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10 November, 1998
Alert Australian police are responsible for the expected return of four priceless 5th century BC artifacts, smuggled into Australia but detected and confiscated by authorities.
The four items - two small amphorae and two plates - were handed over by Victorian State Premier Jeff Kennett to Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who was in Melbourne for the opening of the Greek Archaeological Museum over the weekend.
Mr. Kennett pledged that Australian authorities would continue to return to Greece any ancient item found to have been acquired illegally. He also renewed his support for Greece's campaign to retrieve the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.
"The message from Melbourne today is that cultural items must return to where they belong," Mr. Venizelos said.
Greece has sent the Aidonia treasures - 308 artifacts stolen from the Aidonia region near Corinth by antiquity smugglers in the 1970s and later retrieved by the Greek state - to be the inaugural exhibition at the new museum. It is the first time the treasure has left Greece since it was returned following an out-of-court settlement with the Greek state. The collection was destined for the auctioneer's hammer in 1993 when Greece filed suit for its return.
Mr. Venizelos will receive an honorary doctorate from Victoria's La Trobe University today, before traveling to Canberra for a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.
Source: Athens News Agency