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, the welfare state, and social cohesion. Democracy and national dignity are under attack.
Monuments have no voice. They have us.
We, the 950 Greek archaeologists and 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 overstaffed, nor are we being overpaid. We serve in order to protect our cultural heritage and monuments, all over Greece, in the face of constant lack of funding and personnel, but 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 to bring 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 bequeathed 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 to citizens all over Europe and the whole world to express their solidarity and support for the Greek people and to help defend cultural heritage and historical memory. The peoples of Europe share the same destiny. The same austerity packages and authoritarian measures 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 means EUROPE without future.
- For more info and coverage of our activities visit www.sea.org.gr
- Express your support at the ‘I support Greek Cultural Heritage’ in Facebook
- Post our posters and messages to your websites and workplaces
- Send protest letters to the Greek Minister of Culture and the Greek Prime Minister (fax: 0030 210 9098603)
According to the Greek Constitution, Cultural Heritage belongs to the Greek people and its protection is a responsibility of the state. The Archaeological 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.
- 210 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, 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 7,000 employees of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which include 950 archaeologists, many other civil servants, and 2,000 guards and night-guards. Moreover, each year, 3,500 extra employees are hired on short-term contracts.
In November 2011, 10% of the total workforce of the Ministry of Culture, representing the most experienced employees (those 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 have, for many decades, been working with inadequate 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 was €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 involves planned personnel cuts of 30-50% at the Ministry of Culture. Damage is going to be irreparable. We must stop them!
For information contact:
- There will be Three meetings with Greek archaeologists and union activists Despina Koutsomba and Fotios Georgiadis in Bristol, London and Newcastle.