Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Knee-jerk in slow motion: The ACCG and Christopher Metsos

I wondered how long this would take coming, the coineys are so predictable, but this one took a few days to get through the fog in the synapses caused by too much contact with dug-ups, from the former president of the ACCG Washington lawyer Peter Tompa: 'So Much for Cooperation: Greek Cypriots Let Suspected Russian Spy Escape'.

1) Of course reading the somewhat unbalanced treatment given in the Washington Post article cited there, it apparently never occurs to somebody whether the illegal export of antiquities from the island might not all be in the hands of local organized criminal gangs... Who are these "Russians" who have the Mediterranean villas and offshore banking accounts on the island? Does not the extremely lucrative no-questions-asked international antiquities market hold any temptations for any of them?

One wonders why a US group would be wanting to fight the regulation of the illegal market, with whom would that be collaborating? What business links do ACCG members have in Cyprus? In Communist China, in Bulgaria and Italy? Indeed, what are the business and political links of the many eastern Europeans currently involved both as dealers and middlemen (suppliers) in the US and UK and other countries in Europe selling dugups and fakes indiscriminately? Into whose pockets is the money from the n0-questions-asked antiquities trade going (and if no questions are asked, how can anyone tell)?

2) odd, isn't it ? The US "collectors' rights" lobby loudly protests its "innocence" (of complicity in crimes against cultural property) because it is not actually illegal to buy in the US coins that have been illegally exported from another country since no US laws have been broken". This is their constitutional right they say. This is not even against their so-called "code of ethics". But one of their member thinks an accused man should be locked up in a foreign country on some vague allegations that he might somehow have been involved with people who it is alleged may have broken the law in the US. Surely by the ACCG line of reasoning, there should first be a demonstration that a Cypriot law was broken by this man. I think it has long been clear that there is a signal lack of logic and coherence in the arguments of the no-questions-asked collecting lobby, this is a case in point.

3) How astounding, the US government attempts to STOP American dealers buying illegally exported coins (coins that no ethical or moral businessmen would want to sell anyway) and then its citizens like Mr Tompa apparently expect the foreign country they come from to fall at its feet in gratitude and do anything the US demand of it. ["Jail this man!!" "yes, Uncle Sam, Sir! Can I lick your boots too?"]. Cyprus is a sovereign state, not a US satellite, and has its own laws which are not written in Washington. Its judicial procedure and exercise of human rights cannot be bought with the promise to stop US businesses trading in illegally exported dugup ancient coins which the rest of the civilised world thinks they should not be selling anyway. Especially when a whole group of them say they are not going to stop anyway and are even publicising the fact that they have already illegally imported a batch of them to "challenge" the US government because they want the law overturned. That is hardly likely to make Cyprus think that the "gift" offered by the US was offered with any sincerity or hope of success.

Really, the narrow-minded arrogance of these people !!

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