Greece Steps Up Drive for Return of Parthenon Marbles
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is intensifying efforts for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, telling The Sunday Times that he expects the time has come for the repatriation of the ancient Greek art works and that he will raise the issue during his upcoming visit to London.
“I think the climate has changed in the United Kingdom,” said Mitsotakis. “At a time when [UK PM Liz] Truss will be looking to build her credibility and when the UK is sort of cornered in terms of its overall image after the [Queen’s] funeral it will be a fantastic gesture,” he said.
Mitsotakis is also counting on his “good personal relationship” with King Charles to push the issue forward. The Greek PM notes however that he is aware that the King of England will keep a neutral stance in the debate.
Meanwhile, Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni raised the issue of the Parthenon Marbles return during her address at the UNESCO-Mondiacult 2022 conference held in Mexico last month.
Mendoni said the issue was first tabled 40 years ago by then culture Minister Melina Mercouri. “The return and reunification of the sculptures is not only a matter of ethics and justice. It is at the core of the very principles on which UNESCO is based. Dialogue between nations presupposes dialogue between cultures, which in turn presupposes respect for the history, heritage and identity of each nation,” she said.
The culture minister stressed that the Parthenon, a “monument-symbol of UNESCO and registered on its World Heritage List”, can no longer remain fragmented and scattered.
“The preservation of the authenticity, unity and integrity of cultural heritage means defending against theft, looting, vandalism and illegal trade,” she said.
Mendoni called for coordinated international action for the return of cultural goods to their rightful owners and to their places of origin. “This becomes even more important when it concerns monuments of outstanding importance, monuments-symbols of the founding principles and common values shared by the global civil society represented at the United Nations.”
It should be reminded that 2,500-year-old marble sculptures, illegally removed from the Parthenon frieze by Lord Elgin in the 1800s and sold to the British Museum, have been the subject of dispute between Greece and the UK for over three decades with the international community repeatedly calling on the British Museum to return the Greek art works to their place of origin.