Showing results 1 - 12 of 62 for the category: Marbles Reunited.

March 9, 2015

Andrew George MP to table Parthenon Marbles EDM

Posted at 1:57 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

As outlined in yesterday’s post, Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George is due to table an Early Day Motion later today, urging the government to return the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece. Andrew George is also the chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign, based in the UK.

I’m disappointed to see that the BBC has chosen to unquestioningly print the assertions of the British Museum, that Elgin rescued the sculptures so that the world could enjoy them. All evidence available in the form of letters from Elgin to his wife & others, indicated that he wanted them to adorn his new house which was being built at Broomhall. It was only much later on, when bankrupt & trying to justify his ownership of them to the government, that he came up with the notion that he had been acting first and foremost as a preservationist.

MacGregor says that these items should be shared with as many people as possible, but as has been said many times before, if this is the case, then surely Beijing would be a better location for the sculptures than London?

A metope from the Parthenon Sculptures, currently in the British Museum

A metope from the Parthenon Sculptures, currently in the British Museum

BBC News

9 March 2015 Last updated at 08:06
Elgin Marbles: Commons motion urges return to Greece

A parliamentary move to expedite the return of the Elgin Marbles from the UK to Greece will be made later.

In an early day motion, Lib Dem MP Andrew George will urge the government to make moves towards “reuniting” them with those in the Acropolis Museum.
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March 8, 2015

UK reluctant to enter Parthenon Marbles mediation process

Posted at 12:08 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

In September 2013, a request was made by Greece to Britain, to enter a mediation process to resolve the Parthenon Sculptures reunification issue. The process would take place via the snappily named Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation, a sub-committee of UNESCO.

The request for mediation marked a new step for Greece, and a clear realisation that small scale informal negotiations to resolve the issue were making little progress.

Since the request was issued, any appeals for updates have indicated that the British Government is still considering their response.

Last year, it was requested that a response would be made by 31st March 2015. However, government sources say that they are unable to make any significant announcement this side of the May election. We must bear in mind at this stage, that all current predictions are that there will be no clear majority in the May 2015 general election, so if not a change of government, at the very minimum, we can expect a significant restructuring of the coalition.

The British Government is clean to prevaricate over what is likely (according to all past policy indications) to be a negative response, but the reality is that any negative response might well be met by a stronger riposte from Greece.

For a number of years now, talks have taken place in secret in Greece regarding the possibility of some form of legal action over the Parthenon Marbles. These talks became more public when it became known that Amal Clooney was involved. As a side note, she was in fact involved all along – I have had sight of confidential papers that her name is ascribed to, from early 2011. Previously though, the lawyers were able to operate beneath the radar though, whereas Amal’s new found fame means that this is no longer such a simple proposition.

The likelihood of litigation is increased by the recent news that even if there Greek Government does not have the money to invest in this sort of venture, there are others who are happy to do so on their behalf.

What this leads on to, is that it is clear that Greece is considering other options. If their mediation request is rebuffed, they are not going to just drop the issue, but have fall back options, that could be a lot less palatable than mediation.

It is unclear, whether after an initial rejection of the mediation request, the offer to enter into the process would still be open to Britain.

Meanwhile, the British Museum, while unwilling to invest efforts in actual negotiations seems to have been taking measures to try & prop up their own back story behind why retention of the sculptures is a good idea. The first step was the rather controversial and secretive loan of one of the sculptures to the Hermitage in St Petersburg, which was announced to much fanfare in The Times. The second step is the commissioning of a rather narrowly focussed poll, aimed at giving the impression that those in the industry were entirely favourable of return (well they would say that wouldn’t they).

These moves are indicative that the British Museum is no longer sitting quite as comfortably as it once was. It is trying to make its position more secure, yet the loan to the Hermitage seems to have done exactly the opposite, with many former retentionists being strongly critical of the Museum’s actions.

It is clear that we are entering a new chapter in Greece’s quest for the return of the sculptures – one that has move on from informal applications to something much more structured. The stakes may be higher for both sides, but the aggressive responses from the British Museum indicate that the Greek approach seems to be having some sort of success. My hope is that the new SYRIZA led coalition is willing to keep up the pressure, rather than making a complete change of policy.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum


Elgin Marbles row: Greece tells British Government to stop stonewalling on return of Parthenon sculptures
Ian Johnston
Saturday 07 March 2015

The Government is refusing to negotiate with Greece about the return of the so-called Elgin Marbles despite a request to do so from the United Nations, a decision that could prompt Athens to begin legal action for the first time.

