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Is Greece considering to lease archaeological sites and museums for utilization?

Suspicion is near, Greece is considering to lease archaeological sites and museums for utilization in order to “maintain our cultural heritage,” as Culture Minister Mirsini Zorba said on Thursday criticizing the 24-hour strike launched by archaeologists, Culture Ministry staff, sites and museums guards.

Hundreds of tourists climbed to Acropolis of Athens on Thursday to find the gates closed and a note informing them about the 24-hour strike. Reason for the strike is that thousands of sites, museums and buildings have been transferred to Super Privatizations Fund.

In the nearby Museum of Acropolis that was open to public, tourists queued in order to be able to enter the museum and catch a glance of Acropolis from afar.

Many were disappointed to return to their countries without having visited the Acropolis on the last day of their vacations in Greece.

Some carelessly  proposed the personnel should have opened the gates and let the tourists onto the rock of Acropolis free of charge and free of supervision.

The staff of archaeological sites and museums launched the 24-hour strike in protest for the transfer of thousands of historical buildings, site and museums to the Super Privatization Fund.

In a protest at the entrance of Acropolis, workers at Greek Culture Ministry demanded the publishing of the full list of all the monuments transferred to the Fund as well as the conditions for their privatization .

They urged the Finance and the Culture Ministry to revoke the decision. They demanded “transparency” and threatened with more rolling strikes.

Newly appointed Culture Minister Mirsini Zorba appeared in the area of Acropolis to meet the protesters. She told reporters “some people have bought e-tickets for archaeological sites but cannot visit them. I don’t think that this is correct in the direction of protecting the cultural heritage, this hurts our cultural heritage.”

She added “it is a pity that the strike takes place the moment we go ahead with procedures aiming to maintain our cultural heritage for the first time so determined and in details.”

What did she mean by that? That archaeological sites and museums will not be sold but that  they could be leased for utilization?

Later on Thursday, Zorba announced that the full list of the protected sites will be submitted to the Parliament.

“Archaeological sites cannot be sold, it is legally impossible that they are transferred, they are protected by the same law that exempts archaeological sites and properties of public purpose,” Zorba told a Parliament committee today. She described the strike as a “fiesta.”

True is that when the issue emerged three weeks, Zorba claimed that the archaeological sites and museums were exempted.

However, a museum is neither an archaeological site, nor a monument.

So far there have been only “verbal commitments ” both by the Culture and the Finance Ministries and nobody has seen a written line on the paper. Not even by the Finance Ministry that is supposed to have issued a decision about the exemptions.

Somebody is mocking not only the archaeologists and the staff working at archaeological sites and museums staff but the Greek society as well.

A new meeting between archaeologists, site and museums staff and Zorba is scheduled for next week.

Will we know more by then?

PS I won’t be surprised if it turns out Greece will lease archaeological sites, museums and historical buildings for utilization for the next 99 years for the purpose of “maintaining our cultural heritage.”

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