The Greek government has changed plans in its quest for the return of the Parthenon Marbles after the country’s culture minister said on Tuesday, that a diplomatic campaign would be launched instead to negotiate with the British Museum.
Speaking in Parliamentary session on a Council directive on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a member state, Culture Minister Aristides Baltas said the government would no longer need the services of the high-profile legal team headed by Amal Alamuddin, which he said had already be compensated.
The minister said there was no reason to move ahead with a legal claim “because we risk losing the case”.
The decision sparked controversy among the opposition with former culture minister Konstantinos Tasoulas slamming the government for its refusal to examine the legal study prepared by the London-based law firm, missing out in the process on a major opportunity to publicize the Greek argument internationally.
“The view that we do not go to court because we will lose is unacceptable… not only does it strengthen the opposing side’s argument but it also unfairly anticipates a loss despite Greece’s numerous arguments,” Tasoulas said.
Baltas, in the meantime, responded by saying that the cause now has “more friends” citing the increased numbers of visitors to the Acropolis Museum in Athens which demonstrates “how worthy we are to shelter our ancient artefacts”.
For over three decades, Greece has repeatedly called on the British Museum to return the 2,500-year-old marble sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon and 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.