November 27, 2005

New initiatives in support of the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 7:05 pm in Acropolis, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Last Friday, heads of many of the international committees for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles met together in Athens. It was the first time such an event had been organised & that so many of the committees had met together.
Early in the day, a number of decisions were taken by the twelve committees present. The most important decision taken was to form an International Committee – essentially an umbrella organisation of which all the national committees are members. This international committee (name yet to be decided) will, amongst other things, help to co-ordinate the efforts of the various committees (fifteen at present) to avoid unnecessary duplication of their efforts etc.
A second decision taken was to make a declaration of support for the reunification of the sculptures – a statement on which all the member organisations were agreed, that represents the basic essence of their intentions & purpose.

Whilst in Athens, the campaigners also met with Karolos Papoulias (the president of the Hellenic Republic) & Kostas Karamanlis (the prime minister of the Hellenic Republic) as well as discussing the issue in detail with Petros Tatoulis, the deputy minister of Culture.

Below follow various articles covering this meeting.

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Saturday November 26, 2005
‘Moral duty’ to bring Parthenon Marbles back home


President Karolos Papoulias yesterday received the members of 12 international committees for the return of the Parthenon Marbles in Greece at the invitation of Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, who accompanied them to the Presidential Palace. Papoulias thanked them for their «generous effort.» «The Elgin Marbles were seized during a period of history where the strong had the power of life and death over the weak. Now that time has passed. Now we serve other moral values and I believe that it is a moral duty to bring those treasures of Greek civilization back to their homeland… It is not an easy battle,» Papoulias said. «We have to give answers to people who pretend they don’t understand certain things that are very clear. However, I believe that international moral order will prevail and that we will all celebrate together at a later date, when the Elgin Marbles come home.» Honorary Professor Anthony Snodgrass, president of the British Committee for the Return of the Marbles, noted that representatives of 15 countries were present. «Who would believe that there would be organizations dedicated to the return of the Parthenon Marbles in 15 different countries?» he asked. «We are particularly grateful for this meeting here under the Parthenon which we will visit, along with the New Acropolis Museum now under construction.» David Hill, member of the Australian committee, emphasized that the committees’ goal was to increase the pressure on the British to allow the Marbles to take their rightful place alongside those still in Athens. It was a pleasure to see Eleni Cubitt, film director and wife of the founder of the British committee, as optimistic as ever. Christopher Price, a journalist and former Labour MP, was more reserved. After his meeting earlier with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, he said there was not much hope for «rapid developments.» He had the impression that the government would not take advantage of the opportunity during Britain’s current presidency of the European Union, to ask for the Marbles, here and now. Archaeologist Anna Marangou, president of the Cypriot committee, added, «The issue has gone the same way as the Cyprus issue.»

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Saturday November 26, 2005 – Archive

Sacred rock to survive showers

The foundations of Athens’s ancient Parthenon are not under threat from water seeping into its rock base, Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis said yesterday.

He was responding to a warning issued on Wednesday by Manolis Korres – a key figure in the Parthenon’s restoration project – that rainwater is seeping through a temporary floor installed inside the monument for restoration work and could eventually weaken its foundations. (Korres’s comments followed several days of heavy rain in the capital.)

But Tatoulis countered that restoration experts had tested the Parthenon’s potential for erosion or subsidence in the early 1980s and concluded that its foundations were able to withstand the ravages of the environment. «There is absolutely no danger at this time,» the minister said.

Also yesterday, Tatoulis toured the site of the new Acropolis Museum with representatives from 12 countries who are backing Greece’s bid for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, currently housed in the British Museum in London. The campaigners also met Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who also serves as culture minister, and President Karolos Papoulias.

«It is not an easy battle… But I believe that international moral order will prevail and the day will come when we will all celebrate the Marbles’ return,» Papoulias told the campaigners.

Athens News Agency

President, PM meet heads of worldwide campaign for Parthenon Marbles’ return

President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday received presidents and members of 12 committees in foreign countries that are campaigning for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

The representatives of the various groups announced plans to create a single worldwide organisation for the return of the priceless statues, also known as the Elgin Marbles, that are held at the British Museum in London. The statues on display in the British Museum actually formed part of the sculpted frieze of the Parthenon – which was a structural rather than decorative element of the building – that were removed by Lord Elgin in the 19th century and transported to England when Greece was still under Ottoman rule.

After the meeting, Papoulias thanked them for their “valiant efforts” and stressed that the Parthenon Marbles were “the victims of plunder, in a period of history when the strong had the power of life and death over the weak”.

The world now served other values and there was a moral obligation to return the treasures of Greek civilisation to their home, he added.

