The Greek culture ministry was quick to respond on Tuesday to a story in the Independent claiming that the Greek government was urging the UK to allow the restoration of Parthenon sculptures “as a symbolic act against sinister forces seeking the ‘dissolution of Europe’“.
In its statement, the ministry described the story — running under the title “Greece Offers Ancient Archaeological Wonders in Exchange for Elgin Marbles” — as “inaccurate” adding that there has been no communication by the current minister or officials with the British Museum but that a new strategy for the return of the Parthenon Marbles was being examined.
The Greek ministry underlined that Greece is currently examining the possibility of cooperating with the British Museum and looking for ways to re-enter a dialogue for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, currently being hosted by the British Museum.
“As president of IARPS I have not talked to any journalist and had no knowledge of this article. Moreover, references to specific projects are the result of pure imagination on the part of the journalist signing the article or someone else who spoke on my behalf without permission,” said Louis Godart, chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (IARPS), of the report.
“Articles of this kind can seriously undermine the efforts in this case,” he said, adding that it is his belief that “today, more than ever, a serious discussion between the British state, the British Museum and the Greek government can have significant results towards the return of the Parthenon Marbles”.
The 2,500-year-old marble sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon have been the subject of dispute since they were illegally removed and taken out of the country by the Earl of Elgin in 1803, later to be housed in the British Museum. Greece decided against taking legal action against the UK last year.