With an exchange of diplomatic notes on November 21, 2011, the agreement to protect Greece’s cultural heritage, which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and then Minister of Foreign Affairs Stavros Lambrinidis signed on July 17, 2011, entered into force.
The agreement, Memorandum Of Understanding Between The Government Of The United States Of America And The Government Of The Hellenic Republic Concerning The Imposition Of Import Restrictions On Certain Categories Of Greek Archaeological And Byzantine Ecclesiastical Ethnological Material Through The 15th Century A.D. Of The Hellenic Republic, will strengthen and enhance collaboration to reduce looting and trafficking of antiquities, and provide for their return to Greece. It also aims to further the international interchange of such materials for cultural, educational, and scientific purposes. The agreement builds on the United States’ long-term commitment to cultural preservation and is consistent with a recommendation of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of the Treasury jointly published on December 1, 2011 in the Federal Register a Designated List of restricted archaeological material representing the Upper Paleolithic Period (beginning approximately 20,000 B.C.) through the 15th century A.D.
This cooperation between the United States and Greece is possible within the framework of the 1970 UNESCO Convention to reduce the pillage of cultural heritage sites. Through special enabling legislation, the U.S. Department of State implements the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.