Egypt calls on amending law to criminalize antiquity trade in EU states
Badr Abdel Atty - YOUM7/Sami Waheeb

CAIRO: Representatives from 17 nations met in the Egyptian embassy in Berlin Friday to discuss ways to curb the devastation of archaeological sites, illicit excavations and the traffic in cultural goods in areas suffering damage during armed conflicts, Youm7 reported.

The attendees focused on amending a legislation in Germany that criminalizes illicit trade in artifacts and trafficking in artifacts in Germany and across Europe.

Egypt’s ambassador to Germany, Badr Abdel Aaty pointed out that the issuance of such law would “contribute to the confrontation of terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State group, that make money from the illicit trafficking of artifacts stolen from Syria and Iraq.”

The draft law on the protection of cultural property has been submitted to the German Bundestag for consideration, said Abdel Aaty.

The German Bundestag called for the rapid adoption of the new law in order to counter the phenomenon in the EU states.

Ambassador James Moran, head of the European Union delegation in Cairo said in March that the EU is ready to grant Egypt € 7.5million ($ 8.3 million) in aid to the projects of preserving Egyptian cultural heritage.

The systematic theft of art and antiquities by organized crime has increased at Egyptian archaeological sites in the past three years, with devastating consequences for the country’s priceless cultural heritage, Deborah Lehr, founder of the International Coalition for the Protection of Egyptian Antiquities said during a news conference held in Cairo in May 2015.

Germany’s Freiburg Court has issued a ruling acknowledging Egypt’s liability in repatriating an ancient vase dates back to Egypt’s pre-dynastic period, the Antiquities Ministry announced in a statement in February.

During the past four years, Egypt has recovered more than 1,600 artifacts and is currently working on other cases in many European countries, former head of the Repatriated Artifacts Department Aly Ahmed told The Cairo Post last year.

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