Egypt to host conference on the return of antiquities
CAIRO — Egypt will host a conference in April for countries demanding the return of their antiquities, stolen but on display in museums round the world, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said Wednesday. The conference will “discuss the question of returning stolen antiquities,” the council said in a statement. It gave no dates for the three-day conference.
Thirty countries, including Greece, Mexico, Peru, Afghanistan, Iraq, Cambodia and China, will participate in the Cairo gathering, said Egypt’s antiquities director Zahi Hawass, who has made the return of looted Egyptian artefacts the hallmark of his tenure.
“Officials from these countries will discuss taking action internationally to support efforts to return stolen antiquities to their countries of origin… and exhibited in certain museums and showrooms around the world,” Hawass said. The conference aims to work out “specific recommendations” and draw up a list of the antiquities claimed by each participating country.
It will also review international laws on the subject, for their “reconsideration” and “to protect the rights of the countries to recover their cultural and archaeological property,” Hawass added with elaborating.
Egypt is demanding, so far without success, the return of famous antiquities such as the Rosetta stone, held by the British Museum for more than 200 years, and the 3,400 year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti, a major Pharaonic artefact located at the Neues Museum in Berlin, which it says was taken out of the country illegally.
But it recently succeeded in getting back from the Louvre five fragments of mural paintings that are more than 3,000 years old after suspending cooperation with the French museum for not returning them.