From next week, Greek City Times is proud to be launching a dedicated weekly column concerning one of the world’s most hotly debated cultural-restitution cases: the Parthenon Sculptures.
For Greek City Times – and for millions of Greeks, philhellenes, scientists, artists, scholars, students and regular everyday citizens around the world – the repatriation and reunification of the Parthenon Marbles held for these past 200 years at the British Museum in London – is of more than symbolic importance. It is a matter of healing a deep national wound and repairing relations with one of Greece’s longest and dearest allies. Above all, it is a matter of justice. As we recently stated, there is really only one argument that is relevant to this case: that returning the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens is the right thing to do.
For years, we have been closely following various Greek Governments and over 36 international groups and organizations in their efforts to bring these sculptures back home and to reunite them with their other half, on display since 2009 in the stunning new Acropolis Museum. These efforts have kept this issue alive and relevant for many decades, and are supported by the weight of public opinion (even in Britain), but none of them have had the combination of resources and strategic focus needed to break this centuries-old impasse.
Recently, however, our attention was drawn to the quietly impressive efforts and meticulous strategic planning supported by Lefas Humanitas, a family foundation basedin Luxembourg dedicated to supporting cultural, educational and humanitarian initiatives involving Greece. We contacted the person in Athens, Don Morgan Nielsen (classicist, Olympian and strategic advisor), whose team was responsible for researching and developing the foundation’s Parthenon strategy, and after long conversations, realized that their bold and carefully balanced approach, if adopted by the Greek Government, has a very good chance of succeeding where so many others have failed.
The quality, breadth and practical focus of their research was what first helped us understand why this effort could succeed. Mr. Nielsen’s team spent well over a year studying forty years of repatriation efforts of four “source” countries: Egypt, Turkey, Italy and Greece – as well as the campaigns of the various national and international groups and organizations who have been tirelessly lobbying for the return of the Marbles. Their research rightly focused most carefully on the Britain Parliament, Government ministries and the British Museum, included past and current Trustees. The strategy which emerges from all this research and analysis has given us renewed hope that this dispute can be creatively resolved with enormous benefits accruing to the British Museum and to relations between Greece and Britain – and that a comprehensive win-win solution currently under review by Lefas Humanitas is the key.
For all of these reasons, Greek City Times has invited Mr. Nielsen, on behalf of Lefas Humanitas, to enter into a conversation with our readers – in the form of a weekly column, “The Parthenon Report”, in which he will explore many of the issues related to the repatriation of the Parthenon Sculptures. We hope that you will pay close attention to this column and share it as widely as you can, especially among friends, colleagues and acquaintances who may, up to now, have no connection with Greece but who might be interested in one of the great controversies of the past two hundred years. For us at Greek City Times, the cause of the Parthenon Sculptures is the canary in the coal mine – a test of whether justice can prevail in this undeniably new era.