The Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled Friday that a collection of archaeological treasures loaned by Crimea to a museum in Amsterdam, shortly before Moscow's annexation of the peninsula, should be handed over to Ukraine. This is the latest Dutch legal ruling on these priceless "Scythian gold" coins, after a legal tug-of-war that lasted nearly a decade.
Ukraine and four museums on the occupied peninsula had called for the return of the pieces loaned for the exhibition Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea. But the Archaeological Museum at the University of Amsterdam Allard-Pierson said it would not do so until a judge decided to which party the pieces should be returned.
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Nine years of proceedings
The Allard Pierson Museum must hand over the art treasures to the Ukrainian state and not to the museums of Crimea," the Dutch Supreme Court said. The decision also upheld lower Dutch court rulings that the treasures should be returned to Kiev – not museums – for protection, "pending stabilisation in Crimea." "With this decision, the Supreme Court has put an end to the dispute," the Hague-based court said in a statement. The Supreme Court judges stressed that Ukraine has "a legitimate interest in protecting its cultural heritage".
The judges added that the provision "pending stabilisation in Crimea" maintained "a fair balance between the violation of the right of Crimean museums to recover treasures and Kiev's right to protect its cultural heritage". Previous court rulings, issued before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, were welcomed by Kiev. Moscow reacted furiously, deeming them politically motivated.
Allard Pierson told Dutch news agency ANP that he did not yet know when the treasures would be returned to Ukraine. "This will be decided in cooperation with Ukraine," an official said.