The head of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles Anthony Snodgrass noted that there are currently 15 organisations throughout the world that are striving for the Marbles’ return.

The visiting delegation was accompanied by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, who later took them on a tour of the Acropolis.

Earlier on Friday, Tatoulis was also present at a meeting between the delegation and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, where he thanked them for their efforts and stressed the great interest of the Greek side in their return.

Macedonian Press Agency

Athens, 25 November 2005 (13:20 UTC+2)
Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias expressed the wish that the world moral rule will prevail and some day will celebrate the return of the Elgin Marbles. He expressed the wish during the reception of the presidents and members of twelve International Committees for the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece.

Not only the British Committee but all the Committees, through the Ministry of Culture, have achieved something that will be preserved this way for ever. A bond that will survive until we meet at the new Museum of the Acropolis to celebrate the return of the Marbles, stated British Committee vice-president Christopher Price.

The Guardian

Official Says Parthenon Safe From Seepage
Friday November 25, 2005 9:46 PM
AP Photo ATH102
Associated Press Writer

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Athens’ ancient Parthenon is not under threat from water seeping into rock beneath it, despite successive days of torrential rainfall this week, an official said Friday.

“There is absolutely no danger,” said Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis.

No water was escaping through a temporary floor installed inside the Parthenon for restoration work, he said.

Architect Manolis Korres, a key figure in the massive restoration project at the 2,500-year-old monument that sits atop the Acropolis, had warned Wednesday that rainwater was gradually draining into rock underneath the Parthenon and could eventually weaken the monument’s foundations.

Athens and other parts of Greece have been battered by storms and heavy rainfall this week, which caused flooding, limited power cuts, disrupted transport services and caused the death of one woman in southern Greece.

Also Friday, Tatoulis toured the site of a new Acropolis Museum with campaigners from 12 countries seeking the return of sculptures removed from the Acropolis 200 years ago and housed at the British Museum in London.

The 215,000-square foot glass and concrete museum, designed by U.S.-based architect Bernard Tschumi and Greece’s Michael Photiades, is due to be completed by the end of 2006.

It will replace a small museum on the Acropolis and is designed to house the British Museum collection – also known as the Elgin Marbles.

“This new museum will weaken the arguments presented … by the British Museum,” Tatoulis said. “We will make every effort to achieve our goal. It’s not a national issue, the sculptures are part of world heritage.”

At a small exhibition area next to the museum site, copies of the Elgin Marbles are being displayed, in dimmed light, behind directly lit genuine sculptures.

The campaigners – from Britain, New Zealand, the United States, Australia, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Serbia-Montenegro, Spain, Cyprus, Russia and German – were received Friday by President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis.

They announced plans to coordinate their activities as a single body to be called the International Organization for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.

“The problem is the obstinacy of the British Museum … there are many ways this could be negotiated if we were dealing with someone who would negotiate,” British campaigner Anthony Snodgrass said.

“We are no longer confronting the British Museum but surrounding them,” Snodgrass said. “We’ve enlisted many of their former allies, who now support us.”

On the Net:

British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles:

Macedonian Press Agency

Melbourne, 30 November 2005 (13:50 UTC+2)

Australia is leading an international effort for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens from London’s British Museum.

The move is promoted by part of the Australian media offering significant coverage to the meeting held in Athens with the participation of heads of different Committees for the Return of the Marbles and the consequent establishment of a World Committee for the same purpose.

The move for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens has the support of the federal government, the state governments and most of the political and literary world in Australia.

The interest of the Australian media is heightened because the effort is headed by most talked about Australian David Hill who is married to a Greek Australian and has occupied very important positions in the professional arena. Among others, he was the general director of the Australian Radio and Television (ABC) and the president of the Australian Football Federation.

Also, the Australian news agency (AAP) mentions that Australia will head an international effort for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens from the British Museum in London.

The Australian

28 November 2005

Playing with marbles

DAVID Hill has had his fair share of tough jobs, from boss of the ABC to chairman of Soccer Australia and trying to get the trains to run on time as chief executive of the old NSW State Rail Authority. His latest venture? He’s been installed as president of a 15-nation organisation trying to convince the British Government to surrender the Elgin Marbles, now in the British Museum, to their rightful Greek owners, who plan to put them on display in the refurbished Acropolis Museum in Athens. Strewth would never suggest Hill has lost his marbles, just that he seems to have a penchant for Sisyphean tasks. Sisyphus was the legendary Greek king who was sentenced to endlessly roll a huge boulder to the top of a mountain in Hades, only to have it roll down again.


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