United States and Albania Work Together to Protect Cultural Heritage

August 23, 2021

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Matthew Lussenhop and Albanian’s Minister of Culture Elva Margariti concluded a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding that protects Albanian cultural property on August 23, 2021. This agreement solidifies the shared commitment between the United States and Albania to counter looting and trafficking of cultural objects, to guarantee a clean art and antiquities market in the United States, and to increase opportunities for the U.S. public, museums, and researchers to appreciate Albania’s history and culture.

The agreement allows the United States to establish import restrictions on certain categories of Albania’s cultural property, thus reducing the incentive to loot archaeological and historical sites in Albania. The agreement also gives U.S. law enforcement the ability to repatriate trafficked cultural objects back to Albania and it will foster interchange of Albanian cultural heritage with U.S. institutions. 

The United States is unwavering in its commitment to protect and preserve cultural heritage around the world and to prevent trafficking, which is often used to fund terrorist and criminal networks. The cultural property agreement was negotiated by the Department of State under the U.S. law implementing the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The United States has cultural property agreements with countries around the world, as well as emergency import restrictions on cultural property from Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.