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Press Release
Coalition Provisional Authority

L. Paul Bremer, III
Coalition Provisional Authority
Ministry of Culture Transition
4 May 2004

Mr. Minister, Madam Deputy, Ministry employees, dear friends,

The return of Iraq’s Ministry of Culture to Iraqi hands marks another milestone on Iraq’s road to sovereignty, to elections and to a democratic, constitutional government.

This ministry, with its stewardship of Iraq’s historical artifacts and thousands of archaeological sites, is the custodian of Iraq’s many thousands of years of culture.

This is a heavy responsibility.

Because it is not possible to speak of culture in Iraq without recalling that this is where civilized life began. It is here, in the ancient lands of Iraq that wandering bands first settled, cultivated crops and began to contemplate the great questions of human existence.

What the early dwellers of this Land between the Two Rivers brought to the world was nothing less than civilization itself. There is literally place on earth that does not owe a debt to what began here in the Land between the Two Rivers.

Minister, you and your staff have done a remarkable job of serving your people during this very difficult time.

In the last year, you have begun printing textbooks for the nation’s children on your new, state-of-the art presses. You have begun cleaning the nation’s library collection so that future generations of scholars can make use of this wonderful resource. You’ve revitalized the National Symphony Orchestra, which brought worldwide credit to Iraq with its concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Your stewardship of Iraq’s only specialized elementary school, the School of Music and Ballet assures that culture in Iraq is not just the study and conservation of history, but a living and breathing part of this dynamic culture. And we have all enjoyed the real benefits of that school, as we have just heard them today.

Minister, you have set a standard for international cooperation that other ministries will be hard-pressed to match. Working with current Senior Advisor Professor John Russell and former Senior Advisor Ambassador Osio, you have secured $4.5 million in funding and technical cooperation from the Governments of Italy and the United States and another $1 million in private funding from the Packard Humanities Institute.

You have done your administrative chores as well, completing short and long-range plans to assure the effectiveness of your ministry now and in years to come. Additionally, you have put the financial, personnel and inventory systems in place to assure that you can carry out those plans. And you have taken advantage of $10 million from the Iraqi government budget to take care of those goals.

Mr. Minister, even though you are now in charge of your ministry, you know that your friends and colleagues from the Coalition are available to assist you now and in the future—especially in one area. Although the most important artifacts looted from the National Museum have been recovered, all the nations of the Coalition are continuing to monitor transactions and markets for those parts of Iraq’s national patrimony that have not yet been recovered. And we will continue that effort.

Mr. Minister, the country is on the road to democracy and stability. In the next few weeks we will have an interim government in place. One of the first jobs will be to prepare for national elections. No doubt, there are still some anti-democratic forces that are trying to stop this. But I want to assure you, they will not succeed.

Mabruk al Iraq al Jadeed.

Aash al-Iraq!


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