AMSTERDAM: The Dutch Supreme Court yesterday upheld lower court decisions ordering the return of ancient Crimean gold artefacts to Ukraine, marking the end of a long legal process.
The artefacts had been on display at the Allard Pierson Museum in the Netherlands when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and Ukraine and museums in Crimea had demanded their return.
“This decision ends this dispute. The Allard Pierson Museum must return these artistic treasures to the state of Ukraine and not to the museums in Crimea,” the ruling said.
The pieces, including a solid gold Scythian helmet and a golden neck ornament each weighing more than 1kg, were on loan at the museum in Amsterdam.
The UN, the European Union and the Netherlands recognise the “territorial integrity” of Ukraine in its pre-2014 borders.
Lower courts in the Netherlands found in 2016 and 2021 that the pieces should be returned to Ukraine.
The appeals court decision in 2021 noted that under Ukrainian law the artefacts will be held at the National Historical Museum in Kyiv “until the situation in Crimea has stabilised”.
The 2021 decision “struck a fair balance between infringing on the rights of the museums and the interests of the state of Ukraine in protecting its cultural heritage”, the Dutch Supreme Court said today.