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Greek Culture Ministry Evicts Archeologists’ Association From its HQ

The Greek Culture Ministry has announced the eviction of the Association of Greek Archaeologists, SEA, from the building in which it has been housed since 1982, for reasons of violation and public interest. The property on Ermou Street, Athens, must be vacated by October 10. It is the property of the state.

The SEA, in a press release, accused the ministry of attempting “to censor the trade union and scientific body of archaeologists at the Archaeological Service, telling it which actions are ‘compatible’ with the government’s political agenda and which are not’”.

The reason for the eviction was the organisation of an event at SEA’s premises about the Pylos shipwreck on June 14, which claimed the lives of 78 people and caused much controversy in Greece.

An op-ed on the event by media outlet Nea prompted the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni, to send a letter to the SEA, which pointed out that there was no prior permission from the ministry for this event.

The ministry stated that, without its permission, the SEA had granted the space to third parties, violating the terms of the arrangement. It noted that the event had nothing to do with archaeology, arts and sciences.

The ministry also mentioned the obligation of the participants to pay fees to the Organization for the Management and Development of Cultural Resources.

It also noted that SEA is not considered a trade union but an association of persons, and that the ministry is not obliged to offer the building to the SEA, but is at its “discretion”.

The SEA argues that it has the right to sublet the space to third parties for social activities. In recent years, the premises have hosted various events, such as musical events, photography exhibitions, charity bazaars and film screenings.

Regarding a financial contribution, the SEA stated that “the allusion to the Association’s ‘financial consideration’ is at least unfounded, but also potentially defamatory. There was no financial compensation from the event entitled ‘Justice in the Crime of Pylos’”.

Another part of the ministry’s decision states that if the association wants to use another state property, it should submit a request by September 15, explaining “the type and scope of use it wishes”.

The SEA has been in regular conflict with the Ministry of Culture, having highlighted issues such as the hotly disputed agreement about the STERN collection, as well as the issue of illegal licensing in archaeological sites on the island of Mykonos.

Source: Balkan Insight