Speaking in the presence of the President and Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, their Excellencies Karolos Papoulias and Kostas Karamanlis, the Minister for Culture, Antonis Samaris, numerous Heads of State and Government, the President of the European Commission, Mr José Manuel Barroso and Mr George Anastassopoulos, President of UNESCO’s General Conference and Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to UNESCO, Mr Matsuura congratulated his hosts on the completion of the museum. Recalling his first visit to the Acropolis and the strong emotion he had felt on seeing the craftsmanship of the work undertaken 2,500 years ago, he observed that “this stunning new home for its artefacts is an important complement to the World Heritage site that will allow visitors to fully appreciate this outstanding heritage of humanity.”
“At UNESCO, we believe that museums are places where cultural legacies are safeguarded and transmitted to successive generations. By generating pride and mutual understanding through cultural representations, [they] foster appreciation for cultural diversity,” Mr Matsuura continued.
Congratulating the Hellenic Republic on its commitment to safeguarding heritage for future generations, the Director-General acknowledged its special contribution in the area of the return of cultural property, highlighting an international conference held in Athens in March 2008 and its support for the activities of the International Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation. In this regard, Mr Matsuura noted that “at its fifteenth session last month, this Committee adopted a recommendation jointly proposed by the Governments of Greece and the United Kingdom, inviting UNESCO to assist in convening necessary meetings between the two countries with the aim of reaching a mutually satisfactory solution to the issue of the Parthenon Marbles. We stand ready to do so,” he concluded.
In a meeting prior to the inauguration, the Director-General and President Papoulias discussed the outcomes of the Regional Summit of Heads of State of South East Europe held in Cetinje, Montenegro, on 4 June last. Mr Matsuura also paid warm tribute to Ambassador Anastassopoulos’s tireless work both in strengthening the bilateral cooperation between UNESCO and the Hellenic Republic and as President of UNESCO’s General Conference.
A lunch hosted by Ambassador Anastassopoulos provided the opportunity for wide ranging discussions with Mr Theodore Dravillas, Secretary of State for Culture, Mrs Maria Ekaterini Papachristopoulou-Tzitzikosta, the President of the Hellenic National Commission for UNESCO and Mrs Helena Korka, Director of Antiquities at the Ministry of Culture.
During his brief stay in Athens, the Director-General also had the opportunity to admire the collections of the National Archaeological Museum.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 123-2009 - Publication Date: 24-06-2009