British campaigners likened the UK’s stance to “clinging on to stolen booty for dear life” and contrasted it with the “generous act” of returning the sculptures to help a friendly country on the brink of economic collapse. Youth unemployment has hit 50 per cent and suicide rates have soared amid a crisis so severe the Financial Times has warned Greece could turn into a “quasi slave economy”.
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February 25, 2015

Christopher Price, MP and stalwart Marbalista – 1932-2015

Posted at 2:23 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

I was sorry to hear earlier this week that Chris Price had passed away at the age of 83.

For those who didn’t know him, Chris was a former Labour politician, who worked tirelessly for many years in support of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece. He studied classics at Oxford and expressed his views on the Elgin Marbles (as they were then known) to colleagues as early as 1958. This is interesting, as many retentionists like to believe that any movements for return only originated when Melina Mercouri became Culture Minister in Greece in the 1980s, whereas the reality is that the return movement has always existed.

Chris was one of the original members of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, and its Deputy Chairman for many years. He was also a member of Marbles Reunited, liaising between the two committees. He was also a great philhellene and critic of the Turkish invasion of Northern Cyprus. Unlike many of today’s politicians, he was a man of substance and conviction – somebody who would do what he believed to be right, rather than perpetually worrying about whether this would damage his chances of being re-elected.

After leaving parliament following electoral defeat in 1983, he went on to become the vice-chancellor of Leeds Polytechnic during its transition to becoming a university, part of his lifelong commitment for a fairer and more equal society and the importance of educational opportunity. Once he retired had more time available to devote to the restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures, regularly using his parliamentary contacts and in-depth knowledge of government procedures to secure meetings, discover about new bills that were going to be debated and otherwise intervene, to make sure that the opinion of those supporting reunification of the sculptures was heard.

He enriched the lives of all of us who were lucky enough to have known him, and his expertise will be missed by all who campaign for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures. While others might have pre-conceived ideas of how the campaign should be managed, Chris was always open to adapting strategies and incorporating new approaches, in order to accommodate changing conditions. When I last met with him in 2010, he was enthusiastically talking to me about the idea of cultural decolonisation – the idea that Britain had decolonised physically, but never bothered to send back the cultural artefacts when she granted independence & that this was a widespread movement that needed to happen.

Chris died last Saturday 20th February 2015, after a period of poor health following a stroke.

Christopher Price, Deputy Chairman of the BCRPM

Christopher Price, Deputy Chairman of the BCRPM


Christopher Price: Energetic MP who despite his combative nature was liked and admired both by colleagues and opponents
Tam Dalyell
Tuesday 24 February 2015

It was Christopher Price’s misfortune – and in my informed opinion the nation’s – that he never held a safe Labour seat. In 1966 he took Birmingham Perry Barr from the Conservative incumbent Dr Wyndham Davies but perished when Edward Heath came to power in 1970. In February 1974 he was elected to Lewisham West, and held the seat in 1979, but to the huge sadness of his many Labour friends – he had the rare gift in politics of being candid and outspoken without making enemies – he lost by a sliver in the 1983 election at which Gerald Kaufman described Labour’s manifesto as “the longest suicide note in history”.

Had Price survived he would certainly have been elected to the Shadow Cabinet, and might well have been elected leader rather than Neil Kinnock; he would have garnered votes from a number of colleagues. His eventual successor in Perry Barr, Jeff Rooker, then a young engineering manager, told me Price had been well-regarded by the Birmingham Labour councillors and local union leaders. Jill Knight (Edgbaston) remembered him as a first class colleague on City of Birmingham supra-party issues. Brian Walden, elected in 1964 for Birmingham all Saints, told me, “Chris Price was a very, very good constituency MP. He genuinely cared about people, not least those from ethnic minorities. I have nothing adverse to say about him.” Coming from the most acerbic TV inquisitor of our age, that last sentence is an accolade.
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February 10, 2014

George Clooney thinks Britain should return Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 12:15 am in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

The book & now the film of Monuments Men have been covered a number of times already on this website.

Now that the film is out in the cinemas, others have also made the connection between the stories it describes & that of the Parthenon Sculptures.

At a recent press conference, George Clooney was asked by a journalist about whether he thought that Britain should return Greek artefacts (a clear reference to the Parthenon Sculptures). He stated that he felt that Greece had a very good case to make, and that is would be a very fair thing to happen if they were returned.

