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A Significant Omission

Peter K. Tompa comments on U.S. State Department alteration of official comments at the signing of the MOU with Cyprus adding coins to the restricted cultural property list.

By Peter K. Tompa |
August 28, 2007

The published transcript of the Cyprus MOU signing ceremony

http://www.state.gov/p/us/rm/2007/89515.htm


or video at
omits several significant words.

Ambassador Kakouris of the Republic of Cyprus is reported in that transcript as saying,

"In fact, I was reminded just before we came in about something that I had said in January when we were before the Committee and responding to someone very much on the side of the coin collectors who -- talked about the hobby of collecting coins. And I said to him: "It may be your hobby, but it's our heritage!" and that is the way that we look at this issue.’"

What Kakouris actually said can be heard here (at 10:09 of the audio):

http://video.state.gov/?fr_story=bf3f54f8962f3cce621ac7cd7f6015508a1630a 8

Here is a transcript of his actual remarks:
"In fact, I was reminded by Maria Kouroupas just before we came in about something that I had said in January when we were before the Committee and dealing with the coin collectors and somebody who was very much on their side, when he talked about the hobby of collecting coins. And I said to him: ‘It may be your hobby, but it's our heritage!" and that is the way that we look at this issue.’"
The omissions in the State Department's transcript suggest that the prominence given to inclusion of coins in the MOU extension, in the remarks of both Under Secretary Burns and Ambassador Kakouris, had been stage managed behind the scenes by Maria Kouroupas, the head of the State Department's Cultural Heritage Center. Was it later realized that these remarks disclosed information Kouroupas did not want to become publicly known?

This would certainly be consistent with what the late Steven Vincent reported in his 2002 expose, "Stealth Fighter - The Secret War of Maria Kouroupas."

Congress has charged the State Department with balancing the legitimate interests of American collectors, dealers, and museums against those of the archaeological community and source countries through the CPAC process. Instead, here, the words of Undersecretary Burns suggest that even the hint of a diplomatic quid pro quo is sufficient to trump this statutory mandate in favor of unabashed support for the jingoism of the Greek Cypriot Government and the "context over all" wing of the archaeological establishment. That there was some attempt to hide the "stage management" of this event only raises further questions about the correctness of such a course.

Tags:
state department
cyprus
cpac
mou
peter k. tompa

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