September 22, 2021
Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens
Thank you very much Minister Mendoni for those generous and genuinely warm remarks. Distinguished guests and colleagues, I am so very pleased that we have completed the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding for the protection of cultural heritage between the United States and Greece.
Minister Mendoni, I am especially happy to sign this renewal with you, as you were also our counterpart when the Greek Government and the U.S. government first entered into this agreement ten years ago, in July 2011. And I cannot think of a better setting for us to meet and to sign this document today than the Byzantine Museum – truly one of the premier cultural treasures of Greece.
With the renewal of our agreement, the United States reaffirms our commitment to the protection of Greece’s fabulously rich cultural heritage. Reflecting the great value and the importance of Greece’s history to all of humanity, this renewal also expands the scope of our earlier agreement, to include precious artifacts and ecclesiastical ethnological treasures up through 1830, shortly after Greece bravely won its independence.
The timing of this expansion and renewal of the agreement could not be more fitting, as Greece celebrates 200 years of independence, and our countries jointly celebrate two hundred years of friendship and alliance.
As you said Minister, our countries’ relationship today is stronger than it has ever been across all the fields of our shared endeavors. By renewing this agreement, which is an important component of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue that Foreign Minister Dendias and Secretary of State Blinken will host in October, we will continue to ensure the protection of Greece’s world-renowned cultural heritage.
The United States is firmly committed to the protection of these treasures from looting and trafficking. Fostering collaboration and exchanges between our cultural institutions and professionals is the heart of the work we do – throughout the U.S. Mission to Greece and in Washington.
As we sign this renewal, we affirm our renewed commitment, and I know we have a great deal to be proud of, and very much to look forward to. So I want to thank you once gain for your personal leadership in this effort, and I want to assure you that the United States will continue proudly to stand by the side of the Hellenic Republic.