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FENAP Expresses concern to US State Department

The Federation of European Numismatic Trade Associations has expressed great concern to the U.S. Secretary of State over Cypriot import restrictions.

July 30, 2007

Der Präsident: Dr. Hubert Lanz
Maximiliansplatz 10
80333 München, Deutschland
Tel: +49/89/299070, Fax: +49/89/220762
DrLanz@Lanz.com - www.FENAP.com

Dr. Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
USA

July 25, 2007

Dear Dr. Rice,

The European numismatic community of collectors, dealers and auction houses in coins has noted with great concern the announcement, on the US State Department website, that the renewed MOU between the US and the government of Cyprus now also includes coins of Cypriot types.

Cyprus is a member state of the European Union, and is therefore subject to European Union legislation. There are three EU legal instruments which regulate the trade in cultural objects:

  1. The treaty of Nice establishing the European community, which states in Chapter 2, Prohibition of quantitative restrictions between member states, Article 30:
    “…;the protection of national treasures possessing artistic, historic or archaeological value; or the protection of industrial and commercial property. Such prohibitions or restrictions shall not, however, constitute a means of arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade between Member States.“
  2. The EU directive on the return of cultural objects (council directive 93/7/EEC) and
  3. The Council Regulation (EEC) No 3911/92 of 9 December 1992 on the export of cultural goods, which includes the following statement, also applying to the member state Cyprus:
    “However, without prejudice to paragraph 4, the Member State which is competent in accordance with the two indents in the first subparagraph may not require export licences for the cultural goods specified in the first and second indents of category A1 of the Annex where they are of limited archaeological or scientific interest, and provided that they are not the direct product of excavations, finds and archaeological sites within a Member State, and that their presence on the market is lawful.”

Both, the directive (2) and the regulation (3) have an identical ANNEX of categories of cultural objects, and under 12 (b) collections of numismatic interest.

Single collectible items of numismatic value may be freely traded within the EU and exported outside the EU. When archaeological objects are not of significant importance for the cultural identity of a member state, no member state (including Cyprus) is allowed to require an export licence.

We are well aware that some member states claim that all cultural objects are national treasures vital to their national and cultural identity (even if they are privately owned for generations), but in so doing they clearly exceed their legitimate protective rights.

Unfortunately, no case has yet been submitted to the European (Union) Court of Justice to determine what makes a cultural object a national treasure. The reason is the high cost of prosecuting such a court case, and in the present context especially the consideration that coins (of which millions exist in the market) have never been considered national treasures by any EU member state whose understanding of personal freedom and civil rights is similar to that of the United States of America.

We request that you reverse the decision under the renewed MOU with Cyprus to include coins, and you inform the government of Cyprus that the US is aware of the EU council regulation prohibiting such a bilateral restriction of imports. Of the millions of ancient coins traded currently and during the last hundreds of years on the international market, very many which are not of Cypriot origin appear quite similar to the Cypriot types. On the other hand coins of Cypriot type have been circulating throughout Europe in ancient times and can be found anywhere in Europe. As a practical matter it will certainly impossible to prove that all these coins are not of Cypriot origin, when they arrive at the borders of the United States of America.

Yours sincerely

Dr. Hubert Lanz
President of FENAP

Tags:
state department
cyprus
fenap
eu

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