Showing 7 results for the tag: April 1st.

April 1, 2015

Leaked Tory manifesto hints at Parthenon Marbles return

Posted at 12:01 am in Elgin Marbles

The British Conservative Party under the leadership of David Cameron have over the last five years been consistent in their trenchant opposition to what they describe as “returnism“.

With the run up to the May general election however, things seem to have taken on a different approach. In leaked draft of the Tory manifesto being circulated on various websites, there is a section entitled repatriation of individuals and items highlights a number of new policies.

It starts making a clear grab for UKIP voters, stating that under a Conservative government, any EU migrants in the country who had claimed unemployment benefit for more than two months would be requested to leave the country. It also outlined other incentives to encourage foreign nationals to leave the country, including lump sum cash payments that can be taken only on the condition that they do not return to the UK for ten years.

The second part of this section however is more intriguing, not least as it completely contradicts many of the actions of the government during the previous five years. Under the subtitle A better reputation abroad for a better Britain at home, the document outlines how in the next term, the government hopes to sell off various state run museums to private operators, making them more efficient financially while at the same time freeing up money for other uses as part of their long term economic plan. It then goes on to explain how this process is currently complicated by the fact that private operators would be wary of purchasing any assets which contained items around which there are ownership disputes, such as the Parthenon Marbles and the Rosetta Stone. It states that a new entity called the British Institutions Non Governmental Organisation (BINGO) would assess the risk level of each item, and then work out a fair market value at which the item could be re-purchased by the nations that originally owned them.

Clearly anticipating the limited financial means of some of the countries from which the artefacts originate, the manifesto goes on to say that the re-purchase of any items of cultural property could be funded by loan agreements organised by the same companies taking over the management of the museums.

Now, while I have many reservations about the whole process and strong doubts about the likelihood of the government managing to implement these proposals fully, it does seem to indicate a clear shift in approach – that despite the recent rejection of UNESCO mediation, they are tacitly admitting that there is a problem which needs to be resolved.

I am strongly against the idea of selling artefacts back to their original owners, but there may always be scope for negotiation of the exact terms once more details of the proposal became available.

Various websites also have quotes from a number of official, responding to the news about these new proposals.

Pillory Sour from the Department of Culture Media and Sport has stated:

Despite my best efforts to convince the government that relinquishing any disputed artefacts from UK collections was a terrible idea, it appears that the one party we thought we could completely trust has decided to put profit ahead of prudence in their approach to the issue).

In a more carefully worded statement, Henna Biltong from the British Museum noted that:

While the British Museum has for many years aimed for a policy of zero leeway to returning artefacts, wee realise that a new look, more efficient institution could deliver profits for shareholders, while at the same time collecting interest from the purchase loans if many of these artefacts were returned. As such, we see it as a win-win scenario for the museum.

The Greek Government has yet to comment on this story.

Update:
As some have already spotted, today is of course April 1st. The Conservative Manifesto has yet to be published, but I doubt it has anything in it about returning cultural property, and hope that it will contain no extreme anti-immigration measures. Neither Pillory Sour or Henna Biltong exist, and any resemblance to real individuals with similar names is entirely coincidental. I am very much hoping that they have no plans to sell off Britain’s national museums to private operators, although nothing would surprise me.

April 2, 2014

Unfortunately, the previous post on UNESCO mediation was not accurate

Posted at 12:01 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

As many may have spotted, yesterday was April 1st. As a result of this, some of the items I posted, may not have been entirely accurate.

Much as I (and many others) want the British Government & British Museum to enter into the UNESCO mediation process, thus far, there has been nothing except silence from them.

I should also note that Pillory Dour & Henna Biltong are entirely fictional characters, and that any resemblance of them to people working for the British Government & British Museum is entirely coincidental.

So, to make the previous post become reality, more needs to be done to encourage the Government to accept the mediation request. At the moment, they are ignoring it, because they feel comfortable taking this course of action. So, write to your MP, raise awareness, publish stories publicising the lack of response, so that eventually they might feel more inclined to take action.

April 1, 2014

British Government agrees to UNESCO mediation for Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 12:01 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Last year, the Greek government made the announcement that they had approached UNESCO, about inviting the UK to enter into mediation over the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures. The Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Country of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation sets out a series of rules, that such mediation should follow, although the case of the Marbles would be the first time it had actually been implemented.

