January 23, 2004

Talks planned on Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 1:55 pm in Elgin Marbles

The British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, says that the best way forward to resolve the dispute over the Elgin Marbles is to enter into direct talks with the Greek Government. This is a very positive step – negotiations are the way forward, rather than ignoring the issue as has generally been the place in the past.

BBC News

Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 15:36 GMT
Talks planned over Elgin Marbles
The UK and Greece are to hold talks on the Parthenon sculptures, hundreds of which were cut from the temple by Lord Elgin and sold to the British Museum

“The best way of taking this forward is by way of discussions between the two cultural ministers,” Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said.

He spoke after he and Tony Blair discussed the issue with Greek foreign minister George Papandreou in London.

A new campaign began this month for the 2,500-year old sculptures to be united.


“We have our views,” said Mr Papandreou after Thursday’s meeting. Greece has called for years for the reunification of the marble sculptures – some of the finest artworks ever produced.

In places the frieze which ran round the temple on the Acropolis of Athens depicts five, six and seven horsemen riding almost abreast, in a depth of carving which never exceeds two and a quarter inches (six centimetres).

Lord Elgin’s agents stripped hundreds of sculptures from the Parthenon in 1801-2 and sold them to British Museum in 1816. Of the surviving items some 90 are in London and 97 in Athens – in many cases part of a figure is in London and part in Athens.

Mr Papandreou said the culture ministers would discuss the issue “soon”.

A campaign group, Marbles Reunited, began a fresh campaign for the Marbles’ return this month.

The Greek government is now offering to accept the London sculpures as a loan, sidestepping the issue of ownership, and combining them with those sculptures still in Greece in a specially built museum on the Acropolis.

The UK Government has always backed the British Museum, which inists that it is the best place for Lord Elgin’s marbles, and that its Trustees have a duty to hold them so as to secure maximum public benefit.

The Scotsman

Thu 22 Jan 2004
3:48pm (UK)
Straw Offers Help in Cyprus Dispute

By Jamie Lyons, Political Correspondent, PA News

Britain today offered ongoing help to solve the 30-year dispute between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said every effort must be made to reunify the island before it joins the European Union on May 1.

He was speaking after talks with Greece’s foreign minister George Papandreou in London.

Talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots over the island – partitioned in 1974 – have been in limbo for 10 months.

Mr Straw told reporters: “I very much hope progress can be made towards the reunification of Cyprus by May 1. Everybody wants a settlement and solution before Cyprus becomes a member of the EU. As ever the question is on what terms that settlement should take place.

“Our role and our duty is to assist the direct parties to the negotiations to come to a settlement if that is humanly possible.”

Cyprus’s Greek and Turkish communities have been separated since a Turkish invasion in 1974, triggered by a brief Greek Cypriot coup engineered by a military dictatorship in Greece.

Without a peace deal only the southern Greek Cypriot part of the island will effectively join the EU, a prospect which could complicate the accession hopes of Turkey.

Turkey, the only country that recognises a self-proclaimed Turkish republic in northern Cyprus, has its EU membership bid – which Britain supports – up for review in December.

Mr Straw and Mr Papandreou also discussed the protracted disagreement between London and Athens over the Elgin Marbles. Greece wants them returned ahead of this year’s Olympic Games in the country.

Mr Straw said he “understood and respected” the views of the Greek government and public. He said the best way to take the issue forward was by discussion between the two countries’ cultural ministers.

Mr Straw also praised the Greek government for the action it had taken against the terrorist group November 17, whose members murdered British diplomat Brigadier Stephen Saunders in Athens in June 2000.

Macedonian Press Agency

London, 22 January 2004 (15:47 UTC+2)

The Parthenon Marbles and the Cyprus issue were raised for discussion during the meeting Mr. Papandreou had with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London today.

Mr. Papandreou pointed out that he presented Greece’s position on the return of the marbles to the British Prime Minister, while he announced that a meeting between Greek Minister of Culture Evaggelos Venizelos and his British counterpart will take place on the same issue.

On the Cyprus issue, the Foreign Minister appreciated that the UK has shown a very great interest in the matter, especially after the “elections” on the occupied side of the island, while underlined out that a new momentum has been created, one that must be utilized.

Mr. Papandreou and Mr. Blair also discussed political developments in Greece. Later the Greek Foreign Minister met with his British counterpart Jack Straw, and in the afternoon he will depart for Germany, where he will meet with his German counterpart Joska Fischer.

Macedonian Press Agency

London, 22 January 2004 (11:36 UTC+2)

Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou is in London today, where he will have meetings with his UK counterpart Jack Straw and will be received by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr. Papandreou will discuss the Cyprus issue, where there has been increased mobility and Britain is the guarantor power, while he will also raise the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles, which the Greek side considers a major issue.

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