Crimea Scythian gold collection stuck in Amsterdam

Anna van Densky  The ambivalent situation around the collection of Scythian gold exhibited in Amsterdam occurred after the Crimean referendum (March 16, 2014), leading to the unification with the Russian Federation, assessed by the EU as “annexation“. Both museums of the Republic of Crimea and Ukrainian state claimed their rights for the treasures of art. In response the Amsterdam Museum have  frozen the transfer of property until the dispute is settled on a legal basis or until the parties reach a peace agreement.

Crimean museums insist that they had received most artifacts from the disputed Scythian gold collection before Ukraine declared independence, Director of the Central Museum of Tavrida Andrei Malgin, said to TASS Russian news Agency.  According to international rules, Dutch museum, where the collection was exposed, should return them to the parties that provided the treasures for an exhibition, he added.

Our main argument is that these items were excavated in Crimea and were kept in Crimean museums, so Crimea has stronger ownership rights. We insist that this is part of the Crimean people’s cultural heritage. Crimean museums have owned a large number of the items since the Soviet era or even since pre-Revolution times (1917),” Malgin underlined.

Crimean museums have documents proving that they owned these treasures long before Ukraine became independent, he explained.

Malgin reminded that that a whole exhibited collection of various items from different museums had been sent to the Netherlands to be displayed in an art event. At the time of the exhibition, the items formally belonged to Ukraine’s Museum Collections on display in Crimean museums. Even after world wars, many treasures returned to the museums from which they had been pillaged, Malgin reminded  .

The Amsterdam Court of Appeal postponed a verdict in the Scythian gold case, requesting the parties to provide further information, particularly on the ownership rights. According to the judges, the parties have been given two months to provide the requested information. “A final judgment may be expected in six to nine months’ time,” the Court pointed out. Until then, the Scythian gold collection will be kept at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam.

The Republic of Crimea historians, and art historians have certain fears the decision of the Court will be entirely politicized is spite of their rights to keep heritage in the Republic of Crimea, where it belongs.

The Scythian gold is a collection of  more than two thousand artifacts with an insurance estimated value of about $2 million, which were included into the exhibition Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea”, held from February to August 2014 at the Allard Pearson Museum Amsterdam.

Next year Crimea commemorates hundred years of  Russian State” on its territory, the stronghold  of the monarchists,  losing the Civil war to Bolsheviks, after the collapse of the Russian Empire. Tragically the White Army soldiers in Crimea were tricked by the promises of amnesty if they surrendered, the estimated number of following Red Terror executions vary  from 50,000 to 120,000 people.

А total of 145,693 White guards and civilians were saved in evacuation by sea (pictured below) by the end of 1920, however they did not take with them any artifacts from museums and palaces of Crimea, departing with a hope to return.

Крым эвакуация

Boris Johnson as EU antidote

Anna van Densky OPINION Newly elected by the Conservatives Prime minister Boris Johnson throws a glove in the face of “the doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters“, vowing to lead the country to the decisive Brexit on October 31. However, for fair play, he should have thanked them for their huge contribution in his swift ascendance to power, because they have created the situation of a protracted political crisis blocking the way to the implementation of the decision of the referendum.

Even more so Boris Johnson had to thank the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who dabbed Theresa May requests  as “nebulous“. Many thanks to the European Council for the rejection of re-editing the Withdrawal Agreement, and personally to Michel Barnier, who stood like a rock defending the each letter of the text. All of them were indispensable for Theresa May downfall.  From now onward the “moderate”, “orderlyBrexit scenario is off the shelf.

The EU has the entire record of the successfully corrected “errors” like reshaping the European Constitution into the Lisbon Treaty, and subsequent imposition of the second referendum on the Republic of Ireland, generously offering an opportunity to the citizens to chose the “right side of history“. However in this particular Brexit case the application of pressure caused the results opposite to expected: Boris Johnson came as Brussels antidote, promising to his compatriots to resolve the problem with slicing the Gordian knot. Who can do it better than a professional in Classics? 🙂

Alexander The Great

 

Ursula von der Leyen -Spitzenkandidate proxy

Anna van Densky OPINION Nine votes narrow victory of Ursula von der Leyen (60) reveals the fragility of the EU institutions, plagued by political fragmentation, and rise of Euroscepticism, the latter not without reason. The democratic deficit is becoming obvious, especially in crucial moments of appointing the EU top jobs candidates. The obscure procedure of election of the European Commission president, who is de facto ‘Prime Minister of Europe‘, does not inspire confidence neither of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), no of their electorate. The former Europarl speaker compared it to the election of the Pope: the cardinals plotting behind closed doors, while congregation is awaiting for white smoke from the chimney.

After Manfred Weber (47) Spitzenkandidate (leading candidate) from the European People’s Party was rejected by East European member-states, the candidacy of von der Leyen emerged in contingency plan during crisis Summit of the EU leaders. Hardly known outside Germany, overnight she became the most powerful EU executive, the guardian of the EU Treaties, and the monopolist of the legislative initiative.

Among 733 votes cast (one void) 383 members voted in favor, 327 against, and 22 abstained, – with the slim majority of nine votes, von der Leyen became a sensation: first European Commission female president (born in Brussels, in family of a European Commission civil servant).

In spite an attractiveness of the perspective to appoint a woman, confirming European alignment with the gender equality principles,  the entire election process was on the brink, attacked by many MEPs for its Machiavellian engineering far from public eyes. It is obvious that the next time it might not pass, throwing the EU institutions in a protracted crisis.

Even von der Leyen –  the “jackpot winner” considered necessary ‘to respond to  the need for transparent  Spitzenkandidaten (leading candidate) system to be strengthened and the transnational lists to be reconsidered in future European elections.

With 383 votes in favour, the European Parliament elected Ursula von der Leyen President of the next European Commission in a secret paper ballot. Officially, she will enter office on 1 November 2019 for a five-year term.

Parliament currently comprises 747 MEPs as per the official notifications received by member state authorities, so the threshold needed to be elected was 374 votes, i.e. more than 50% of its component members. President Sassoli formally announced the requisite number before the results were revealed in plenary. The vote was held by secret paper ballot.

Vote ink finger

 

 

Europarl: Ann Widdecombe furore

Anna van Densky OPINION The passionate speech of British MEP Ann Widdecombe had a highly unpleasant  novelty for the European Union: the doyen of Brexit party political group associated the protracted process of exiting from the EU with national liberation movement. She openly threw into face of Guy Verhofstad – the European Parliament representative for Brexit talks – the accusation of treating the UK as “colony“.

Guy Verhofstadt answered in via his Twitter micro blog, regarding Widdecombe as a “clown”. It means he failed again to understand souverainist’s influence on public opinion, and the interaction between Brexit party (former UKIP) and larger groups of electorate, initially perceived as “marginal“, but in reality numerous enough to impose Brexit referendum, and win its outcome. Verhofstadt did not answer to in a meaningful way to Widdecombe criticism of democratic deficit in EU procedures either. He also didn’t answer to her criticism of protracted withdrawal process, comparing Brussels to metropole, reluctant to give away rip on its rich colony.  However the strategy of brushing off criticism of Brexiteers is in essence myopic because it allows their vision to hover high, and spread around engaging new groups, and not only from UK electorate, but the other old EU member states.

The feeble attempt of BBC journalist to argue Ms.Widdecombe’s point of  view through pointing at her high MEP salary incomparable with “slave” status looked like faux pas.

BBC did not manage to address the issue, and attempt, dabbed by the MEP as “silly”, just re-enforcing her speech, demonstrating absence of meaningful counter-argument.