Jim Egan is director of Ferrumar, a marine exploration company and has had a long standing interest in the case of the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles and how it might be resolved.
He recently forward me this piece outlining some of the recent interventions that he has made, along with his thoughts on how the resolution of the issue might be expedited.
The corner of the Parthenon pediment
Jim Egan (via email)
Greece should not abandon its principles – or its relics
Perplexed am I over Greece’s consistent failure to remedy its ancient problems, whether in small steps or creative ways.
One method for resolving the Parthenon Marbles puzzle involves sidestepping, at least temporarily, the morass of moral claims and legal principles (Financial Times, “Judgment is not set in stone”, Tiffany Jenkins, Life & Arts, February 12) over whether or not the British Museum rightfully owns the Parthenon Marbles in its collection.
David Critchley’s subsequent Letter to the Financial Times (“Restore the Parthenon with replica statues”, February 27) plots the optimum course. Coincidentally, six years ago my firm offered the Greeks that same solution so as to help relieve their understandable agony over the long-missing Marbles still residing in multiple out-of-context non-Greek locations. Read the rest of this entry »
Private citizens’ association sues Britain at European Court of Human Rights for Parthenon Marbles
18/ 02/ 2016
Last update: 14:05
A private citizen’s group called the “Athenians’ Association” said on Thursday they filed a lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights against the United Kingdom over the removal of the Parthenon Marbles by Lord Elgin in the 19th century, the association said in a press conference in Plaka on Thursday.
The association, which opened in 1895 and among whose aims is to research the history of Athens and help preserve of its cultural monuments, said the decision was taken after its board was informed about Britain’s refusal to participate in a mediation procedure, as part of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Goods in the Country of Origin. Read the rest of this entry »
A lawsuit is being brought in the European Court of Human Rights over the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. The case is being brought by The Athenian Association, an Athens based organisation chaired by Eleftherios C. Skiadas, the vice mayor of Athens.
This case is interesting, as it is happening outside of the remit of the Greek Government, although it is unclear what knowledge the government has of the process. The Athenian Association were prompted to take action following the rejection of UNESCO mediation prior to the prorogation of Parliament in 2015.
It will be interesting to find out more details of this case in due course, in particular what arguments they are basing their case on.
APPEAL OF THE «ATHENIANS’ ASSOCIATION» BEFORE THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS FOR THE ACROPOLIS SCULPTURES
The historical “Athenians’ Association” (Syllogos ton Athinaion), which celebrated 120 years of existence this year (1895-2015), instituted proceedings at the European Court of Human Rights against the United Kingdom regarding the Acropolis Sculptures. The natives of the Greek capital set out the array of violations to their human rights regarding the cultural treasures of their city, characterised by Paul the Apostle as the «devotions of the Athenians». Indeed, this is the sole case worldwide of a UNESCO World Heritage Monument (1987) being despoiled through the removal of structural elements, such as the metopes and sculptures of the Parthenon.
Among the statutory objectives of the “Athenians’ Association”, special mention is made to “the making provision for the preservation and conservation of the monuments, works of art, etc., linked to the history of Athens”. Its founding members comprised descendants of the Athenians who stood up against the despoilment of the Parthenon by Lord Elgin. Besides, one of the very first actions undertaken by the Association was an event organised in 1896 to commemorate the liberation of the Acropolis from the Ottoman Turks and during which its deputy chairman, professor Theodossios Benizelos (1821-1900) mentioned that the Parthenon was a place of daily worship, the holy of holies, a life good for our ancestors and that the Athenians strongly protested against the despoilment of the Acropolis’ extant statues by Elgin. Read the rest of this entry »
Greek Politics is always intriguing to an outsider. I am whether there is any substance to this decision to strike legal action off the list of possible options for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, or whether there is a sensible basis behind it.
No doubt, in due course, more will be revealed, but I feel that it is a great shame to write off methods of retrieving the sculptures, that have yet to be fully explored, while planning to repeat other methods that have been tried before and failed.
Greece is no longer mulling court action to win back the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum in London, Culture Minister Aristides Baltas said Tuesday, adding that the government would kick-start a diplomatic campaign to repatriate the 5th century BC statues.
