Which is the basic legal framework for the protection of cultural heritage?1
In order for the legal framework regulating the protection of cultural heritage to be more easily perceived, it is, initially, essential to state that, due to the particularity of her historical background, Greece’s cultural heritage is of great importance. Perhaps, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to claim that Greece constitutes, almost entirely, an extensive and complex archaeological site. Indeed, both in the hinterland and most of the islands, there are many important archaeological sites with monuments relating to the era of ancient Greece, and, subsequently, the Roman times. Many of these monuments are protected via their inclusion in archaeological sites, while for others, perhaps most of them, the archaeological excavations have not progressed yet.
For the reason mentioned above, the legal framework for the protection of cultural heritage is particularly rigorous. The most important provisions in this form are, certainly, those contained in the article 24 paragraph 6 of the Constitution, whereby: «Monuments and historic areas and elements shall be under the protection of the State». This provision is specified by the law 3028/2002 which currently constitutes the backbone of the relevant legislation. Moreover, it is worth noting that the existing legal framework is supplemented by the international conventions relating to specific aspects of the protection of cultural heritage and ratified by Greece. Indicatively, we refer to the definitions of the International Convention of Granada in 1985 for the protection of architectural heritage in Europe, signed in the framework of the Council of Europe and, subsequently, ratified by the Greek Parliament with the law 2039/19922, the (revised) European Convention of Valletta of the 16th of January in 1992 on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, which was also signed within the framework of the Council of Europe and was, later, ratified by the Greek Parliament (law 3378/2005), the Convention of Paris of the 6th of May in 1969 on the protection of the archaeological heritage, also concluded in the framework of the Council of Europe and ratified with the law 1127/1981 as well as the International Convention of Paris of the 23rd of November in 1972 on the protection of the international cultural and natural heritage ratified with the law 1126/1981. It is noted that the above rules of the international law are of existing legal binding force, applying, therefore, in the national legal system on a superior-effect basis, compared to the common law, provided, of course, that they include provisions characterized as self-executing3.