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Nikos Xydakis - Unesco



Le ministre adjoint à la Culture M. Nikos Xydakis a prononcé un discours lors de la Troisième réunion des États parties à la Convention de 1970.


"Stop au trafic illicite des biens culturels"

Paris 18 - 20 mai 2015

Lors de son passage à Paris, le ministre adjoint à la Culture M. Nikos Xydakis a accordé une interview à Romaric Godin, journaliste, au journal La Tribune : "Le gouvernement grec se bat pour la dignité de la Grèce"  (lire)




Mr Alternate Director General for Culture,

Mr. Chairman,


Distinguished representatives of the Member States,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends


It is my honor and my pleasure to be here today representing the Greek Government as the Alternate Minister of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs. Greece , 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.

In 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.

As the famous Greek poet, Giorgos Seferis, says:

“…We who set out on this pilgrimage looked at the broken statuesbecame distracted and said that life is not easily lost….”

Indeed, 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.

Greece 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.

Let 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 Greece ’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:

-Law enforcement through close cooperation among Police, Judicial and Archaeological Authorities as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

-Prevention through raising public awareness and establishing international cooperation networks.

-Strict monitoring of illegal trade of antiquities using detailed lists and especially export certificates.

-Repatriation of cultural goods which have been illegally exported out of the country and return of illicitly imported cultural goods to their countries of origin.

As 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:

-Neolithic material from illegal excavations conducted by the Nazi during the 2nd world war Occupation,

-Two Cycladic objects illegally exported out of the country, returned to Greece from Germany .

-Six classical antiquities illegaly exported and two Byzantine manuscripts stolen in the 1960’s, returned to Greece from the USA .

-Quite a few Byzantine icons stolen recently and returned to Greece from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands .

It 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 Iraq , in Syria in Libya 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.

The 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.

We 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 Iraq on the same issue.

We know very well that as a result of cultural cleansing and illegal excavations in Syria , Irak , Libya 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.

We follow with profound anxiety the siege of Palmyra and we hope that even at the last moment Palmyra 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:


We should all form a broad coalition, to end this calamity

Let’s work together in order to persuade every country to ratify our Convention as well as the UNIDROIT Convention.

Let’s strengthen our legislations and empower our special police and customs authorities to impede any cultural object without valid export certificate to cross our borders.

Let’s cooperate closely on an intergovernmental level, together with our police officers, custom officers and experts.

We should use efficiently all relevant databases and tools developed by international bodies such as the International Police

Organization (INTERPOL), the World Customs Organization and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

We should encourage our museums to fully respect the Code of Ethics and cooperate with the International Council of Museums.

We need to set up a system scrutinizing or control the sales on the Internet as well as any art transactions.

Let’s educate our youth and raise public awareness on the issue of illicit trafficking.

Dear Friends,

I would like to reassure you that my country, my ministry and me, personally, carefully engaged in the fight against illicit trafficking.

I 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

Thank you






Statement of the 3rd Meeting of States parties to the UNESCO 1970 Convention,

18-20 May 2015

Initiative by Greece


The Meeting of States Parties to the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the "Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property"

Recognizing that in a world characterized by rapid change and innovation, the international community has to face illicit trade of cultural property as a severe form of trafficking,

Deeply concerned about the current situation in many parts of the world where massive destructions and looting of cultural heritage as well as illegal excavations resulting in the increase of illegal trade of cultural property,

Urges States to become parties to the UNESCO 1970 Convention;

Makes an appeal to all states to adopt specific measures according to international law including the UNESCO 1970 Convention in order to prevent illicit trafficking and the destruction and pillaging of cultural property in their territory, and also referring in this regard to the recently adopted Operational Guidelines to the 1970 Convention;

Stresses the need for intergovernmental cooperation on the matter, as well as active participation of all interested third parties especially those active in the fields of art and culture;

Underlines the need for respect of the UNESCO International Code of Ethics for Dealers in Cultural Property and the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums;

Calls upon States, media and other stakeholders to raise public awareness concerning the respect and protection of cultural property.


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