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Press coverage of the Round Table on the Parthenon Marbles at the European Parliament

There have been a few press articles about the Round Table event organised in Brussels last week [1], where various speakers explained why they supported the return of the Parthenon Sculptures.

Daily Telegraph [2]

Join in ‘mediation’ with Greece over Elgin Marbles, Unesco urges Britain
The long running dispute over the Elgin Marbles should be settled by mediation, Britain is told
By Martin Banks, Brussels
6:56PM BST 15 Oct 2013

William Hague has been urged to take part in a “mediation procedure” with Greece in a fresh diplomatic bid to resolve the long-running dispute over the Elgin Marbles.

Unesco, the United Nation’s cultural organisation, has written to the Foreign Secretary, to Maria Miller, the culture secretary, and to Neil MacGregor, the British Museum’s director, inviting them to sit down with Greek officials and seek a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of the sculptures – once part of the ancient Parthenon building in Athens.

The call for return of the so-called Elgin collection of Parthenon Sculptures, currently on display in the British Museum, has been at the heart of one of the world’s most celebrated cultural property dispute.

David Cameron has opposed calls to return the Marbles, acquired by the British envoy Lord Elgin in the early 19th Century, to Greece and the museum says the sculptures are a vital element of its displays. Mr MacGregor has said in the past that he would never agree to their return.

Greece’s culture minister, Panos Panayiotopoulos, who had called on Unesco to intervene in the dispute, said in Brussels that if the British side agreed to mediation, it would be the first time that Unesco had used such a procedure.

At a meeting called in the European Parliament by an international group that is campaigning for the sculptures’ return to Athens, Greek centre-right MEP Rodi Kratsa said his country had a “moral claim” to them, adding: “They symbolise the very foundation of Greek and European culture, one which is of universal significance. The dismembered sculptures offend our common European heritage and its perception worldwide.”

Professor Dusan Sidjanski, vice-president of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, suggested that “compensation” might be paid to Britain if it agreed to return the Marbles. An alternative would be “exchanging them for artefacts” donated by the Greeks, he said.

Greek Reporter [3]

European Mobilization for the Repatriation of Parthenon Marbles
By Sotiria Nikolouli on October 18, 2013

The ancient Greek marbles of Parthenon that are adorning the British Museum are of a major concern to the Greeks.

The story of stolen marbles is well-known. Lord Elgin the ambassador of England during the Ottoman Empire removed about half the Parthenon sculptures from 1801 until 1812, and then sold them to the British Museum in 1816.

The case of the return of the Parthenon Marbles, has emerged as a leading national demand, especially in the days of Greek Ambassador of Culture Melina Merkouri. Since then, there have been several efforts to return the marbles from England to Greece with poor results.

The inflexibility of the British government, the lack of organized international pressure, and lack of organization of the Greek governments haven’t solved this historical issue of high national and cultural importance.

However, this situation may change with the new effort of the “Swiss Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles” which is attempting to transform the issue from a bilateral problem between Greece and Britain to a major European cultural issue.

The Swiss Committee was established in 2008 by Dusan Sintzanski Serbian Political Scientist in aim to organize and spread knowledge at European and global level for the repatriation of the Marbles. Professor Sintzanski loves Greek history, is married to a Greek, and speaks Greek fluently.

On Tuesday October 15, the Swiss Committee in collaboration with the Member of European Parliament Rodi Kratsa organized a conference at the European Parliament on the mobilization of the European opinion on the issue.

The conference stressed the need for a European initiative, so as to find a solution of mutual acceptance between Britain and Greece for the repatriation of the Marbles.

The idea of donating the Marbles from the British Museum to Acropolis Museum in exchange with other ancient Greek exhibits caused reactions. This idea is probably going to be the basis for finding a settlement for both countries, as well as a final resolution of a problem which concerns Greece for decades.

The main goal of Swiss Commission, is to come in agreement with several MEPs in aim to take action after a vote procedure at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg. Many Greeks and foreign MEPs were present at the conference and requested the repatriation of Marbles in Greece.

The purpose of Professor Sintzanski, is to collaborate with the Greek State in finding the right strategy to succeed in returning the marbles to their hometown.