Greece is stepping up efforts for the permanent return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens prior to next year’s 200th Anniversary of the Greek War of Independence of 1821, Greek Culture and Sports Minister Lina Mendoni told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Their repatriation from the British Museum is a national priority, she said.
“The Parthenon Sculptures exhibited in the British Museum are the product of theft,” the minister stressed.
The 2,500-year-old marble sculptures have been the subject of dispute for over three decades, with Greece and the international community repeatedly calling on the British Museum to return them to their place of origin.
The sculptures were ‘violently’ and illegally removed from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin in the 1800s and sold to the British Museum.
Since September 2003 when construction work for the Acropolis Museum began, Greece has systematically demanded the return of the sculptures on display in the British Museum.
“The Parthenon was dismembered, broken into pieces and then looted,” president of the Acropolis Museum, Professor Dimitrios Pandermalis told Xinhua.
The marble friezes that are on display at the British Museum, make up approximately 60% of the total remaining sculptural material, he explained.
The need for their reunification with the other 40% in Athens, is a cultural imperative, Professor Dimitrios Pandermalis stressed.
“It is important the sculptures that lie separated in Athens and in London to be assembled again. A new interpretation will come up from this unity and will be treated as such. They will not be just pieces, but complete forms,” he argued.
Pandermalis is among the members of a new advisory committee that has been set up in Athens for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.
Greece steps up efforts for the return of marble sculptures in collaboration with international committees dedicated to the cause. The primary aim of the 17 international committees- from New Zealand to Brazil and Britain to Russia- is to reunite the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens.
Mendoni underlined the vital role played by the international committees, saying “We undertook a series of initiatives along with the support of the committees to keep the issue alive, because we believe that it can be used as leverage to the British museum.”
The minister believed that the timing is crucial considering the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Greece is going to host an international meeting next year bringing all the committees together for the official launch of the new campaign.