Many naysayers suggested that despite this new initiative by Greece, the British Government & British Museum would not consider entering into such a procedure, as there was nothing in the rules to compel them to do so and no time limit for them to reply to the request.

There was also the issue, that in all previous requests, the British Government pointed out that such requests were a matter to be dealt with by the trustees of the British Museum, whilst the trustees would point out that they would not be legally allowed to de-accession the sculptures, under the terms of the British Museum Act 1963.

Now, in what many involved with the case have suggested is an unexpected move, the British Government have responded to Greece’s minister of culture, indicating that they are happy to enter into mediation immediately. Under the UNESCO rules, the mandated timescale for the process to be completed in is one year, meaning that the issue of the Marbles could be resolved by 1st April next year, if not before.

The issues of the Marbles being a matter for the British Museum to determine were also noted by the government in their initial response, where they explained that whilst this has been the case in the past, it is really more of a political shorthand for noting that they are uninterested in resolving the issue, noting that as the museum is largely funded by the government, they do in fact have the ability to exert a large level of control over it & would do their utmost to ensure that the Museum was fully represented during the negotiations and to enforce whatever actions were agreed to at the end of the process.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Notice of intention to enter into mediation with an aim to swiftly resolve the Parthenon Marbles issue
April 01, 2014

The British Government would like to notify Greece that we have accepted their invitation to enter into mediation via UNESCO, over the issue of the Parthenon Marbles.

Previously issues have been raised over whether we had jurisdiction over the British Museum, and there are still many question marks over this. However, in the interests of progressing the resolution of this long standing embarrassment to the British people, we are jointly going to co-operate with the trustees.

We acknowledge that the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures are a unique case, and, as such we are happy to do whatever it might take to resolve the issue.

Further updates will be posted on our website in due course.

Pillory Dour
On behalf of the International Cultural Property Unit, Department of Culture, Media & Sport

From:
British Museum

British Museum agrees to Greek Mediation proposal
April 01, 2014

Following a request from the Department of Culture Media & Sport, the British Museum has agreed to work in partnership with the government to satisfy Greece’s requests for mediation over the Parthenon Marbles issue.

This is not a decision that we were able to take lightly, but we realise it was a move that we had to make. We have gradually come to understand that issues such as this are not going to go away, and accept that we need to make more effort to try & resolve them, in the interests of maintaining the current levels of co-operation with countries such as Greece.

Various surveys have shown that our continuing retention of the sculptures is out of sync with public opinion. For a long time, the trustees hoped that this was a one off blip in the statistics, but we are now resigned to the fact that our continued retention of the sculptures is hurting our public image as world class museum.

We with Greece the best of luck with the mediation, and over the next year, will be able to tell you more, as the process unfolds.

Henna Biltong
Head of Press, British Museum

April 1, 2012

British Museum blocks oil platform rescue operation because of Elgin Marbles connection

Posted at 9:42 am in Elgin Marbles

In 2010, the use of golf balls were one of the highly publicised techniques used to try & plug the leak of the BP‘s Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Following the gas leak that started a week ago on Total‘s Elgin platform in the North Sea, it has been proposed that similar methods are used.

Apparently, due to the far lower density of gas compared to crude oil, golf balls would not be suitable for such a procedure & it has been suggested that instead something much smaller should be used, such as glass or stone marbles. Sources at Total have however indicated that they have decided against trying this method, due to threats of legal action from the British Museum, which holds the copyright on the term Elgin Marbles.

In a carefully worded statement, Henna Biltong from the the British Museum’s press department noted that “While the term Elgin Marbles has not yet specifically been used in relation to the proposed operation to shut off the gas leak, it is felt likely that the press would pick up on the congruence of the terms & start using that term to describe it.” they also pointed out that while they no longer use the term Elgin Marbles to describe the sculptures in their collection, they still hold the sole usage rights to this term. They also feel that overuse of the phrase will weaken the British Museum’s brand within the glocal marketplace. “Its a similar situation to when to google becomes a generic term for searching, or when biro becomes used to describe any rollerball pen, only in this case the effect works in reverse”.

