Greece’s Ministry of Culture and Sports has denied a report published in Britain’s Independent newspaper Tuesday that it had called for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, from the British Museum as a symbolic gesture against anti-democratic forces that seek “the dissolution of Europe.” Professor Louis Godart, chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (IARPS), who denied speaking to the newspaper, saying that the reporter made up his quotes.
In a statement, the Culture Ministry said that it is indeed considering the prospect of cooperation with the British Museum, but flatly dismissed the report in the Independent.
“Until now, the political leadership of the ministry has not made any official or unofficial proposal on this procedure [mentioned in the paper],” the statement read, adding that there has been a “systematic effort to restart the dialogue to reunite the sculptures with a new strategy that is not premised on a legal pursuit.”
Last year, Greece had decided against pursuing legal action against the UK, opting instead to restart diplomatic efforts to retrieve the sculptures, offering in exchange to loan ancient Greek artifacts to British institutions.
In its report, the paper quoted Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou as saying that the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles would “highlight the fight against the forces that undermine the values and foundations of the European case against those seeking the dissolution of Europe.” The Parthenon monument, she said, represents a symbol of Western civilization.
The article also carried quotes by professor Louis Godart, chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (IARPS), who denied speaking to the paper, saying that the reporter made up his quotes.
“As IARPS president I never spoke to any journalist and didn’t know anything about the article,” he said.
The paper had quoted Godart as saying “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.”