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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-04-14

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Search in Schinousa reveals another 20 antiquities
  • [02] Minister addresses SE European Pact summit

  • [01] Search in Schinousa reveals another 20 antiquities

    Another 20 marble antiquities were discovered on Friday as police continued to search a luxury villa in Schinousa used by Greek shipowner Despina Papadimitriou, a permanent resident of London.

    During a raid earlier this week on the same villa, registered as the property of an offshore company, police had discovered 37 ancient artifacts.

    Press sources said that archaeologists Panagiotis Hatzidakis of the Cyclades Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities service and Christos Tsirogiannis of the Antiquities Dealers and Private Collections inspectorate had been brought in to record the finds.

    Among the most shocking of these was a church dedicated to St. Vassilios built in the villa's courtyard that experts said was built with materials taken from an old Byzantine church and contained rare ancient artifacts whose origins remain unknown.

    The 20 additional artifacts discovered on Friday were in the basement of the huge villa, which sprawls across 1,000 square metres, many placed on display in various rooms.

    Among them was a marble headless statue of Aphrodite that archaeologists consider the most important of all the antiquities found in the villa, which might be a Roman copy of the famous statue by Praxiteles.

    Other ancient artifacts were found wrapped in containers, leading police to suspect that they come from other parts of the world, such as Asia or Africa, and that the villa was used as a way-station for items that were destined to go abroad.

    Investigating officers also pointed out that many of the items had been legally purchased in auctions by their owners but had not been registered.

    At the same time, they are continuing to investigate the possibility that an international antiquities-smuggling ring involving individuals in Europe and America might be behind the affair and that it may be linked with the cases being investigated by Public Prosecutor Ioannis Diotis.

    Diotis had visited Rome last November to receive photographs of antiquities originating from illegal archaeological digs and attended the trial of Marion True, a former curator of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles who resigned after she was accused of having bought ancient artifacts that she knew were stolen.

    Greek authorities had then searched a house owned by Marion True on the island of Paros and found a few ancient artifacts that had not been declared, while Diotis had called two people in for questioning in the past few days in connection with these findings. Though nothing has been announced, it is widely believed that their testimony may be linked to the discovery of the ancient artifacts in the villa at Schinousa.

    Despina Papadimitriou, the woman using the villa, was the sister of shipowner Christos Mihailidis who died as a result of an accident in 1999. Mihailidis was known to have relations with True and antiquities dealer Robin Symes, whose activities also came under scrutiny during the Rome trial.

    It transpired during this trial that, following Mihailidis' death, the family had sued Symes in 2001 and demanded half of the antiquities in his possession, which they claimed had been obtained jointly with Mihailidis.

    According to sources in the shipping community, the family owns an offshore company that handles nine large tankers and keeps offices in London and Kolonaki.

    Meanwhile, Greek authorities are trying to secure the return of four artifacts of the 3rd century B.C. that are considered to be of great archaeological value from the J. Paul Getty Museum. Greece lodged a request through diplomatic channels over a year ago for their return as antiquities illegally smuggled out of the country.

    The culture ministry is expected to publish a full list of the items found at the Schinousa villa on Friday.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [02] Minister addresses SE European Pact summit

    Culture minister presides over SE European Stability Pact ministerial summit

    Culture Minister George Voulgarakis welcomed the culture ministers representing the countries of the Southeast European Stability Pact convening in Patra on Friday.

    "It is a great pleasure and honour for Greece to be hosting the first meeting of cultural ministers from our countries. The venue of the summit is particularly symbolic, since Patra - a Southeast European city - is Europe's Cultural Capital for 2006," Voulgarakis said.

    He referred to the role culture plays in helping peoples communicate, saying that "Predicting the future cannot be done through the short-sighted glasses of the past. History, reality itself, shows us the way towards understanding (...) and reminds us that civilisations that became extinct where those which chose isolation and non-communication."

    According to Voulgarakis, culture is the only steadfast factor for communication, understanding and progress.

    He also referred to the geographical position of the countries belonging to the stability pact and their individual civilisations.

    "Our region, as an international cross-roads, has all the elements of a meeting point of civilisations and the melding of messages from both East and West. Our countries are recipients but also bridges of various influences and perspectives in art, politics, economy and religion," he said.

    Referring to Greece and its role, as a southeast European country and an EU member, Voulgarakis said: "We are absolutely confident that cooperation in the region will benefit all of us."

    According to Voulgarakis, Greece is building its future based on the concept that "culture is the appropriate medium for developing the broader region's comparative advantages - both on an economic and social level - towards prosperity, stability and peace."

    As for policy objectives, Voulgarakis said they should include: promoting dialogue among peoples, strengthening inter-cultural dialogue, protecting and promoting cultural diversity, promoting artistic creativity, and recognising the importance of culture as a factor in economic development, social integration and cohesion, among others.

    Joint statement issued

    After the conference, which focused on bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the cultural sector, existing networks, and future prospects, Voulgarakis read a joint statement adopted by the participating ministers.

    According to the statement, the ministers recognise the region's enormous cultural potential and agree to establish a broad-reaching cooperation including institutional partners, non-government organisations, and representatives from the art and academic communities.

    In the statement, the ministers also underscored their interest in helping EU candidate countries participate in EU cultural programmes.

    Following the conference, Voulgarakis held a press conference, during which he reiterated the government's support for Patra as European Cultural Capital, support that is evident through the infrastructure being created, such as a new theatre that recently opened.

    On Saturday, the ministers will tour Ancient Olympia followed by a visit to the facilities of winemaker Achaia Claus.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

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