Source: Association of Greek Archaeologists
INVITATION TO PRESS CONFERENCE, INTERNATIONAL APPEAL SUPPORT GREEK CULTURAL HERITAGE, WEDNESDAY 14 MARCH 2012 AT 13.30PM
Wednesday 14 March 2012
Press Conference of the Association of Greek Archaeologists
On the launching of the International Appeal
Support Greek Cultural Heritage against IMF Cuts
At the Association of Greek Archaeologists Building
Ermou 136, Theseion, Athens
For information contact:
International Appeal of the Association of Greek Archaeologists
Support Greek Cultural Heritage against IMF Cuts
If monuments had a voice of their own, they would tell us what has been going on in Greece in the past two years. In the name of the global economic crisis and with the IMF acting as a Trojan Horse, austerity measures have been undermining public services, welfare State and social cohesion. Democracy and national dignity are under attack.
Monuments have no voice, they have us
We, the 950 Greek Archaeologists, civil servants working in the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, are fighting against the destruction of both our country and our cultural heritage, because of the policies dictated by the IMF and the Troika.
The Greek Archaeological Service is not overstuffed, nor are we being overpaid. We serve in order to protect our cultural heritage and monuments, all over Greece, facing constant lack of funding and personnel, dedicated to the pursuit of scientific knowledge and to access to culture as a public good. Our scientific work has won international recognition. For more than 170 years we have been organizing excavations, studying Greek civilization, organizing Museums not with stolen antiquities but with well-documented exhibits, restoring monuments, organizing educational programs and helping bringing together Ancient culture and modern art.
As civil servants we have neither sought after luxury or over-spending, nor have we been accused of corruption, in sharp contrast the practices of the government and the political system that today promises to “save our country”.
As archaeologists in the land that inherited democracy to the world we are perfectly aware of the dangers associated with the suppression of democracy. We are struggling to preserve the memory and the material traces of the past, because we know that a people without memory are condemned to repeat the same mistakes again and again.
Monuments have no voice. They must have yours!
We are making an urgent appeal to our colleagues, to scholars and citizens all over Europe and the whole world, all the people expressing their solidarity and support to the Greek people, to defend cultural heritage and historical memory. The peoples of Europe share the same destiny. The same austerity packages and authoritarian measures, that are currently tearing apart Greece and its monuments, are going to be imposed across Europe.
Culture is our common ground and our common destiny
Resist! Defend Greek Cultural Heritage and democracy.
EUROPE without memory, EUROPE without future
According to the Greek Constitution, Cultural Heritage belongs to the Greek people and its protection is a responsibility of the State. The Archeological Service, as part of the Ministry of Culture, fulfils this responsibility.
Today in Greece there are:
· 66 Ephorates of Antiquities. They deal with the administrative work and the enforcement of the laws dealing with Cultural Heritage (permits for construction works, demands by citizens etc.), the organization and running of archaeological sites and museums, excavations and archaeological surveys, and archaeological scientific research.
· 106 museums and collections of pre-historic, classical and Byzantine antiquities (http://www.yppo.gr/5/g5171.jsp?obj_id=35556)
· 250 organized archaeological sites
· 19.000 declared archaeological sites and historical monuments (http://listedmonuments.culture.gr/search_declarations.php)
· 366 projects co-funded with the European Union, with a total budget of 498 million euros, that are the responsibility of the Archaeological Service
· Hundreds of excavations that are currently in progress, either in the context of public works or as part of research projects (http://www.yppo.gr/5/g5110.jsp), expanding our knowledge of the ancient world.
All these are the responsibility of just
7000 employees of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism which include 950 archaeologists, civil servants, and 2000 guards and night-guards. Moreover, each year 3500 extra employees are hired on short term contracts.
In November 2011 10% of the total workforce of the Ministry of Culture, that represented the most experienced employees (with more than 33 years of experience) were forced to leave the service and retire, as part of plans to reduce the total number of public sector employees in Greece. Further personnel cuts would mean that the Ministry of Culture will be unable to cover even its basic needs.
The personnel of the Greek Archaeological Service for many decades have been working with poor means and limited funding
· Funding for culture in Greece never exceeded 1% of the State budget
· Net Salaries of archaeologists in 2009 were from 880 (newly appointed) to 1550 euros (after 35 years in the service). In 2012 a newly appointed archaeologist receives 670 euros (after taxes and social security contributions), and we have had a 35% wage reduction
· In 2011 the budget for the Archaeological service is 12 million euros (with a 35% reduction compared to 2010) and in 2012 we are facing further cuts
· Despite the burglary in the National Gallery and the armed robbery at the Museum in Olympia on 5 March 2012 the Minister of Culture decided to cut funding for Museum security by 20%
A new law that is going to pass through parliament in the next days, the Greek government is planning personnel cuts of 30-50% at the Ministry of Culture. Damage is going to be irreparable. We must stop them!
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