George Clooney, Star of Monuments Men

George Clooney, Star of Monuments Men

In response to this, the the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, John Whittingdale, suggested that Clooney didn’t know what he was talking about & that “There’s a very strong view in this country that they should stay in the UK”. Clearly, he has not seen the results of the previous polls organised by the BCRPM & Marbles Reunited a few years ago, which indicated an overwhelming level of support amongst people who were well informed about the issue.

You can see a video of the actual question here:


George Clooney believes Britain should lose its Marbles
Ian Johnston
Sunday 09 February 2014

Hollywood actor George Clooney has called for the UK to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, saying it is “the right thing to do”.

Clooney was speaking at the Berlin Film Festival yesterday during a press conference for his film The Monuments Men, which tells the story of a team sent by the Allies to try to save artefacts from being stolen by the Nazis.
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October 20, 2013

A report from the Roundtable on the Parthenon Marbles held in Brussels.

Posted at 12:34 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, International Association, Marbles Reunited, New Acropolis Museum, Similar cases

In addition to the articles I posted earlier, Marbles Reunited has written a report on the event held in Brussels earlier this week, and Tom Flynn has also posted a transcript of his talk.

The report that follows is based on my notes taken during the event. I have not tried to capture everything, just the key points. I am hoping that my comments do not misrepresent what the speakers were saying – some it was from the live translation there, and some of it was from the responses to questions afterwards, rather than from the original speeches.

After introductions by Krister Kumlin & a brief video, Tom Flynn was the first speaker, and pointed out, that when considering the acquisition of obviously looted artefacts “Most museums now know better”. The thing is of course, how to get museums to act retrospectively – to apply the rules that they would use now to actions that they made well before their current rules and guidelines came into force.

He also added, that “Nowadays, the social network acts as a critical filter to the acquisition of disputed artefacts”. This is a good point, as museums nowadays have a far greater interaction with the public than perhaps ever before. People’s opinions mean more to them than they ever used to, and as a result, it is important to let museums know if what you think they are doing is morally unacceptable.

German MEP Jo Leinen had a simple message – drawing on the words of another German politician, he quoted Willie Brandt “we have to unite what belongs together”.

The Spanish MEP, Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez took a slightly different viewpoint from some of the other speakers, looking at this action by Britain, in the context of other actions that occur within Europe. He felt that it was particularly important that the countries of northern Europe, in some way recognise that although they might be economically the powerhouses of Europe today, they still owe so much culturally to the Mediterranean countries in the South of Europe. He stressed a message that Campaigns such as Marbles Reunited have also long emphasised, that “It is not about sending the Parthenon Marbles back to Athens, but about reuniting them”.
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November 8, 2012

House of Commons Early Day Motion to highlight recent developments relating to Parthenon Marbles return

Posted at 10:00 am in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

Andrew George MP, the chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign, has tabled a new Early Day Motion, highlighting many of the recent developments that relate to the return of the Parthenon Marbles. EDMs are a way in which members of parliament can both gauge the level of support for proposals.

Parliamentary Information Management Web Site

Session: 2012-13
Date tabled: 18.09.2012
Primary sponsor: George, Andrew
Sponsors:Caton, Martin; Corbyn, Jeremy; Galloway, George; Hancock, Mike; Sanders, Adrian

That this House is aware that half of the Parthenon sculptures, controversially removed from Athens by Lord Elgin 210 years ago using a flimsy legal justification during the Ottoman occupation of Greece, remain on display in the British Museum; notes that, when presented with the facts, the British public favours the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles in Athens; and that at the Intelligence Squared debate on 11 June 2012, the audience voted 384 to 125 in favour of return, having marginally voted in favour of their retention before the debate commenced; further notes the opinion poll being conducted by the Journal of the Museums Association which showed 73 per cent in favour of reunification and 27 per cent against; is aware that the British Museum has abandoned most of its conventional arguments and now advances the novel concept of a universal museum; believes that in view of the uniqueness of the case for the reunification of these sculptures, it would consequently not constitute a precedent for other restitution cases; and calls on the Government to take heed of the consistent indications of domestic public and professional opinion and the growing worldwide interest by initiating a review of the cultural, ethical and political justifications for refusing to reunite these British-held Parthenon sculptures with those now displayed in the purpose-built Acropolis Museum in the shadow of the monument to which they belong, the Parthenon in Athens.

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June 16, 2012

Change of times for Intelligence Squared Parthenon Marbles debate TV broadcast

Posted at 3:22 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

The times for the broadcast on TV of Monday’s Intelligence Squared debate over the return of the Parthenon Marbles have changed from what was originally indicated.

