UK MPs back bid for re­turn of Parthenon Mar­bles

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The decades-long ef­fort to repa­tri­ate the Parthenon Mar­bles to Greece is set to re­ceive a boost with a new bill pre­pared by a group of cross-party MPs in the Bri­tish Par­lia­ment, seek­ing to re­turn them to Athens some 200 years af­ter they were re­moved.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the cam­paign for their re­turn say that this will help the UK se­cure bet­ter terms dur­ing its Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Euro­pean Union.

Ac­cord­ing to Bri­tain’s In­de­pen­dent, the Parthenon Sculp­tures (Re­turn to Greece) bill will be in­tro­duced by Lib­eral Demo­crat MP Mark Wil­liams, backed by Con­ser­va­tive deputy Jeremy Leroy and an­other 10 MPs from Labour, the Scot­tish Na­tional Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru.

“These mag­nif­i­cent ar­ti­facts were im­prop­erly dragged and sawn off the re­mains of the Parthenon,” the news­pa­per quoted Wil­liams as say­ing.

“This bill pro­poses that the Par­lia­ment should an­nul what it did 200 years ago. In 1816 Par­lia­ment ef­fec­tively state-sanc­tioned the im­proper ac­qui­si­tion of these im­pres­sive and im­por­tant sculp­tures from Greece,” he said ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

“It’s time we en­gaged in a gra­cious act. To put right a 200-year wrong.”

The Parthenon Mar­bles have for gen­er­a­tions been a source of fric­tion be­tween the Bri­tish govern­ment, the Bri­tish Mu­seum and the mod­ern Greek state.

Ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Athana­sios Naka­sis, pres­i­dent of the Hel­lenic branch of the In­ter­na­tional Coun­cil on Mon­u­ments and Sites, the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of the Mar­bles with the tem­ple would mean a great deal, emo­tion­ally, to Greece and would be lauded around the world.

“Emo­tion­ally, the re­turn of the Mar­bles to the place where the rest of the mon­u­ment re­sides would be a source of pride for Greeks, since the Athe­nian Acrop­o­lis is an im­por­tant sym­bolic cen­tre of the mod­ern na­tion,” he was quoted by the In­de­pen­dent as say­ing.

The Mar­bles were re­moved from the Parthenon tem­ple by Scot­tish diplo­mat Lord El­gin, who then sold them to the Bri­tish govern­ment.

The Bri­tish Mu­seum has re­peat­edly re­jected calls to re­turn the sculp­tures, say­ing that they were ac­quired by El­gin through a le­git­i­mate con­tract with the Ot­toman Em­pire which ruled Greece at the time.

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