THE GREEK ALTERNATE MINISTER OF CULTURE
Alternate Director General for Culture,
representatives of the Member States,
is my honor and my pleasure to be here today representing the Greek
Government as the Alternate Minister of Culture, Education and Religious
, the motherland of classical civilization which introduced the
principles of freedom and democracy is very sensitive to the issue of
the protection of cultural heritage embodying humanity’s civilization.
You all know the pillaging my country has suffered all along its history
just like many other countries with rich cultural heritage, being
represented in this esteemed meeting.
our era, the large increase in theft of cultural objects from museums
and archaeological sites as well as illegal excavations led to the
adoption of the UNESCO 1970 Convention, one of the most important
Conventions in the framework of UNESCO, focusing on the protection of
cultural heritage of mankind. Today, 128 countries should be proud to be
contracting parties of this Convention.
the famous Greek poet, Giorgos Seferis, says:
who set out on this pilgrimage looked at the broken statuesbecame
distracted and said that life is not easily lost….”
dear friends, I strongly believe that all of us, being here today and
representing our States’ willingness to fight illicit trafficking of
cultural heritage share the idea that our life and our future – which
are based on our past-should not be easily left to be lost. This
Convention stands as a landmark to remind us of our obligations in
respect to the protection of cultural heritage . However, it is well
observed that the application of the Convention has not been fully
effective and it was only in 2012, during the 2nd Meeting of the States
Parties, that a Subsidiary Committee was established in order to promote
the purposes of the Convention and to monitor its implementation.
is honored to be
elected as a member of this Committee and I do believe that, in
cooperation with all States Parties, members of the Committee and
Observers, -my country has contributed constructively to the preparation
of the Operational Guidelines which were adopted by this Meeting.
me also take this opportunity to present very briefly the work being
conducted by my country concerning the protection of cultural property
and the fight against illicit trafficking. The adoption of specific
policies is one of our main goals since
’s cultural heritage dates back to the Paleolithic period. Through the
Archaeological Service, established in the 19th century, the Ministry of
Culture, has always concentrated its efforts on four levels:
enforcement through close cooperation among Police, Judicial and
Archaeological Authorities as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
through raising public awareness and establishing international
monitoring of illegal trade of antiquities using detailed lists and
especially export certificates.
of cultural goods which have been illegally exported out of the country
and return of illicitly imported cultural goods to their countries of
far as repatriations are concerned, I am pleased to inform you that,
since 2009, more than 30 cases of return of cultural goods have taken
place resulting to the repatriation of approximately 500 cultural goods,
10.600 sherds and large amount of osteological material. Among these, I
should underline the recent return of:
material from illegal excavations conducted by the Nazi during the 2nd
world war Occupation,
Cycladic objects illegally exported out of the country, returned to
classical antiquities illegaly exported and two Byzantine manuscripts
stolen in the 1960’s, returned to
a few Byzantine icons stolen recently and returned to
is in this context, which requires the constant need for international
cooperation, that we should reinforce our policies against the
destruction of places of cultural significance in
and in so many other parts of the world. In this regard, we express our
appreciation of the initiatives of the Director General of UNESCO Ms.
Bokova highlighting the provisions of the United Nations Security
Council Resolution 2199.
guidelines that UNESCO proposed for national actions and reporting by
Member States, go in the same direction as the Operational Guidelines of
the Subsidiary Committee, which were adopted yesterday by this Meeting.
are welcoming the initiatives of many of our partner countries for the
safeguarding of cultural heritage for the prevention of cultural
cleansing. We are also planning to send a mission to
on the same issue.
know very well that as a result of cultural cleansing and illegal
and so many other parts of the world, hundreds of thousands of artifacts
will travel illegally, away from their country of origin, never to be
returned, making an important amounts of money available to terrorists
for their operations. The Hellenistic antiquities have the sad privilege
of being the most demanded and the most thirsted artifacts in the
international art market, hence the most pillaged ones, as it is
difficult to identify their country of origin.
follow with profound anxiety the siege of
and we hope that even at the last moment
will not be destroyed pillaged. The member- states of the 1970
Convention should act in concert with the Director General of UNESCO.
There is no other way:
should all form a broad coalition, to end this calamity
work together in order to persuade every country to ratify our
Convention as well as the UNIDROIT Convention.
strengthen our legislations and empower our special police and customs
authorities to impede any cultural object without valid export
certificate to cross our borders.
cooperate closely on an intergovernmental level, together with our
police officers, custom officers and experts.
should use efficiently all relevant databases and tools developed by
international bodies such as the International Police
(INTERPOL), the World Customs Organization and United Nations Office on
Drugs and Crime.
should encourage our museums to fully respect the Code of Ethics and
cooperate with the International Council of Museums.
need to set up a system scrutinizing or control the sales on the
Internet as well as any art transactions.
educate our youth and raise public awareness on the issue of illicit
would like to reassure you that my country, my ministry and me,
personally, carefully engaged in the fight against illicit trafficking.
would also like to thank you, for the many constructive ideas emerging
from our esteemed Conference, where some of the world’s best experts
in this field participate