Brexit might just be the right time for the Greek government to exert pressure on Britain to return the Parthenon Marbles and put an end to decades of controversy, according to Guardian columnist Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett.
In a story titled “Brexit Chisels Away Any Right Britain had to the Parthenon Marbles”, Cosslett notes that once the UK exits the EU it “should finally have the decency to return Greece’s plundered heritage… [which] resides in a gloomy room in the British Museum” to Greece, where the “remaining Parthenon Marbles are bathed in sunlight and overlooked by the temple that was their original site” and “profoundly beautiful”.
The writer goes on to stress that only 23 percent of Britons – particularly among the young “and not of an imperialistic bent” – wanted to keep the sculptures, which the “Greeks continue to care deeply about”.
Cosslet joins Andrew George, chair of Marbles Reunite and a Liberal Democrat MP, and English actor Stephen Fry in urging the return of the Marbles, appealing to a British sense of fair play. She adds that the most persuasive argument is that as a single work of art, the Parthenon Marbles should not be divided.
The Guardian columnist concludes that the British Museum cannot lay claim to being a “museum for the world” when the “British government has jettisoned freedom of movement in its Brexit negotiations”.
“Send the Parthenon Marbles back to Athens,” she says, where they are free to be viewed by all EU citizens “who should choose to travel there, free from restrictions”, adding that “Britain can surely make do with plaster casts of the sculptures. The majority of visitors probably wouldn’t even notice, or care”.
Greece has for over three decades 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 sold by Lord Elgin to the British Museum in 1817.