Questioned by MPs during a session of Parliament’s education committee, Baltas said that the government was unwilling to put forward a legal claim “most importantly because we risk losing the case.” Read the rest of this entry »
George Zach – Greek Tragedy
Comedy – 15 Nov, 16 Nov at Museum of Comedy
George is a Greek comedian living in the UK. Has appeared in all of the biggest clubs in the UK, as well as on BBC1’s This Week (twice) and The One Show.
In the UK his mates say he’s too Greek, but he’s not Greek enough for his parents abroad; he’s trying to fit in in a world he believes to be more stupid than him. Also, he is dodging his national service. Read the rest of this entry »
Despite assertions made in many new sources in May, it was generally left unreported, that the legal team from Doughty Street Chambers (Geoffrey Robertson and Amal Clooney) along with Norman Palmer had in fact not delivered their final report to Greece.
This document has now been completed and delivered to Greece. Hopefully it will be given full consideration by the government, possibly leading to a new policy announcement later in the year. I look forward to hearing more in due course about the detail of what has been proposed and any recommendations made.
Legal opinion on status of Parthenon Marbles delivered to Greece
04.08.15 | Amal Clooney, Geoffrey Robertson QC
Yesterday, The Greek Ministry of Culture confirmed that it received the legal opinion of Geoffrey Robertson QC, Norman Palmer QC and Amal Clooney regarding the Parthenon Sculptures in the possession of the British Museum.
It should be noted that between 13-15 May various news outlets including the Daily Mail the New York Times, the Telegraph, the Washington Post, the BBC, and the Daily Beast published stories falsely asserting that Mrs Clooney and her colleagues had delivered a 150-page joint legal report earlier that week advising the Greek Government to take legal action and that this advice was expressly rejected by the Greek government. Certain articles even purported to quote the legal advice from the alleged 150-page report. Read the rest of this entry »
Acropolis Visitors Get Wi-Fi Access
By Anastassios Adamopoulos –
Aug 6, 2015
The ancient Athenian site just got an important contemporary update to its environment.
Professors, researchers and students of educational institutions around the world will now have access to the internet upon their visits to the Acropolis. The new option is available thanks to a global roaming access service for members of educational institutions called Eduroam. Read the rest of this entry »
Greece’s Acropolis Museum Celebrates Sixth Anniversary with Samothrace Antiquities
by Ioanna Zikakou
Jun 13, 2015
The Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, will celebrate its sixth anniversary on June 20 with the inauguration of its temporary exhibition “Samothrace. The mysteries of the great gods.”
The exhibition, a cooperation of the Acropolis Museum and the Antiquity Ephorates of the Rodopi and Evros prefectures, as well as Samothrace antiquities expert Dimitris Matsas, will open for the public on June 20 and will run until September 30.
262 artifacts from the Samothrace Archaeological Museum will travel to Athens, some of which will leave the island for the first time.
Greek Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis has announced that the country is considering raising the admission fees for Archaeological sites.
In many ways, it is a shame that more of the archaeological sites and museums in Greece aren’t given more autonomy to set their own charges. As far as I am aware, the Acropolis Museum is the only state run institution with any real control over its own budget. As this worked fairly well (the museum has never closed due to strikes), I would have thought that other locations in the country ought to have also transferred to a similar model.
A new ticketing system sounds great (in theory), although Greece has never had the massive waits in queues that every site in Rome seems to. The focus here seems to be more ass using it as an excuse to increase charges than anything else.
Greece: Athens mulling hikes to ticket prices at museums
18 May, 16:11
Greece’s Culture Ministry has appointed a team of experts that are amining a change in the price structure of tickets to enter Greek museums and archaeological sites, Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis revealed on Monday as Kathimerini online reports. In a response to a question in Parliament, Xydakis said the panel would be examining schemes implemented in other countries and would not be proposing an across-the-board increase in ticket prices.
Xydakis added that the government will also introduce tickets giving access to multiple sites and museums. He said that a new ticketing system would be introduced at the Acropolis from June and would then be extended to the next 59 most popular sites and museums. The minister also indicated that the ministry would like to make greater commercial use of Greece’s heritage via the Internet, including offering more merchandise
Disclaimer – I am not Greek, so everything I am writing below might be a load of rubbish. Similarly, I know that in Britain, there are many enlightened individuals, who understand the issues surrounding the Parthenon Marbles and want to see them returned to Athens.
