With great pleasure, I welcome the opening of the conference for the protection and return of cultural property, especially congratulating the Foundation for International Legal Studies of Professor Ilias Krispis and Dr. Anastasia Samara, for the initiative to organize a conference on a timeless, particularly imperative and significant topic, with the participation of distinguished scientists from Greece and the Diaspora.
I congratulate and I thank the co-organizers of this conference, the National Kapodestrian University of Athens, the Acropolis Museum and especially my dear friend, Head of the Museum, Professor Demetris Pantermalis.
The return of cultural property to their country of origin is one of the issues towards which the nations of the world are converging. Suffice it to mention that exactly one year ago, a resolution was adopted by 85 member – states and on our country’s initiative, at the UN General Assembly, entitled “The return or restitution of cultural heritage to their country of origin”. The draft resolution had been proposed by Greece’s permanent UN representative, my Alexandrian friend, Ambassador Anastasis Mitsialis.
In particular, the return of the Parthenon Marbles, does not only concern Greece, as the issue regards the integrity of a global cultural symbol. The vision and struggle of the late Melina Merkouri paves the way to proceed, having millions of supporters from all over the world. Greeks worldwide are especially mobilized on this issue and are constantly making efforts to raise awareness and inform the public opinion in the countries they reside.
The World Council of Hellenes Abroad, as the voice of the organized Diaspora, has prioritized this issue highly on its agenda. That is why we supported with great pleasure and pride, the initiative of our Youth Networks, worldwide, to launch their campaign for the collection of signatures through an online petition created for this purpose”, stated Mr. Tamvakis. “The campaign was launched in December 2009, from here, the New Acropolis Museum, aiming towards the collection of thousands of signatures and to proceed to take the next steps, having the London Olympics of 2012 as an initial target date.
In conclusion, I’d like to welcome our distinguished speakers from Greece and abroad, I wish them every success in the conference sessions and we look forward to the conference’s conclusions, which I am certain will be properly employed, so that the day the Marbles return in their natural setting, this ideal Museum, embracing history and our cultural heritage, will soon come.