EU ambassador backs Egypt’s efforts to recover smuggled antiquities

European Union Ambassador to Egypt Ivan Surkos put forward his support for Egypt’s efforts to recover its smuggled and stolen artifacts, the Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.

In a statement to MENA, Surkos asserted the importance of working to exchange information to prevent any activities related to the smuggling and illegal trafficking of cultural property and monuments.

This came in response to Egypt questioning the EU’s stance and urging its ambassadors EU to cooperate to recover the head of Tutankhamun statue in the Christie’s auction hall in London set for July 4.

Egypt is part of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property applied by European countries, though smugglers and criminals always have some means to take a proactive step to authorities, the ambassador said.

He added that he had been briefed on news reports published recently regarding the Tutankhamun bust sake at an auction house in London. He expressed confidence that the British authorities would investigate and take all necessary measures in this regard.

Surkos said that cultural heritage is a renewable resource and if managed and used correctly, can be exploited for the benefit of future generations.

He expressed hope that the development of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, funded by the European Union, would stimulate tourism and contribute to Egypt’s sustainable social and economic development.

Surkos said that five prominent European museums will cooperate with the Egyptian side to help provide a comprehensive outline of the Egyptian Museum. This plan will cover all jobs at the museum, he said.

His remarks came on the sidelines of a ceremony held Monday night at the Egyptian Museum, during which a cooperation agreement was signed between the Egyptian government and the European Union to begin the project of developing the Egyptian Museum.

The EU allocates a grant of 1.3 million euros over three years for the rehabilitation of the Egyptian Museum in preparation to place it on the World Heritage List.

The signing ceremony was attended by the ministers of international cooperation and antiquities, the EU ambassador to Egypt, more than 40 foreign ambassadors to Cairo, a number of Egyptian parliamentarians, Egyptian archaeologists and directors of international museums.

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