Often incorrectly called “Marbles” or even more counter-productively, the “Elgin Marbles”, the Parthenon Sculptures have been a hot topic of debate in the UK, with regular surveys conducted to ascertain public sentiment for their potential return.
With the UK government finally agreeing on a Brexit plan and the EU member states preparing legislation to deal with the consequences, many believe that this is the perfect time to revisit the issue of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures.
The European Parliament though still needs to give the UK the green light and presumably the parliaments of the respective EU Member States would still be required to ratify any deal. Greece could potentially use this opportunity as leverage in renewed negotiations.
Greece’s former Minister of Culture Lydia Koniordou saw Brexit as an opportunity when she sent a letter in 2018 to UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, urging him to revisit talks on the issue. The Brits once again resisted.
The last survey on the issue of the restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures was conducted by the UK government in 2018 with 2658 adults surveyed.
The survey found that 56% of respondents believed they should be returned to Greece, with 20% objecting to their return and a surprising 24% responding they “don’t know.”
Following is the UK survey question and results:
“The Parthenon Marbles are a collection of Ancient Greek sculptures that were removed from the Acropolis in Athens from 1801-12 (when Greece was ruled by the Ottoman Empire) and have been on display in the British Museum since 1817. The Greek government has requested their permanent return, but the British Museum has refused. Where do you believe the Parthenon Marbles belong?” (Source: YouGov)