Once again, this seems to be a case of the British Museum acting against the public interest, and being deliberately obstructive. Some experts in the art world have suggested that the threats of legal action stem from animosity with Total, because it is a French company & that during the nineteenth century, many of the best artefacts ended up being taken by Napoleon (and are now held in the Louvre’s collection), before the English had a chance to get there. There is also speculation that the British Museum is hoping to increase its income through charging royalties for such copyrighted terms, following government funding cuts in the last year.

Experts in constitutional affairs have also suggested that the museum could well be worried by the impact of proposed Scottish devolution plans & may be trying to re-brand itself as an English rather than British Museum. Such a move would be weakened by any events that might remind people of the Scottish connections of some of the artefacts in their collection.

The British Museum has declined to comment further on the issue.

As April 1st has now passed, it must be pointed out that most of the story above is entirely fictional, although many bits of it are inspired by facts.

April 1, 2010

Greek soverign debt hedge fund intends to purchase Elgin Marbles from British Museum

Posted at 10:18 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

In an unexpected piece of news today, a hedge fund that has taken on responsibility for much of Greece’s national debt, is hoping to negotiate a purchase of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum to add to its asset portfolio.

From:
Hedgefunds Review

Greek government in sovereign debt hedge fund deal
Author: Margie Lindsay
Source: Hedge Funds Review | 01 Apr 2010

London, April 1, 2010 – EXCLUSIVE – In a bold and unexpected move the Greek government has transferred its entire sovereign debt into three hedge fund vehicles. A further fund will receive Greek ancient monuments and a fifth ownership of several holiday islands in the Mediterranean, Hedge Funds Review has learned.

The hedge funds, all to be domiciled in the Cayman Islands, will pursue a number of strategies ranging from distressed debt to activist, according to sources close to the deal.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 1, 2009

The Early Day Motion that wasn’t

Posted at 10:15 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, Marbles Reunited

Following being the first website to cover Andrew George’s Early Day motion on the Stonehenge megaliths in Greece, it appears that the motion could not be tabled because it did not meet the requirement to have a “reasonable factual basis”.

The press release from Andrew George’s office explains this in more detail.

ANDREW GEORGE MP
HOUSE OF COMMONS
LONDON SW1A 0AA

PRESS RELEASE
Wednesday 1st April 2009
For immediate release

COMMONS HAS SENSE OF HUMOUR BYPASS

Andrew George, MP for the West Cornwall and Isle of Scilly Constituency of St. Ives, has expressed disappointment that parliamentary rules disallowed his proposed Commons motion as tabled last night to be published this morning, Wednesday 1st April 2009. The motion read:
Read the rest of this entry »

Early Day Motion on the Stone Henge fragments in Greece

Posted at 12:17 am in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

The recent discovery of what are thought to be some of the missing megaliths from Stone Henge has been covered extensively in the Greek media during the last week. The stones were found at a site (the location of which is being kept secret whilst a full archaeological study is being carried out) in the Peloponnese. It is thought that they were taken from Britain during Roman times, whilst Greece was also part of the Roman Empire.

What has caused particular controversy in the UK, is the Greeks current refusal to consider returning these stones which are believed to have been an integral part of Britain’s most important historic monument.

Andrew George MP has today tabled an Early Day Motion to gauge the opinions of other MPs on the issue. Previous posts on EDMs explain the purpose of Early Day Motions in the House of Commons.

From:
Parliamentary Information Management Web Site

The Return of the Stonehenge Megaliths from Greece

That this House is euphoric about the news of the discovery of many of the missing megaliths from Stonehenge in a remote and mountainous area of the Peloponnese Peninsula in Greece to where they were taken to build an amphitheatre; considers this to be the single most important discovery in British archaeology for more than a century; yet is astounded at the brazen effrontery of the Greek authorities who have scandalously refused their return to Britain where they rightly belong; believes the Greeks have attempted to defend their decision with the kind of shameless and preposterous poppycock of an ancient colonial power; calls on the Greeks to put right the wrongs of their forefathers during that shameful period of ancient Greek imperial history; and asks HM Government on the day of the announcement of this find, April 1st 2009, to answer the extraordinary Greek claim that there is no difference between this and the holding by the British Museum of the Parthenon Marbles.

This follow-up article has more details.