in the face of destruction as an act of violence perpetrated in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as in the face of natural disasters like in Nepal, where an earthquake devastated the population and heritage on April 25.
"Culture can be an instrument to overcome controversies ... we must never underestimate our role and capacity for dialogue," Franceschini went on saying at a press conference which closed the two-day event.
Franceschini said the project of an international task force to protect heritage as well as the concept of culture both as a dialogue and an economy instrument will be discussed at the upcoming UNESCO executive board in October.
It was the first time in history, he highlighted, that so many culture ministers met all together to build a common path.
"The legacy of this conference will remain for long time," Franceschini said, also wishing that periodic meetings of this type will be organized in the future.
The auditorium at the Expo site in northwestern Milan was transformed into a scenario from the ancient city of Pompeii in southern Italy, with artifacts from the Greco-Roman period - originals that had been stolen and were recovered by police - arranged on a large table and images of Pompeii projected on the auditorium's walls.