“Our cultural heritage is not for sale,” said Despina Koutsoumba, the director of the Greek Archaeological Association. “We do not want that markets govern our cultural heritage, our history and our democracy,” .
Since the 2009 crisis, Greece has had to make huge savings to meet the international donors in exchange for aid plans. Also, the budget of the Ministry of Culture has dropped 35% and about 2,000 people were laid off.
Archaeologists believe that 7,000 archaeologists, guards and officials are not in sufficient numbers to protect and monitor 20,000 monuments, sites and museums that attract millions of tourists every year. The reduction in funding for culture has led to reduced opening hours of museums and monuments, and questioned the protection of the rich Greek heritage.
The association asks for lovers of ancient culture to the panels with “defending the Greek cultural heritage” in front of Greek statues in museums around the world and spread the photos on the web.
They hope the campaign will convince the government to reduce redundancies in the department and to return to the expected decline in 2012 , including a 20% cut in funding for museum security.
In January, three major works, including a Picasso and Mondrian, were stolen from the National Gallery of Athens.
In February, armed thieves looted a museum in Greece’s Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games, stealing bronze and pottery artefacts. Following these flights, the Greek Minister of Culture, Pavlos Yeroulanos, submitted his resignation, which was refused.