The Greek government is requesting that the ongoing issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece be part of the Brexit negotiations citing EU treaty law, according to English media reports.
European Parliament member Stelios Kouloglou has called on the Commission to include the thorny issue in Brexit talks. “Brexit negotiators must take into account the need to protect European cultural heritage… The Parthenon Marbles are considered as the greatest symbol of European culture. Therefore, reuniting the marbles would be both a sign of respect and civilised relationship between Great Britain and the EU, and much more [than] a legal necessity.”
In response, a European Commission spokesperson said he believed that the Brexit team is not legally obliged to address the issue, citing Articles 3, 50 and 167. “The Parthenon Marbles were removed long before this date, and the EU has no competence in the matter,” Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport said, referring to a directive on the return of unlawfully removed cultural objects which applies to items removed after January 1, 1993.
For over three decades, Greece has repeatedly called on the British Museum to return the 2,500-year-old marble sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon and have been the subject of dispute since they were illegally removed and sold by Lord Elgin to the British Museum in 1817.