Cairo to Host Conference on Stolen Antiquities
Cairo: The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced on Wednesday that 30 countries that possess ancient Egyptian monuments and artifacts will participate in a conference next April in Cairo to discuss the restoration and recovery of the artifacts, especially those removed after the signing of a UNESCO agreement in the 1970s.
The secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass, said, “The conference, organized by Egypt, aims at discussing the conditions returning antiquities stolen after the signing of the UNESCO agreement.”
As for the effects looted by colonial powers in the 17th and 18th centuries, Hawass said, “This is a big issue that cannot be dealt with now, and while we think it will be discussed in this conference, it won’t be the main focus.”
Egyptian archaeologists believe that there are many ancient Egyptian artifacts that were looted over the centuries, including the planetarium of the Dandara Temple, various statues and obelisks currently decorating European capitals. In addition, they believe other famous items like the bust of Nefertiti and the Rosetta Stone, were acuired through the use of forged.
The late Greek Culture Minister Melina Mercouri raised this issue in the 1980s with the idea of restoring Greek antiquities, looted by Britain during its occupation, and launched a campaign to recover these relics.
Hawass added that the aim of this conference was, “consultation among these countries to find specific recommendations for the restoration artefacts, including the preparation of a list of all antiquities that these states want to recover from museums around the world.”
The conference will also discuss, ” taking collective action at the international level to support the efforts to retrieve looted antiquities and review international legislation concerning the rights of states to recover their monuments.”
Hawass added that Egypt had a long way to go but has significant experience with the recovery of its stolen monuments. Egypt will put its experience use when dealing with representatives of the participating countries to recover the stolen monuments.
States participating in the conference, in addition to Egypt, will be Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Iraq, China, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Korea, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru.