U.S. and Greece Work Together to Protect Cultural Heritage

September 29, 2021

Ambassador Pyatt and Minister Mendoni at the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens.

September 22, 2021. Athens, Greece: The United States and Greece signed a bilateral cultural property agreement extending existing import restrictions for Greek cultural property and expanding the terms of the agreement to include additional categories of ecclesiastical ethnological material.  

This agreement solidifies our shared commitment to combat looting and trafficking of cultural artifacts. The pillage of heritage sites and the sale of antiquities on the international market not only benefit transnational criminal organizations but also represent an irretrievable loss of historical information.  

This agreement allows the United States to continue import restrictions on certain categories of Greek cultural property, reducing the incentive to loot sites in Greece. The agreement allows U.S. law enforcement to return trafficked cultural objects to Greece and fosters interchange between U.S. and Greek cultural institutions. It will protect cultural heritage in Greece, promote a clean U.S. market, build respect for the cultural heritage of minority communities, and increase academic exchanges, museum exhibitions, and research opportunities for the American public.  

The United States has been unwavering in its commitment to protect and preserve cultural heritage around the world and to restrict trafficking in cultural property, which is often used to fund terrorist and criminal networks. This cultural property agreement was negotiated by the State Department under the U.S. law implementing the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The United States has cultural property agreements with more than twenty countries around the world, as well as emergency import restrictions on cultural property from Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

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