Protecting Cultural Heritage: Insights from the AURORA EU Project Panel

On April 18, 2024, the “Meet, See, Do” Conference in Tivat, Montenegro, hosted a panel titled “On Measures to Prevent Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property – AURORA EU project.”

The panel featured four distinguished speakers, each shedding light on crucial aspects of safeguarding cultural heritage, Dr. Lujza Varga, Nataliya Chukhray, Olivera Dzartovska-Tachevska, and Cameron Walter.

Dr. Lujza Varga, Head of Department for International Cooperation at the Hungarian National Museum, set the stage by emphasizing museums’ pivotal role in combating illicit trafficking. With Hungary facing challenges like widespread illegal excavations fueled by the proliferation of metal detectors, Dr. Varga stressed the importance of protecting cultural artifacts through projects such as AURORA, which aims to enhance artwork verification through advanced chemical analysis and technologies.

Prof. Dr. Nataliya Chukhray, Vice-Rector for Education and International Relations at Lviv Polytechnic National University, addressed the devastating impact of war on cultural heritage, particularly in Ukraine. She cited alarming UNESCO reports detailing the destruction of 349 sites and 31 museums in just two years due to Russia’s full-scale invasion. Chukhray underscored Ukraine’s proactive measures, such as the Emergency Red List of Cultural Objects at Risk, and emphasized AURORA’s role in developing comprehensive tools for heritage protection amid ongoing crises.

Olivera Dzartovska-Tachevska brought a regional perspective, outlining North Macedonia’s rich cultural heritage of over 10,000 archaeological sites and extensive museum collections, and also the challenges it faces. Dzartovska-Tachevska highlighted the Blue Shield Committee‘s efforts in documenting cultural heritage and advocated for adherence to international standards in documentation. She also touched upon innovative theft prevention measures under the AURORA project, such as smart water forensic liquid, to deter illicit activities.

Cameron Walter, leading the Heritage Crime Task Force at OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department, provided insights into the operational dynamics of combating heritage trafficking networks. Formed to foster regional cooperation and intelligence sharing, the Task Force engages in training and capacity-building exercises aimed at dismantling criminal networks involved in heritage crime. Walter emphasized the Task Force’s collaborative efforts and its support for Ukraine in establishing a dedicated national heritage protection unit.

The AURORA EU project panel at the “Meet, See, Do” Conference in Tivat showcased exemplary efforts and collaborative initiatives in protecting cultural heritage, sparking engaging discussions among participants. The insights shared by panelists underscored the collective commitment to resilience and innovation in the face of ongoing challenges, as well as the importance of ongoing education, new policies, and technological innovation.


The AURORA project offers innovative, yet practical solutions and tools to mitigate the risks posed by illicit trafficking, helping safeguard cultural heritage. Stay tuned for more updates!

Follow Aurora project on website and LinkedIn.

Aurors is funded by the EU Horizon Programme.

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