Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Stavros Lambrinidis signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Hellenic Republic to reduce the incentive for further pillage of Greece's cultural heritage. The Secretary and Foreign Minister signed the MOU at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, on July 17, 2011.
Secretary Clinton said, "It is a great honor for me to be representing the United States, a friend, ally, and partner to Greece, and also to be exemplifying the very warm relations between the American and Greek people.
"Millions of visitors have already had the experience of walking through this magnificent museum here in the shadow of the Acropolis and experiencing firsthand the extraordinary gifts that Greece has given over its long history to Western civilization in which my country as well is in your debt.
"This agreement that we are signing today will protect Greece's culturally significant objects even further from looting and sale on the international market. It will be illegal to import protected items from Greece into the United States unless they have been certified by the Greek authorities. And that will help reduce the incentive to illegally remove such objects in the first place.
"We know from experience that measures like this work. This will be our 15th cultural property agreement. And in countries from Cambodia to Cyprus, we have seen real results. These agreements build on America's long-term commitment to cultural preservation. Forty years ago, the United States was the first nation in the world to ratify the World Heritage Convention, and it remains a priority for our government and for me personally.
"Let me just conclude by saying that America is just as committed to Greece's future as we are to preserving your past. During these difficult economic times, we will stand with you. We are confident that the nation that built the Parthenon, invented democracy, and inspired the world can rise to the current challenge."
You can read a transcript of Secretary's remarks here.