AFGHANISTAN: Greece concerned for safety of cultural treasures in Kabul museum


Greece has expressed its concern for the safety of the thousand of cultural artefacts housed in the Museum of Kabul, noting the history of the Taliban of destroying such items like when they blew up the two monumental Buddha statues in Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley in March of 2001.

"Nobody can now guarantee the safety of either the thousands of objects at the Museum of Kabul or the treasure of Bactria brought to light by Greek archaeologist Victor Sarigiannidis," former culture minister for Afghanistan Sultan Omar said on Monday, after meeting with Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni.

According to a ministry statement, Omar, also an archaeologist and someone who has known the Greek Minister for Culture for a long time, expressed his grief and deep concern over the situation in Afghanistan.

Sultan Omar also expressed his appreciation to Mendoni for Greece's and the ministry's contribution in reconstructing the Archaeological Museum of Kabul. Greece contributed 750,000 euros to restore the building, while archaeologists associated with the ministry had travelled to Kabul in 2002 and contributed to the conservation and exhibition of its valuable artifacts.

The thousands of findings from Bactria, an ancient region in Central Asia that partly lies in present-day Afghanistan, have travelled to several countries and been shown at some of the largest museums in the world. The fact they are registered means it will be very difficult to sell illegally, but there are fears are they will be destroyed nevertheless.

Mendoni told her former colleague that the ministry is taking steps with UNESCO and the European Union about Afghanistan's cultural heritage.