The exhibition “From Rapture to return”, with images, which were stolen and repatriated, was inaugurated by the Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni at the Center for the protection and promotion of history and Art of the metropolis of Ioannina.

In the exhibition, which is co-organized by the Μetropolis and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Ioannina, are presented with rich supervisory material, 24 images-heirlooms and 2 pairs of doors, which were stolen in the past from circuits of sacrilegious and looters, from temples and monasteries of the metropolis of Ioannina and were found in galleries abroad.

As Lina Mendoni said, ” the illegal trafficking and trafficking of cultural goods is part of a wider criminal activity, which is highly complex and well-networked internationally. Along with the Arms Trade and the drug trade, the trade of stolen cultural goods, through the anti-theft circuits, is the most profitable in the world.

Greece has developed a multidimensional and dynamic policy for the effective protection of this heritage. Our institutional framework has been strengthened. The first legislative initiative of the Ministry of Culture after July 2019 was the reintroduction of strict penalties for looters, which had been reduced after the amendment of the codes, one week before the July 2019 elections.

Through the competent Directorate of documentation and protection of Cultural Property, we have developed a very dynamic role in international fora, ratifying international conventions and treaties for the protection of cultural heritage in peacetime and in wartime. At the same time, we are developing bilateral and multilateral international cooperation, in order to strengthen the measures taken internationally on the illicit trafficking of cultural goods”.

As the minister said, ” it is not easy, neither to claim, nor to repatriate works, even when you know that these cultural goods belong to Greece. Very strong evidence is needed, based on international conventions and the institutional framework of the countries from which we claim repatriation. It is a difficult and time-consuming process, which must be done tactfully, silently, with stubbornness. What is important is to return the cultural asset to the country it belongs to”.

Regarding the repatriation of the relics of Epirus, Lina Mendoni noted that “I am happy, because in Epirus you are all together, we are all together, in the effort to recover the cultural goods, the icons, stolen years ago from the monasteries and chapels of the area. There is no one left in the fight against antiquities and in the fight against repatriation. I confess that it grieves me when people, politicians or archaeologists, are found fighting a repatriation for reasons of impression or opposition. The repatriation of cultural goods is a national issue that concerns us all. Every antiquity, every image, every cultural asset of the country, is part of our identity. And we must all together contribute to their repatriation.”

Αμφίγραπτο τμήμα επιστυλίου τέμπλου

At the event of the opening of the exhibition, Metropolitan Maximos of Ioannina, the regional governor of Epirus Alexandros Kachrimanis, the mayor of Ioannina Moses Elisaf, attended and addressed the head of the Directorate of documentation and protection of cultural goods of the Ministry of culture Vaso Papageorgiou and the head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Ioannina Varvara Papadopoulou. Parliamentarians of Ioannina, Stavros Kalogiannis and Maria Kefala attended.

At the Byzantine Museum of Ioannina, a workshop was held on the illegal trafficking of Antiquities, the measures taken to address the problem as well as the information and awareness-raising actions of the public. The aim of the workshop was to inform the public about the protection of cultural objects from their abduction and illegal trafficking. The workshop was organized by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Ioannina, in collaboration with the Directorate of archaeological museums, exhibitions and educational programs, the Directorate of documentation and protection of Cultural Property and the Holy Metropolis of Ioannina.

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