Visiting the archaeological site of Aigai and the burial complex of the ancient Macedonian kings in Vergina, northern Greece on Friday, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu described it as "a jewel in Europe's history."
Following her tour of the site, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, Cretu said it was very important for her to see this monument. "It is even more important not just to read history but to also see and feel history," she said.
Aigai, occupying roughly the same location as the modern town of Vergina, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia. The archaeological site contained the unsullied tomb of King Phillip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, one of the major archaeological finds of the 20th century.
The Commissioner also referred to projects for the protection of ancient cultural heritage underway at Aigai, with the support of regional programmes and Community funds.
"On the part of the EU, I must say that this work has been supported by the EU for the past 15 years, for reconstruction, and the building of a museum using the latest-generation technology that will include exhibits, galleries and even an amphitheatre," she said, noting that the EU had invested more than 30 million euros.
Europe must continue to invest in culture, she added: "In order to better understand who we are and where we come from, we must invest in the history of each country and the history of Europe."
The Commissioner was accompanied by Central Macedonia Region governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas and European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas, who noted that "there could not have been a more ideal place to conclude the Commissioner's visit to Greece."
"The Commissioner started a dialogue with the citizens in Athens, inaugurated one of the most historic and impressive works that the EU has financed in our country (the Tempi tunnels) and is concluding [her visit] in the cultural roots of Macedonia. All of us that accompanied her these days feel proud, including myself, as a Greek, as a European and as a Macedonian," Schinas said.