One thing that I noticed while conducting this survey, much of which was done over Twitter, was that many of those who are against the return of the sculptures did not really understand what the issue meant to the Greeks. Not only were there those who dismissed the issue as unimportant and not worth worrying about, but others who merely responded that they were quite happy with the current situation and saw no need to change it. Still more spoke out against return of the sculptures, but when asked further questions realised that they did not actually know many of the details of the case.
All too often, the British press love to portray restitution requests by Greece as nationalistic tub-thumping – something that amounts to its critics as little more than petulant whining having changed their mind over a past decision. Hopefully those reading this website have a more enlightened view, but it does not take long reading the comments below many press articles, to find this flawed understanding is all too common.
A big part of the problem is that we only see the situation through our own eyes – we feel that as we are happy with it, that anyone who wants to change it is disruptive. We do not even attempt to look at the story through the eyes of a Greek – how they feel every time we think about it. The fact that many see the case as too insignificant to have opinions about compounds the issue – the Parthenon Sculptures really do not mean that much to the average person in Britain, whereas from a Greek perspective, the emotion attached to the case is very different.
George Zacharopoulos is a Greek comedian based in the North East of England. Some of his shows contain a sketch on the Parthenon Marbles – which while good for its amusement value alone, does offer a good way of starting to understand how their story is perceived by many in Greece. Looking at the situation in a different way helps to understand just how galling it feels to Greeks to hear mealy mouthed commentators trying to argue that rather than complaining, Greece should be thanking Britain for looking after the sculptures for them.
In the meantime, you can see a clip off him talking about the Parthenon Marbles here (Start watching 6:20 into the clip). He tells me that he has since further developed that part of the act, so it is longer than what you can see here.
Watch the video, and remember to see him while he’s in London if you are able to.
Text of the original press statement by Greek Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis, clarifying the earlier comments about potentially taking legal action over the Parthenon Marbles.
As I already said, it is a great shame that more has not been made of this clarification, or that a more detailed statement was not made sooner. Many newspapers in the UK have already been spinning the original story as the campaigning for the Parthenon Marbles being over – that Britain was acknowledging Britain’s legitimate ownership of the sculptures. This was never the case – not in the original statement and definitely not in this one. This is not an issue that will go away, much as certain elements within Britain might wish that to be the case.
I have given the text as an automatically translated version, with the original Greek below.
05/14/2015 A journalist’s question about the Greek government’s strategy regarding the claim of the Parthenon Marbles, the if. Minister of Culture Mr. Nikos Xydakis made the following statement:
The legal advice is extremely useful and reinforce the arguments of Greece for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, but the Greek government has never stated its commitment in the near future to follow the court proceedings.
Possibly, Greece did not realise how much the world’s press would seize on the relatively brief remarks made by culture Minister Nikos Xydakis regarding plans not to take legal action.
Whilst many newspapers have been busy printing stories some of which are mainly conjecture, based on a few lines from a speech, the Greek government were already backtracking, emphasising that they were not writing off the idea of legal action – but that it was just one of many avenues open to them that they were exploring.
So – we read from this, that Greece is not committed to opening legal proceedings in the immediate future, but the idea is still on the table for potential use at a later point in time.
One must go back though to the original statement a few days before – that Greece must “use it or loose it”. They might not have all the time in the world to wait before taking legal action.
I am disappointed to see that very few news sources outside Greece have chose to cover this retraction of the original story – continuing to go to town on the original news, despite the fact that it is no longer correct.
Greek Culture Ministry: Legal Action is One of Many Options Available for Parthenon Marbles’ Repatriation
May 15, 2015
Seeking legal action is only one of the options available to Greece on the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles, Alternate Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis said on Thursday, following his statement on Wednesday that the government will not sue the British Museum on the issue.
Asked about Greece ’s strategy on the issue, the minister said: “Legal opinions are extremely useful and reinforce Greece ’s arguments for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, but the Greek government has never stated it is committed to initiating court proceedings in the near future.” Read the rest of this entry »