Eighteen members of the United States Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, sent a letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging “earnest” talks for the return of the Parthenon sculptures to Greece.
“The Marbles have been the source of controversy among western allies for many decades. Greece has long wanted these Parthenon Marbles back,” the letter said, according to Daily Mail.
“Today we write to you as members of the congressional caucus on Hellenic Issues to urge your government to negotiate with the Greek government in earnest on the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece,” it continued.
The U.S. Congress members noted that they want to see the sculptures returned by 2021, the 200th Anniversary of the Greek War of Independence of 1821.
“We remain appreciative of your efforts and good will in support of the historic special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States, and look forward to strengthening that relationship through the accomplishment of matters such as this,” the letter added.
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.
The British Museum has consistently refused to return the priceless marbles.
The marble friezes that are on display at the British Museum, make up approximately 60% of the total remaining sculptural material. The need for their reunification with the other 40% in Athens, is a cultural imperative, Professor Dimitrios Pandermalis stressed.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told British newspaper the Observer that he called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to return the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens for 2021, the bicentennial celebration of Greek War of Independence. He added that he is willing to allow treasures that have never been shown abroad before to be exhibited in London in exchange for the Parthenon Sculptures being returned to Athens for 2021.
UNESCO itself strongly supports the need to resolve the issue by returning the sculptures through negotiations between the two sides.
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.”
Greece is going to host an international meeting next year bringing all the committees together for the official launch of the new campaign.