The new times (from BBC website) are:

Recordings of the debate will be broadcast on BBC World News at 09:10 and 21:10 on 23 June, and 02:10 and 15:10 on 24 June. All times GMT.

For those of you in the UK, note that this is GMT, not BST. Furthermore, note that BBC World News is not available to watch online in USA, UK or Japan.

So – you can’t watch it on TV in the UK, unless you have foreign satellite TV already (not Sky, as they don’t carry it). A lot of countries in Europe broadcast BBC World News however – for more details see the BBC website page for the channel. As far as I know, it will also be available on the Intelligence Squared Youtube channel after the TV broadcast date.

May 11, 2012

Competition to create images promoting return Parthenon Marbles return & win “Opus Elgin” tickets

Posted at 1:26 pm in Elgin Marbles, Events, Marbles Reunited

Marbles Reunited is running a competition to create images that promote the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece.

On offer as prizes are two tickets to the opera in Athens about the Elgin Marbles: “Opus Elgin: The destruction of the Parthenon”

So – if you have great ideas for images, or if you have already produced images that might be suitable, make sure you enter the competition.

Marbles Reunited

Win two tickets to the upcoming event “Opus Elgin: The destruction of the Parthenon”

In recent months, a number of activities have occurred, all with the aim of raising the public’s awareness with regards to the matter of the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures. A noteworthy effort, and an event which promises to be memorable is the upcoming opera in two acts “Opus Elgin: The destruction of the Parthenon”.

Raising public awareness is paramount to the cause and Marbles Reunited wholeheartedly support noteworthy efforts in doing so. In aid of this event, and with the cooperation of Imeros for Culture, we have decided to both inspire people further and encourage them to attend this event.
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May 9, 2012

Why the “No Marbles – No flame” flame campaign for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures won’t succeed

Posted at 2:56 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

The Olympics in Athens in 2004 was seen as a key milestone for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. At that point in time, it was intended that the New Acropolis Museum would be finished by the time the Olympics arrived in the city. I myself was one of the original members of the Parthenon 2004 (now re-branded as Marbles Reunited) campaign, which wanted a commitment from the British government by the time of the Olympics that the sculptures would be returned.

Alas, it was not to be. Greek politics got in the way of the issue, with the PASOK government being replaced by Nea Dimokratia, only a few months before the Olympics. This has the knock on effects of cancelling pre-planned spending for publicity for the campaign for the return of the marbles, before it was able to make the desired impact. A further problem at this stage was that the ND government, while in opposition had been vehement opponents of the building of the New Acropolis Museum in the first place, which ran on into arguments well after change of government, as they were forced to reverse their policy, in an attempt to re-claim the building project as their own.

As the 2012 Olympics approaches in London & the election season has well & truly hit Greece, we get a sense of history repeating, as similar moves are afoot to connect the event to the return of the Parthenon Sculptures from the British Museum. There is a logical connection to be made here – the case regarding the marbles is one between Greece & the UK – and in a similar way, the Olympics represent a strong tie in of ideas that originate from Greek culture, coming to the UK. As such, it represents an ideal time to highlight the issue – magazines want to run Greek related features & the intertwined history of the two countries is at the forefront of people’s minds for a few weeks.

However, there are other campaigns that want to take a more destructive approach to it – blocking the Olympic flame from being handed over to Britain, unless the Parthenon Marbles are returned.

I can see a number of flaws to this approach – not least the fact, that current events mean that the planned handover later this week are riding on the back of events, that with hindsight are unlikely to be seen as one of the high-points in Greece’s history. I don’t claim to fully understand Greek politics (although I try my hardest), but I have had a lot of insights into how British politics and the British press work.

As with the events disrupting the Olympic torch relay before the Beijing Olympics, mixing politics with a sporting event which is meant to unite countries is unlikely to be a good combination. People are meant to be looking at how the countries set aside their differences for the sake of the competition, rather than antagonising each other.

Within the UK, some of the newspapers are already in support of the Parthenon Marbles return campaigns, but others are strongly against it. Such antagonistic actions as disrupting the lead up to the Olympics, will not be portrayed well by these papers (that point I am willing to stake money on) and these papers are read by many who believe everything they read in those papers. As such, the open minded people who support the return of the Marbles might hold their existing point of views, but many of those against restitution will use this as another point to shore up their arguments, that keeping them in the British Museum is the best option. A move to return the Marbles is only ever in the end likely to come from the British Government (although they might claim otherwise), and one thing about governments is that they like to be re-elected. If their constituents are all seen to be against the return of the sculptures, then British MPs are unlikely to see it as a key issue to support.

