Greece and Egypt have agreed to boost efforts in the area of culture with a primary focus on jointly addressing the illegal trade of antiquities.
Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni welcomed Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled Ahmed El-Anani to Athens, where they discussed ways to protect cultural heritage, joint initiatives against illegal antiquities smuggling, and actions to promote Greek and Egyptian cultural sites and monuments.
El-Anani, who was in Athens on an official visit and earlier met with Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis, agreed to a bilateral agreement between Greece and Egypt, and to a trilateral deal including Cyprus on the protection of cultural foods, including antiquities and works of art from illicit trafficking.
The deal also foresees the organization of an international conference on the subject with the participation of culture ministers from countries facing high risk of antiquities smuggling.
During his Athens visit, El-Anani expressed Egypt’s support for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, which were removed illegally in the 1800s by Lord Elgin and then sold to the British Museum.
“Both our countries have agreed to condemn the illegal trafficking of antiquities and support the need for all stolen antiquities to be returned,” El-Anani said.
“We have considered all outstanding issues and express our solidarity and support for Greece for the recovery of all monuments that have been removed and to be returned to their birthplace,” the Egyptian minister added.
“Greece and Egypt are currently facing major issues concerning the illicit trafficking of cultural goods,” said Mendoni, adding that the two sides decided to “strengthen cooperation” and to sign a bilateral agreement to protect cultural goods from illegal trafficking.
Other issues on the agenda included museum policy, the inauguration this year of the new archaeological museum in Cairo, the exchange of know-how, and the protection of underwater antiquities.