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October 19, 2011

Greek history held hostage to the present

Interesting article at Ekathimerini about how the political battles of Greece obscures and defeats efforts to manage Athens. In particular the challange of showcasing the Greek cultural heritage that has no value within government offices unless attached to contemporary political goals:

"Private efforts to vitalize Greece’s cultural sector are mostly met with political vitriol, says Paul Firos, the 64-year- old founder of Hotel Data Systems Inc. Shortly before the 2004 Olympics, the Greek-American businessman and philanthropist sold his Connecticut-based reservation software system and used 2 million euros of the profit to open the Herakleidon Art and Mathematics Museum on a leafy street beneath the Acropolis.

The government still refuses to allow him to put up a street sign that could lead people to the museum, says Firos.

Even the critically acclaimed New Acropolis Museum, which opened in 2009, after 33 years of ideological bickering, lingers as a target. Greek Communist Party Secretary General Aleka Papariga and the Greek Archaeologists Society have issued statements that condemn the 130 million euro facility co-funded by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund as “unacceptable” and “in danger from the most extreme privatization.”

“Neither political party has the will or expertise to manage culture,” he says. “Government culture experts live in a bunker and view any outside help to manage our treasures and make them profitable as a threat to their livelihoods.”

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