India backs Greece’s request for the return of The Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum

Parthenon Marbles India

Indian Ambassador to UNESCO, Vishal V. Sharma, strongly backed Greece's efforts to return the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum to Athens.

The ambassador highlighted that the issue of the Parthenon Marbles "touches on broader issues of cultural restitution and the legacy of colonialism," adding that "it raises important questions about ownership of cultural artifacts, the role of museums and the potential for international cooperation and the preservation and repatriation of cultural heritage."

Sharma also slammed the British argument that "retaining colonial acquisitions is something that humanity needs to be proud of."

He concluded by saying that India supports Greece in no uncertain terms for the return of cultural heritage.

The British Museum seeks “realistic solutions” for the Parthenon Sculptures and a “new relationship” with Greece following Turkey’s intervention at a UNESCO conference when a Turkish representative claimed no Ottoman document legitimises Lord Elgin’s actions regarding the ancient Greek sculptures.

A museum spokesperson told SKAI TV on Tuesday, “The British Museum acknowledges Greece’s strong desire for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens. We understand and respect the deep emotions involved."

The museum aims to develop a “collaboration for the Parthenon” monument and explore innovative cooperation with Greece to enhance the global understanding and appreciation of the sculptures.

In a surprising move, Turkey’s spokesperson at a meeting of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP) denied knowledge of a written authorisation allowing Britain’s Lord Elgin to sell large sections of the Parthenon’s sculptural decorations that had been removed from the ancient Greek citadel between 1801 and 1812 when Athens was under Ottoman rule.

“We are not aware of any document legitimising this purchase,” Zeynep Boz, who heads the Turkish Culture Ministry’s department for combating trafficking in antiquities, told the 24th session of the committee, which took place in Paris on May 29-31.

Boz, whose comments challenge one of the chief arguments put forward by the British Museum against the Parthenon Sculptures’ return to Greece – namely that the British government legally obtained them with the permission of the Ottoman authorities – added that the marble’s removal was carried out by “UK colonialists.”

Therefore, Boz said, “I don’t think there’s room to discuss its legality, even during the time and under the law of the time.”

“We wholeheartedly look forward to celebrating the return of the Sculptures, as we believe it will mark a change of behaviour towards the protection of cultural property and be the strongest message given globally,” Boz added.

Greece’s Culture Minister Lina Mendoni reiterated that no Ottoman firman authorised Elgin’s removal of the sculptures. Greece remains committed to reuniting the Parthenon Sculptures in the Acropolis Museum, emphasising it as a national objective.

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