Mendoni for the 161 antiquities: Vote for the agreement if you want them all to return to the country |  LiFO

Mendoni for the 161 antiquities: Vote for the agreement if you want them all to return to the country |

“If you want this collection to come to the whole country and not for us to resort to the courts and take one, two or five or ten of these antiquities, if you want all 161 antiquities to come, I invite you to vote in favor of the agreement,” he said the Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni.

The draft law on the ratification of the Agreement signed on July 21, 2022, with the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Museum of Cycladic Art (Kycladiko Museum), the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York (MET) and the Delaware-based Hellenic Ancient Culture Institute INC. – HACI is being voted on today in Parliament.

The said agreement concerns the return to Greece of a private collection consisting of a total of 161 antiquities of the Cycladic culture and its exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“Vote for the agreement if you want all 161 antiquities to return to the country”

Speaking from the floor of the Plenary in all wings of the Parliament, in view of tonight’s vote on the draft law for the ratification of the agreement on the return of the 161 antiquities of the Cycladic Civilization, Lina Mendoni emphasized, among other things, that “the agreement is in favor of Greek interests” .

As he explained, “the legal claim of the collection was assessed as having a minimal chance of a happy outcome and, however, did not guarantee the return of all 161 antiquities. It was impossible to find evidence for all 161 antiquities and we want them all to be repatriated.”

In addition, he pointed out that “all 161 antiquities may not be returned tomorrow, their return will be done gradually, but they will return. They will all return, without uncertainties, without the difficulties of proof and without any cost to the Greek public”.

Finally, he advised the opposition parties who claim that this agreement harms the claim of the Parthenon sculptures, “not to make comparisons with the claim of the Parthenon sculptures by the British Museum, because that way they work against Greek interests”, given that with the agreement ratified today, “Greece lends the Metropolitan Museum the antiquities, in order to exhibit them”, “the case of the British Museum is different”, the minister pointed out, saying that the British Museum considers itself to be the master, the owner of the Sculptures of the Parthenon, “something that Greece will never recognize, neither as ownership, nor as possession, nor as a prefecture”.

In relation to the criticism received by the provision that part of the antiquities will be exhibited by the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Minister of Culture underlined that the collection after the exhibition at the MET, will return to Greece to be exhibited in Greek museums and not necessarily in the Cycladic Museum . “The Ministry of Culture will choose the Greek museums, after the opinion of the KAS and a natural place for these Cycladic antiquities to go in 2048, is the Museum of Naxos which will be dedicated to Cycladic Culture,” said the Minister of Culture.

Confrontation in the Parliament on the agreement

The draft law passed today, which ratifies the Agreement for the return of antiquities of the Cycladic Civilization, became the subject of a debate in the Plenary Session of the Parliament.

The government assigns sovereign rights to the Greek people, assigns possession of antiquities, denounced the Head of the Department of Culture SYRIZA Anagnostopoulou Co. who requested the withdrawal of the draft law. The SYRIZA MP complained that the Ministry of Culture brought to the Parliament an “illegal agreement, an agreement in crypt without any legislative authorization from any law of the country, in order to launder illegal transactions”.

The minister is obliged to submit all the documents until Thursday when the case will reach the Plenary, said the Head of Culture of SYRIZA to emphasize that “here we are dealing with excess of duty and abuse of power”. SYRIZA, in a letter to the Speaker of the Parliament, has requested that the bill be withdrawn because it “obviously contradicts and circumvents the archaeological legislation”. He has also requested the deposition of all documents related to the establishment, constitution and operation of the Institute of Ancient Greek Culture of Delaware, which “jointly with a foreign ‘collector’ is blackmailing the Greek state”.

“Today, we see that the Ministry of Culture proceeded to enter into this agreement in order to fulfill the conditions and requirements of a private individual,” said the special buyer of PASOK-KINAL Dimitris Konstantopoulos who added that in the contract for the contribution of the 161 antiquities, between the collector Mr. Stern and the Institute of Ancient Greek Heritage in Delaware, Greek legislation was not applied but the laws of the state of New York. “Essentially Mr. Stern is choosing how to manage our cultural heritage for the next 50 years and while we know nothing about how these antiquities came into Mr. Stern’s possession,” said the specialist buyer of PASOK.

“The questions to the Government are relentless and demand answers. Is this or not a collection of important finds, products of poachers from important sites of the Cycladic civilization, which have apparently been illegally exported from Greece?” said the expert buyer of KKE Ioannis Delis. “Did or not our country have every legal and every moral reason to claim their direct ownership and possession? Is it a fact or not that the Greek Government and the Greek Parliament are mediating, in order to exhibit antiquities, illegally exported, in a private museum in New York, such as the MET, but also in Greece, such as the Museum of Cycladic Art, instead of really should these be repatriated in the true sense of the term?”, said the KKE MP who called on the Minister of Culture to answer why, apart from ownership, the Agreement does not include the possession of antiquities by the Greek State, which “is the essence of ownership ».

“The Greek Parliament is invited to ratify an agreement on antiquities that we do not know if they are fake. But if they are not fakes, which we hope they are not, then they are definitely the product of poaching and Mr. Stern is definitely an antiquarian. In other words, he is a receiver of antiquities products”, said his expert buyer Day25 Cleon Grigoriadis and underlined: “the government “should have immediately filed a lawsuit, immediately requested the extradition of Mr. Stern to Greece to be tried and convicted and imprisoned for Mr. Stern, who has antiquities of untold value, which does not they belong to him, to put in his living room. They belong to the Greek people.”

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