The Parthenon Marbles could be apart of the Brexit deal between UK and the European Union. In the mind of Geoffrey Robertson, the Marbles “are, of course, priceless, and a UK offer to return them should be accepted in return for major concessions.” Geoffrey who? Geoffrey Robertson is head of the UK law firm Head of Doughty Street Chambers Greece briefly had hired to claim the Parthenon Marbles back.
Together with associate Amal Alamuddin – Clooney, Robertson visited Athens in October 2014 to support the cause. The Bring the Marbles Back Team met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Culture Minister Konstantinos Tasoulas. The UK firm prepared a 142-page report on the Marbles reunification for 200,000 British Pound reportedly donated by a rich Diaspora Greek.
In December 2015, Culture Minister Aristidis Baltas admitted that Greece had not legal case to win the Return of the Marbles.
In his argument “Let’s do a Brexit deal with the Parthenon marbles” to The Guardian, Geoffrey Robertson could not resist temptation and left one or two pejorative remarks against the Greeks.
Putting the return of Lord Elgin’s stolen marbles on the Brexit negotiating table would lead both to a boon for Britain and a triumph for European enhancement of its heritage.
Reuniting the marbles is a cultural imperative, not so much for Greece (its current citizens are of doubtful descent from Pericles) as for Europe. United, they will stand as a unique representation of the beginnings of civilised life in Europe, 2,500 years ago. […] United in the custom-built modern museum beneath the Parthenon, the marbles will be the greatest artistic and architectural treasure on the continent.
There is no doubt that they were stolen.[…]
They are now vested by the 1963 British Museum Act in the trustees of the institution. But parliament can unvest them, by a simple amendment or a line in the big Brexit bill, and send them back to Athens as part of our final deal with Europe.
Now is the time to offer to return them, as part of the Brexit deal. No one yet seems to have noticed the binding obligations on EU states and their negotiators, and on the UK (which remains a member state until it leaves) imposed by the EU treaty itself. article 3 sets down the duty to enhance Europe’s cultural heritage (obviously achievable by reuniting the marbles) and article 167 is specific. “When taking action under other provisions of the treaty” (ie under article 50) Brussels and all member states must “take into account” the objective of “conserving and safeguarding cultural heritage of European significance”.
There is no more significant cultural heritage than the Parthenon marbles, so the negotiators on both sides are bound to take their reunification into account. They are, of course, priceless, and a UK offer to return them should be accepted in return for major concessions.
It could become, in that dreadful phrase, a “win-win” situation: European negotiators would be praised for a unique cultural achievement, and the UK would earn not only large discounts. And the deal would have the advantage of not depending on the Greek government, which has been unavailingly requesting return, through diplomatic channels, since 1833.
Jean-Claude Juncker and his bureaucrats, and the governments of Germany, France and Italy in particular often refer to the importance to Europe of its culture – and they shouldn’t miss this opportunity to enhance it. The treaty itself, in my view, obliges them to put the reunification of the marbles on the negotiating table, and to give as much ground as possible to achieve their return to Athens. As for the UK, a willingness to surrender Elgin’s ill-gotten gains will win goodwill as well as concessions. Britain is leaving Europe, so it should leave Europe with its marbles.
The Guardian notes that “Geoffrey Robertson QC, together with Amal Clooney and the late Professor Norman Palmer, prepared a report on reunification for the Greek government.”
According to Hellenic Council for the Return of the Marbles, the Robertson report was dated 31. July 2015.
While Amal and Robertson were in Athens media reported that the UK law firm was to provide initially technical advise on the issue. They came, dinned and laughed and left and we never heard about them again.
However, the media and the Greeks had fun and were so fascinated by chick and fabulous Amal Alamuddin – Clooney, that in the end, Greece’s troubled and austerity-hit pensioners asked her to help them bring their Stolen Pensions back.