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Petition of the Citizens’ Movement for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage
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The antiquities at Venizelou Station
TEXT OF PETITION
On 7 September 2019, during the opening of the Thessaloniki International Fair, the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced that the most important group of monuments to be discovered in Thessaloniki during works for the construction of the Subway in 2012, more specifically at Venizelou Station, will be removed from its position.
This announcement goes against the opinion of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) and the subsequent Ministerial Decision of 2017 that the monument should be preserved in situ, and will lead to its certain obliteration. This announcement was made without any government official having gone to the station to inspect the progress of the works or to request further information from the archaeologists or from Attiko Metro.
At the same time, it is causing unnecessary delay to the normal progress of the project (which has already slipped 7 years from the original schedule), a huge rise in the time and cost required to complete it, and the annulment of the studies and work that have been carried out over the past two years, which led towards the decision that the group of monuments should be kept in situ. Moreover, it requires drawing up new studies and conducting new excavations, with unknown financial costs, as well as paying damages to the contractor for the cancellation of the previous plan.
The antiquities of Venizelou Station, covering an area of 1500 square metres, are unique, since they help us understand the urban fabric of the Byzantine city, showcase the town planning of Thessaloniki and constitute the most easily comprehensible and intact section of the historic centre that has survived until today. This archaeological testimony should continue to exist as a whole, be open to visitors, teach and be intact.
We call upon the Greek and international community:
• to support the effort to save and display in situ the antiquities of Venizelou Station, by putting the approved decisions and studies into practice,
• to support the harmonious co-existence of the antiquities and the Subway, and
• to send a message to the political leaders in favour of the showcasing of our past through the future. We must stop the greatest attempted crime against the city in recent decades from being accomplished.
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