Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ address at the 4th Pan-Hellenic Conference on Digital Cultural Heritage (30.09.2021)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The protection and promotion of our cultural heritage is of significant importance for our country.

This Heritage is to be found not only within our borders, but also outside. The monuments of Greek culture are scattered across various countries; in the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, but also in the depths of Asia.

Whether we are talking about Ancient Greek, Byzantine, or modern monuments, it is the obligation of all states in which they are located to respect and promote them.

Unfortunately, this heritage is under constant threat.

It is endangered by extremist elements, such as the Taliban, who have not hesitated in the past to destroy world cultural heritage monuments.

And, of course, by countries such as Turkey, which, in breach of fundamental UNESCO rules, has converted monuments such as Hagia Sophia and the Monastery of Chora into mosques.

Our goal today is to make every effort possible for the protection of this cultural heritage.

In this context, we have taken action on various International Organizations, starting from UNESCO.

At the same time, we raise this issue at both bilateral and multilateral levels. The issue of Hagia Sophia and the Monastery of Chora is on the agenda of all our contacts.

In parallel with these actions, which continue unabated, we have the obligation to showcase our cultural heritage by promoting it to as large an audience as possible.

In this context, digital technology is a vehicle for this effort.

Through digitization, cultural heritage is transformed into a lasting asset, accessible to every corner of the world. Digitization is also a valuable tool for enhancing historical knowledge, as well as science.

For these reasons, UNESCO has issued guidelines for the application of principles and rules in the digital environment.

It has placed special emphasis on respect for the intellectual property of cultural goods and services.

It has also underlined the promotion of culture as a pillar for sustainable development.

It is, therefore, necessary for, and at the same time beneficial to Greece to fully and dynamically enter the era of “digital culture”.

Responding to the new reality, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs demonstrated from the very beginning its readiness to take advantage of the possibilities created by the new means of digitization.

Especially during the difficult times of the pandemic, technology became a tool in order to maintain active the interest of the international public opinion for Greek culture, for example, by organizing numerous online events.

This effort must continue unabated, in every direction.

For this reason, I welcome the organization of the 4th Pan-Hellenic Conference on Digital Cultural Heritage.

I am certain that the exchange of views and the promotion of actions will contribute to making Greece a reference point in this field.

Thank you.