November 6, 2014
Reading some of this article feels a bit like history repeating itself. Back in late 2002, when Evangelos Venizelos was Culture Minister, he presented the UK with a summary of the limitations of Greece’s demands for the Marbles, along with what they might expect to receive in return. In effect, what he came up with was a win-win situation, although the British Museum refused to recognise it as such.
Many changes of government later, after being finance minister during possibly the toughest of times during the unravelling of the Greek debt crisis, Venizelos is now Deputy Prime Minister in the current coalition government. He has take the opportunity of announcing loans of artefacts to an exhibition in Canada, as an opportunity to re-iterate these demands. This is great news, as for many years, there was no clear offer on the table & there was much speculation in the absence of a new offer, as to whether the old one was still valid. What Venizelos describes here sounds remarkable similar – if anything more flexible (perpetual loan, rather than a series of separate short term loans).
As a separate point, in the past, I have highlighted that Greece has never really withdrawn cooperation from Britain to put pressure on them in the way that other countries (notably Iran) have tried to, to secure artefact returns. From what Venizelos describes though, it seems that the deal with Canada could be the evidence of a similar sort of strategy. Greece will not stop cooperating with Britain – but it will offer greater levels of cooperation to other countries wanting to organise temporary exhibitions etc.
Greece hopes exhibit at Museum of History will help free Elgin Marbles from Britain
Published on: November 3, 2014Last Updated: November 3, 2014 1:30 PM EST
ATHENS • Greece hopes a blockbuster exhibit coming to the Canadian Museum of History next year will boost its argument for repatriating the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum, foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos said Monday.
In an act the Greeks have long characterized as looting, British diplomat Lord Elgin removed about half of the surviving classical Greek sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens between 1801 and 1812 and shipped them to Britain.
The British government purchased the artifacts in 1816 and passed them to the British Museum in London, where they remain on display to this day.
In a meeting with Canadian journalists and officials from the Canadian Museum of History, Venizelos was asked if Greece’s willingness to allow more than 500 rare artifacts to travel to Canada and the United States was partly a tactic to ramp up pressure on the British to return the long-sought sculptures.
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