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Historical Monuments and Museums transferred to Greece’s Privatization Fund

Archaeologists and sites Guards are up in arms after the  Greek Finance Ministry issued a decision ordering the trasnfer several historical sites and buildings,  museums, monuments and historical buildings to the Super Privatization Fund.

“They belong de facto to the state and are off any trade,” the Greek Archaeologists Association said in a statement with the title “No to sale off of  the country’s monuments” issued on Wednesday.

According to the archaeologists a total of 10, 119 archaeological sites, museums and historical buildings have been transferred to the Privatization Fund, many of them from the area in and around Chania on the island of Crete.

“Monuments are protected by the Constitution, they cannot be transferred or be sold,” the Association said adding that this  unprecedented transfer became known  when the catalogue of  the monuments in and around Chania became public.

Among those monuments and museums in Chania are the new Archaeological Museum, the archaeological museum located inside the St Francis Church, the National Museum Eleftherios Venizelos, the Historical Archive of Crete,  several Venetian and Byzantine moats, fortifications and bastions as well as properties where important Minoan architectural remains have been discovered.

“Is Acropolis next?” the Association of Guards at archaeological sites said in an equally angry statement on Thursday adding that also land plot where excavations take place have been transferred. The threaten with  strikes.

“Our response will be very tough. Our cultural heritage belongs to all Greeks, no government has the right to negotiate about it or trasnfer ownership,” they said in their statement.

How could this happen?

The Committee assigned with the trasnfer of the state properties to the Privatization Fund is free to act  as it likes.

Apparently, the Finance Ministry did not take the necessary measures in time to exempt all these sites, museums and monuments.

Negligence? On purpose? In hope that the illegal transfer will not be flown out?

Fact is that the trasnfer takes place with the ministerial decision.

In a statement issued  earlier on Thursday, the Finance Μinistry said  “that the ministerial decree for the transfer does not mean that the transfer is automatic as control checks have to be conducted first.”

At the same time it explains that from the trasnfer are exempted sea shores, beaches, areas under natural protection, archaeological sites and pure forest areas, , squares, streets, ports*” and a list of  other state properties that have little to do with the issue.

The Finance Ministry says among others that the transfer of public properties to Privatization Fund was one of the 88 lender’s prerequisites for the conclusion of the 4th review of the Greek program.

I remember when finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos issued a transfer order from properties belonging to the National Tourism Organization. The decision of  June 2016 had also ordered the transfer for privatization also of the tomb of  prominent politician Eleftherios Venizelos.

Meanwhile media in Chania urge local authorities to demand explanations from the central government and take action.

On Friday morning, Culture Ministry Myrsini Zorba admitted the trasnfer and blamed her predecessor Lydia Koniordou for any possible negligence.

“It was wrong not to exclude the monuments in 2016, I suppose Mrs Koniordou had made some arrangement with the financ eministry, but I don’t know,” Zorba told media.

“This is the Law of 2016 that gave to the Privatization funds all properties of the Sate with the exception of declared archaeological sites, Ramsar regions etc. I have no reason to question the legal order of the Finance Ministry, ” Zorba added.

The previous day, the Culture Ministry tried to rebuke the archaeologists but it ultimately could but accept the bitter truth.

sources: several media

*Greece was forced by lenders to privatized its biggest ports in Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

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6 comments

  1. Let’s start by returning ALL the stolen artifacts from Greece throughout the centuries.

    Yes, England, France, other countries, “museums” around the world, private “collectors and “collections” should IMMEDIATELY return, let’s make it clear, the STOLEN HERITAGE of Greece and it’s unparalleled culture.

    Then, and only then, the IMF, EUF, BBF, BBS (Big Bull S**t) can start negotiations.

  2. I can appreciate the wisdom in transferring the management of archaeological sites to the private sector, and even the wisdom in selling museum buildings to the private sector, but the archaeological sites themselves and the exhibits in the museums cannot and must not be sold. Because they don’t belong to us, they belong to the ages – to the people who came before us and to the people who will come after. I would hope (and expect) that all opposition parties would make it clear that any archaeological sites and exhibits sold in this way will be returned to the ownership of the people without compensation should there be a change of government.

  3. this is the big danger when you let the state _own_ property- any time they like, what you thought was inviolably public, can just be sold off (and almost certainly in a very corrupt manner!) ..
    public property is something else.. it’s among other things igot to be nalienable without the direct and overwhelming agreement of the public. the state is not the owner, it is merely a custodian, and as custodian it can no more sell that property than i can sell the house i am hired to clean to do maintenance work on it.

  4. American Archaeologist (Stephen Miller) who has lived over 40 years in Nemea, and famous for his excavations at Nemea has long argued that corporate sponsorship could benefit Greece and the tourists. Let Coca Cola (or Greek sponsors) come in and maintain the faciilities, and watch the improvement overnight of some of the run-down exhibits all over Greece. In return, they keep the money collected from the concession stands less whatever agreed upon Greek Government percentage they want. It’s a win-win. Already in the USA, we see corporate sponsorship improves the availability of venues to the most amount of people. There may be some of you who are anit- US, EU, progress etc, but why should the Greek archeologists hold onto these sites without letting the world see them in the best light.

  5. Prof. Dr. William Graham

    Private Property is Theft!

  6. Prof. Dr. William

    Greek artifacts and museums and monuments belong to the Greek people permanently. They cannot be privatized. That is a crime. \
    Private Property is Theft.

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