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
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
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
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
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.