Italy and Greece follow the same path in all matters of returning cultural goods that have been illegally exported”
In a conference in Florence, one of the main sections of which was dedicated to the need to reunite the Parthenon Sculptures and ended on Sunday evening, the Minister of Culture took part Lina Mendoni.
Responding to a question from APE-MPE about the importance of this initiative and about Italy’s substantial support for our country’s request for the return of the Sculptors, Mrs. Mendoni underlined:
“A strong message was indeed sent from Florence. All of us who were present – and all the Italians, except for me and Mr. Stampolidis, who took part with a remote message – emphasized how important it is, for cultural heritage internationally, to reach the return and reunification of the Sculptors in Athens. I must say that after the excellent consultation and agreement on the return of the Fagan fragment, which was in Sicily, it is now proven that Italy and Greece follow the same path in all matters of the return of cultural goods that have been illegally exported from the two countries . This was demonstrated in the best possible way, both at the level of the regional government of Sicily and the Italian Republic which, in the end, advocated for the Fagan fragment to remain in Athens and its reunification in the Acropolis Museum.”
Always referring to the warm welcome she received in Florence, Lina Mendoni emphasized: “The support of the Italians was confirmed, among others, by the intervention of the governor of Tuscany and the director of the Archaeological Museum of Naples. The scientific arguments were intense, but there was – as we all found out – also an emotional charge, especially when our National Anthem was heard, which our Italian friends asked to be echoed.”
In response to a question from APE-MPE about the next steps of the Ministry of Culture to achieve this key goal, Mrs. Mendoni replied:
“The prime minister, in his interview with the Sunday Times yesterday, said he would raise the subject of the return of the Sculptors to Mrs. Truss, the new Prime Minister of Britain. Therefore, our request will be put once again from the most official lips. We, as the Ministry of Culture – obviously under the instructions of the prime minister – on the one hand follow the direction of highlighting the issue at the international level and on the other hand declare in all directions that we are ready to enter into dialogue with the British side, as stipulated by the UNESCO decision, of September 2021. That is, in an honest dialogue. And I will repeat, once again, what the Prime Minister said to Boris Johnson, in November 2021: “as long as the sculptures are returned to Athens, Greece will ensure that the rooms in the British Museum are not left empty, but our country ensures him periodical exhibitions”. Something that we think will attract the interest of an audience that will want to constantly see new things.”
During her stay in the Renaissance capital, the minister visited the Turisma exhibition, dedicated to archeology and cultural tourism.
Mrs. Mendoni arrived in Florence immediately after her trip to Mexico, where she participated in Mundiacult 2022, the international conference organized by UNESCO. It is recalled that the previous one had taken place forty years ago, where Melina Merkouri had raised for the first time, from his platform, the issue of the return of the Sculptors. In her turn, Mrs. Mendoni, referring to Melina Merkouri’s initiative, emphasized that after forty years, the return and reunification of the Sculptors is a matter of absolute moral order and legitimacy, as well as the need for an honest dialogue between the two governments.
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