Vienna, 10 June 2013 – After several long years of negotiating the restitution of the Esterházy Library,one of the most valuable collections of old books worldwide, the collection was today symbolically returned by the Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Alla Manilova, in the presence of Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko, Chair of the Russian Federation Council, to Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger. "These books are of great cultural importance for us. I am therefore delighted that they will once more return to their rightful place, the Esterházy Palace, after 70 years", Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said.
The Esterházy library was built up over a period of four centuries based on the "Bibliotheca Esterházyana" as it was called that was compiled in the 17th century. The latter constitutes the oldest part of the library and was removed from the Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria, by Russian soldiers in 1945 and then taken to what today is Russia. Austrian and Russian expert librarians have jointly identified 977 books over the years that are still kept in Russian libraries and which are unquestionably part of the Esterházy collection. An agreement on the restitution of these books to Austria has now been reached. This success is a direct result of Austria’s efforts over many years to effect the restitution of Austrian cultural goods that were taken to the Soviet Union during WWII and still remain in Russia today.
"This restitution is yet another expression of the excellent cultural cooperation that exists between our two countries", Spindelegger emphasised and also referred to the imminent Austrian-Russian Cultural Seasons 2013-2015 in this context.
The agreement on the restitution of the Esterházy library to the Republic of Austria will enter into force on 1 September 2013. According to the provisions of the agreement, Russia will have to return the books from the collection to Austria by 1 December 2013.
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