Greece’s New Culture Minister Plans Archaeological Sites Updates

Νew Culture Minister Lina Mendoni. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Mihalis Karagiannis)

ATHENS – Greece’s new Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said she was immediately moving to improve archaeological sites and monuments in Greece’s capital and other regions where they are a major draw for tourists.

With extensive experience in the field, Mendoni, an acclaimed archaeologist who had lead the powerful Central Archaeological Committee (ΚΑS,) has worked on dozens of excavations including the Amphipolis site, previously served as Culture Ministry Secretary General, and supervised Olympic works, said GTP News.

During the ministry’s handover ceremony – a tense meeting with her predecessor from the Radical Left SYRIZA, Myrsini Zorba – Mendoni said there would be a “regeneration” of the center of Athens through the “rebirth” of the National Archaeological Museum.

Mendoni said that the ministry will aim for the sustainable development of destinations, such as Knossos, Rhodes, Messinia, Delos and Amphipolis, home to significant monuments, through culture.

Zorba she was handing over the ministry “free of burdens… that had accumulated in the past from uncompleted projects, unclear procedures, a lack of a regulatory framework and punishable offenses,” taking a parting shot on her way out after she had been criticized for her tenure.

Paying no mind to that, Mendoni said she would concentrate on improving the sites where there had also been occasional strikes over working conditions and austerity measures and as the famed Acropolis has frequently barred visitors for various reasons, even during the busy summer months, most recently because of high temperatures.

“We already have an order from the prime minister to contribute to a revamp of the center of Athens and of the National Archaeological Museum,” Mendoni said.

The sites set for improvements include Akadimia Platonos, the site of Plato’s Academy in Kolonos, the archaeological site of Messene, the ancient theater of Dodoni, the archaeological site of Delos and the Amphipolis Tomb, a massive burial mound complex dating to the era of Alexander the Great, a project abandoned under SYRIZA.

Mendoni pledged that the new administration would maintain whatever progress has been achieved over the past four years. “Whatever good has been done will be kept,” she said, acting graciously despite Zorba’s disrespect.

Mendoni, who doesn’t use social media, also the Greek police’s cyber crime unit after she was informed that a fake Twitter account had been created with her name and picture and was running.

The Twitter handle @LinaMendoni, purported to be the minister’s official account and was opened on July 9. One of the two tweets sent from that account quoted her as saying that the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures is “pivotal” for the new government.

That was in reference to SYRIZA having given up a legal battle to get the return from the British Museum of the stolen Parthenon Marbles after Tsipras said they belonged to the world and not Greece.

1 Comment

  1. The new Culture Minister, Lina Mendoni, enjoyed a distinguished career as General Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and is an inspired appointment. At the handover of the Ministry Ms Mendoni rightly pointed out that culture is one of the main pillars of Greek society. Promoting cultural heritage is an important aspect of our culture. The episode of the fake twitter account is regrettable but I am confident that this government will ramp up efforts for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, unlike its predecessor. The former government through its various Culture Ministers (there were 4 in four years) regrettably made conflicting statements that litigation would not be considered and then contradicted themselves by saying that all options were on the table. In the meantime the British cultural establishment has not budged at all and remains as defiant as ever that the Parthenon Sculptures, which currently are currently displayed in the gloomy confines of the British Museum, will never return. The sculptures do have a global cultural heritage significance and for that reason their eventual reunification in Athens is a cultural imperative which we must all embrace.

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