‘You Can’t Isolate Russian Culture’: Valery Gergiev Ready to Perform in Kosovo

© Sputnik/ Vadim Zhernov

© Sputnik/ Vadim Zhernov

Sputniknews – 3/2/17

“If I knew that I as a musician could help save cultural monuments in Kosovo and Metohija, I would do my very best to give a concert there,” the famous Russian conductor Gergiev, who performed in Syrian Palmyra in 2016, said when meeting with reporters in Belgrade.

Earlier, a concert performed at Belgrade’s Sawa Center by Valery Gergiev and the Symphony Orchestra of St. Petersburg’s acclaimed Mariinsky Theater was met with an enthusiastic response by local critics and music lovers alike.

In May 2016 the Mariisnsky Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev, performed on the ruins of ancient Palmyra in Syria liberated from terrorists.

During the press conference in Belgrade Gergiev said that Palmyra had since been recaptured by terrorists and had suffered more destruction.

“This means that people are still unable to appreciate the significance of the cultural heritage of the Syrian people and of the whole world,” Gergiev said.

“Unfortunately, there is nothing musicians can possibly do about those who destroy our cultural heritage. This is something that politicians are mainly responsible for,” Gergiev noted.

Admitting that coming to Palmyra was a risky adventure, Gergiev said that the musicians were prepared to face the danger so that people everywhere could see what had remained of this great monument of human civilization.

“We wanted to let people know that we were ready to work to the best of our abilities to help the Syrian people restore these monuments. However, their destruction continues because politicians can’t work together. A hundred years from now the names of presidents and premiers will be forgotten, but the year when Palmyra was destroyed will forever be remembered,” Gergiev said.

He believes that mistakes like these are very hard to correct.

“If politicians can do nothing to save the monuments of Serbian culture, we’ll give another concert, but I hope that this won’t be necessary and politicians will learn to work together,” Valery Gergiev said.

The world-acclaimed conductor added that the idea of the concert in Palmyra was not to showcase musicians and orchestras, but to express emotions felt by the majority of people living in the world.

“When [Mstislav] Rostropovich played in front of the torn down Berlin Wall, he was expressing the emotions of hundreds of millions of people. Now billions of people deplore the destruction of Palmyra and the pain and suffering of the Syrian people.”
Gergiev said that despite the complex geopolitical situation and attempts to show Russia in a bad light, Russian culture cannot be isolated.

“You can’t isolate Russian culture. Those who think they can have no idea of the world they live in. Who can isolate Tchaikovsky?” Gergiev wondered.

Since the 1999 NATO aggression against Yugoslavia and Kosovo going under international control, local Albanian radicals have destroyed an estimated 150 Christian churches, many of them dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries AD.

Some of these temples were later put on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

In the fall of 2015 the self-proclaimed Kosovo Republic tried to join the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization but this attempt fell through despite active support from the US and leading EU countries.

The countries that voted against Kosovo’s admission included the BRICS member-states and also Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population.

In December 2016, the Syrian government forces had to abandon Palmyra after Daesh stormed the city. The terrorists then moved for approximately 90 kilometers toward the city of Homs, taking key heights and several villages near Palmyra.

Commenting on the Daesh offensive on Palmyra, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the situation in Palmyra was a result of “discordant actions of different political forces in Syria.”