As such, the British Government is more likely to support maintaining the status quo regarding their policy on the marbles, when subjected to such demands. Campaigns for the return of the marbles are far more likely to succeed, when they manage to put the issue in such a way that the government can see the eventual return as their decision, not one they have been forced into taking. Governments and politicians like to gain public attention in a positive light – the magnanimous gesture of taking the decision to return the sculptures, in front of the international press could be seen as a vote winner, while being portrayed as supine whipping boys to the demands of foreign nationalistic campaigns (for this is how the press would portray it) would not be thought of as a vote winning exercise by many.

For these reasons, I can’t see the No Marbles – No Flame aspect of certain current campaigns as being likely to succeed in its aims of returning the marbles, although like other current events in Greece, it may well a way to grab a few minutes of fame for a few people.

In some ways, this has been a long running theme of campaigns from within Greece for the return of the Marbles. Greek politicians see the event as a vote winner domestically (which it nearly always is), yet they are afraid to actually deal with it internationally – because such actions inevitably would lead to some form of compromise or negotiated deal – which could well be reported in a bad light by the Greek press as their having given up more of the country’s heritage in return for what was rightfully theirs in the first place. Greek politicians all know this and are generally great at playing the Greek press – but few seem to think in as much detail about how to work with the British Press – despite the fact that the UK’s media are in many ways the ones that could decide the eventual fate of the sculptures.

As it happens, the timing of current events surrounding Greece’s general election & the Eurozone crisis are likely to completely overshadow any attempts to bloc the handover of the flame, limiting the amount of reporting it will get in the press – particularly as it is now predicted by many, that it will happen on the same day as a new general election is going to be called.

On the other hand, I could be completely wrong & David Cameron may be already writing his speech for Thursday evening’s surprise decision to return the Parthenon Sculptures – I’ve been wrong about many things in the past – but I have a feeling that I probably won’t be this time.

Campaigning for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures is an admirable cause, which I am fully behind, but it should be done in a way that aims to move the issue forwards rather than pushing back much of the progress that has already been made. A lot like Greek elections really…

Athens News

Parthenon Marbles campaigners fired up by flame handover
by George White
9 May 2012

Campaigners seeking the return of the Parthenon Marbles – also known as the Elgin Marbles – to Greece are hoping that attention on the London Olympics and the torch relay will further their effort.

Alexis Mantheakis, chairman of the International Parthenon Sculptures Action Committee spoke to the Athens News ahead of Thursday’s ceremony at Ancient Olympia to light the flame for the July 27–August 12 London Olympics.
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November 16, 2011

Latest newsletter from the Marbles Reunited campaign

Posted at 1:48 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

The Marbles Reunited campaign’s latest newsletter is now available to download from their website.

Download it here.

July 21, 2011

Andrew George MP expands on his arguments for why the Parthenon Marbles should now be returned

Posted at 10:17 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

Andrew George MP, Chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign, explains some of the reasoning behind his request that the the British Government return the Parthenon Sculptures.


Comment: No bailout, but will the Elgin marbles do?
Tuesday, 28 June 2011 10:35 AM
We might not want to be involved in the bail out, but returning the Elgin Marbles would show we are Greece’s friend.
By Andrew George MP

Whilst the current financial crisis dominates all current press coverage relating to Greece, there is no reason why we should use this as an excuse to ignore other key Anglo-Hellenic issues.

At present, news coming from Greece is predominantly negative – returning the Parthenon Sculptures (popularly known as the Elgin Marbles) would give people there something positive – a reason to celebrate and something that would increase the tourist draw to the country, helping to revive their economy.
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June 23, 2011

British Prime Minister does not want the Elgin Marbles returned

Posted at 2:39 pm in Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

More coverage of David Cameron’s rebuttal of Andrew George’s Prime Minister’s Questions on the Parthenon Marbles.

You can watch the video coverage of it on the BBC’s website. The relevant part is 20:40 into the clip.

The Guardian

David Cameron rejects call to return Parthenon marbles to Greece
PM dismisses suggestion by Liberal Democrat that collection of classical Greek marble sculptures should be returned to Athens
Hélène Mulholland, political reporter, Wednesday 22 June 2011 14.50 BST

David Cameron has rejected a call for Britain to “put right a wrong” that dates back just short of two centuries by returning the Parthenon marbles to Greece.

Andrew George, the Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, reopened the issue of the marble sculptures, currently in the British Museum, when he incorporated the Greek financial crisis in a Commons question.
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