Greek Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou has called for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum as a symbolic act in the fight against anti-democratic forces seeking the disosolution of Europe.” The so-called Elgin Marbles were removed from the Parthenon in the Acropolis by British Lord Elgin.
The Athens government, which decided against taking legal action against the UK last year, will instead renew diplomatic efforts with an offer to regularly loan some of the wonders of Ancient Greece to British institutions in exchange.
Lydia Koniordou, the Greek Minister of Culture and Sport, said allowing the restoration of this founding monument of Western values would send a message about Europe’s commitment to democracy – at a time when many believe this is under threat from rising nationalism.
“The reunification of the Parthenon Marbles will be a symbolic act that will highlight the fight against the forces that undermine the values and foundations of the European case against those seeking the dissolution of Europe,” Ms Koniordou said.
“The Parthenon monument represents a symbol of Western civilization. It is the emblem of democracy, dialogue and freedom of thought.”
Greece is carrying out restoration work on the Parthenon and has built a museum specifically designed to display the sculptures, but currently only has slightly less than half of them. Other fragments are held by several museums in Europe.
Elgin’s staff removed the sculptures somewhat crudely – for example, the heads of a centaur and a human in a dramatic fight scene are in Athens, while their bodies are in London.
Professor Louis Godart, the newly elected chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (IARPS), said: “It’s unthinkable that a monument which has been torn apart 200 years ago, which represents the struggle of the world’s first democracy for its own survival, is divided into two.
“We must consider that the Parthenon is a monument that represents our democratic Europe so it is vital that this monument be returned to its former glory.” (full article The Independent)