A Significant Omission
The published transcript of the Cyprus MOA signing ceremony
omits several significant words.
Ambassador Kakouris of the
What Kakouris actually said can be heard here:
Here is a transcript of his actual remarks:
"In fact, I was reminded just before we came in by Maria Kouroupas about something that I had said in January when we were before the Committee and dealing with the coin collectors and somebody who was very much on their side, when he talked about the hobby of collecting coins. And I said to him: "It may be your hobby, but it's our heritage!" and that is the way that we look at this issue."
The omissions in the State Department's transcript suggest that the prominence given to inclusion of coins in the MOA extension, in the remarks of both Under Secretary Burns and Ambassador Kakouris, had been stage managed behind the scenes by Kouroupas. Was it later realized that these remarks disclosed information Kouroupas did not want to become publicly known?
This would certainly be consistent with what Steven Vincent reported in his classic 2002 expose, "Stealth Fighter - The Secret War of Maria Kouroupas" :
Vincent observed that " ... to many who purchase, collect and exhibit the art and artifacts of ancient civilizations, Maria Papageorge Kouroupas is the devil incarnate. They believe that from the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Public Affairs, where she is staff director of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), she has pursued a veritable - and intensifying - fatwa against the antiquities trade, accusing it of stimulating the plunder of the world's temples, monuments, burial grounds and other fragile, artifact-rich sites."
"Her critics argue that Kouroupas, supported by archaeologists, journalist allies and government policy, threatens the livelihood of dealers and imperils the ability of museums and private citizens to enrich their collections. She has, they say, successfully hijacked American foreign policy on cultural patrimony, thwarted the will of Congress and violated the spirit, if not the letter, of
"...Secretive, obsessed with controlling information and disdainful of the interests of dealers, she and the State Department committee she heads remain largely unaccountable to the press and general public. Under her stewardship, the committee, charged with determining which cultural objects the government should ban from entering the
"...Quiet and determined, she works in the shadows and is well-versed in the jujitsu of bureaucratic turf-protecting. 'Maria exerts an enormous influence in this complex and little-understood area of State's activities,' says a former colleague. 'But you'd never know it. She's the ultimate bureaucrat. She never leaves fingerprints.' "