November 14, 2004
Following the change of government in Greece earlier this year, their has been some confusion about exactly what the position of the new government is regarding the return of the Elgin Marbles, as when in opposition they attempted to obstruct the construction of the New Acropolis Museum.
This press release helps to clarify the importance that the ND government place on the return of the sculptures to Greece.
The official Greek position on the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens
Interview excerpt Kostas Karamanlis, Prime Minister
“Culture is a social investment because the world needs values and humanity”
Journalist: Is it meaningful to continue the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles with the same passion, when the British appear negative toward our request, or would it be wiser to change our tactics and start negotiations in a different manner?
Prime Minister: The return of the Parthenon Marbles is a fair request of all the Greeks. It is a request of all the people, regardless of nationality, who visualise the reunification of a mutilated monument belonging to the world cultural heritage. We are dedicated to our goal, the return of the Marbles, and we shall remain so. We have persuasive arguments for our just cause. We feel optimistic that in the end, even the most doubtful will be convinced, and will change their attitude forward the matter. In the meantime, with the creation of the New Acropolis Museum, which is a real masterpiece in museological and architectural terms, we are strengthening our arguments even more.
‘Apogevmatini tis Kiriakis’, June 4th 2004
Petros Tatoulis, Deputy Minister of Culture
A monument with such universal brilliance as the Parthenon can only exist or be registered in the world collective memory as a whole. When its parts, which for various unfortunate historical reasons have been detached from their “umbilical cord”, are returned to the place which created them, to the sun which for centuries caressed their symmetrical harmony and to the ethereal aura, which for centuries has kept them immutable, this will remind us that the inspiration and the possibility of mankind to create and be in the vanguard is unlimited and diachronic.
The Parthenon Sculptures are not a multidimensional issue with a limited national significance. Even though the Attica sky was the first to cast eyes on them and for centuries was reflected in them, their greatness and their universal values make them belong to the world community. The Parthenon Sculptures form a cultural deposit for the global community of citizens. They inspire the universe with their diachronic meaning and their future preoccupies all the active and perceptive citizens of our planet.
Our country asks for the restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures to Attica as a spokesman for this priceless universal heritage, because we believe that in this way the Acropolis Rock will obtain after two centuries its full voice and substance again, which were taken away by force from it.
We are placing this request by “lending” our voice to the whole of the world community for the benefit of universal cultural balance. In order to prove first of all to ourselves and then to all who believe that our era cannot withstand grand objectives, that as long as there is a vision nothing has been lost.
We are asking for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to their birthplace and we have on our side the universal community, which seeks their reunification as something likely and expected. All of us, who are involved in this issue have the opportunity to prove that with good will we can achieve an understanding for the welfare of humanity.
With sobriety, measure of balance and realism we shall achieve our goal and the restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures to Attica will be a point of reference and the starting point for the future development of the 21st century.
An Interview given by Petros Tatoulis also helps to clarify his position on the New Acropolis Musem.
Ministry of Culture
The Deputy Minister of Culture, Mr Petros Tatoulis, and the General Secretary of the Ministry of Culture Mr Christos Zachopoulos, visited the Acropolis this morning, to be informed on the course of the works for the preservation and restoration of the monuments. After the end of the visit P. Tatoulis declared:
Tatoulis: We do want the return of the Parthenon Marbles and that the Acropolis obtains a contemporary museum for the presentation of its treasures. The important difference from the previous circumstances is that we are going to work with full respect of the laws and justice, and we shall not behave as enlightened monarchs. The Acropolis Museum will be built. It shall be built with full respect towards the nation, the laws and the proper procedures, because this is the “quid pro quo” of a law respecting government.
Journalist: Is the museum going to be built on Makrygianni site?
Tatoulis: I told you that the museum is going to be built exactly where it was planed in the logic and the perspective that we have placed. We believe that the improvisation for internal consumption, which was the tactic of the previous government, did not help at all but on the contrary, substantively missprogrammed every timetable on the construction of the New Acropolis Museum. The political will of the government is for the Acropolis Museum to be built
Journalist: How are you going to proceed with the International Competition? Is the Museum going to be built on the designs of Tschumi – Fotiadi?
Tatoulis: I was quite specific in what I have said.
Journalist: How did you evaluate the works here?
Tatoulis: Today, we visited with the General Secretary of the Ministry the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis. We are satisfied with the course of the works. We think that great effort has been put into them and we want to assure all Greek citizens that the public factors of the nation are working with one thing in focus: effectivity, diligence and proper interest of the citizens themselves. All things in our country are changing. In this effort the Ministry of Culture enters the battle first.
Journalist: What is the timetable of the works on the Acropolis?
Tatoulis: This is going to be announced by the Director.
Journalist: In answer to the statement of Mr Pangalos, who asked for your resignation, do you have any comment?
Tatoulis: I am sorry for Mr Pangalos’ statement. I believe that he has inaugurated his opposition in old fashioned way. I wouldn’t like to make any kind of comment. I believe that the new political culture has high demands. We all have to live up to the standards of our times and of the decision of the Greek people for a change in the political sector of our country.
- Tatoulis balks at Acropolis costs : December 12, 2004
- Acropolis restoration to complete by end of 2006 : July 20, 2005
- Petros Tatoulis’s response on the treatment of the Elgin Marbles : May 17, 2005
- 30 years of restoration work on Acropolis : July 21, 2005
- Meeting in Athens of committees for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures : November 24, 2005
- Heidelberg’s piece of the Parthenon : January 11, 2005
- Pangalos calls for resignation over Acropolis Museum lawsuit : March 24, 2004
- An international reunification committee : November 26, 2005