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British Museum snubs Greek calls for return of Elgin Marbles

Following renewed calls by the Greek Prime Minister [1] for the Elgin Marbles to be returned to Greece, the British Museum has responded predictably, stating that its position on the issue remains unchanged.

Agence France Presse [2]

British museum snubs new Greek call for Elgin Marbles
18 hours ago

The British Museum snubbed a new call for the return of the so-called Elgin Marbles to Athens Monday, saying its position over the disputed artefacts remains unchanged.

A spokeswoman praised the construction of a new Acropolis Museum, but rebuffed a call by the Greek prime minister that conditions are “ripe” for Britain to return the marbles.

“The Acropolis museum, although it’s a great achievement…doesn’t change the (London) museum’s position, because for us it’s never been about the display of the sculptures in Athens,” British Museum spokeswoman Hannah Boulton told AFP.

“The whole purpose, the fundamental purpose of the (British Museum is) to present all world cultures, to enable all those who come here or see the collections on loan around the world to experience and compare the civilisations.

“Therefore the trustees cannot return any object in that world collection,” she added.

The transfer of exhibits from the old Athens museum near the Parthenon to a new facility below the Acropolis is on course for completion at the end of January, with a room on the top floor reserved for the emotive artefacts.

Begun in 2003 and scheduled for public opening in 12 months’ time, the new building marks the centrepiece of a Greek campaign going back to 1982 to have the London government return the ancient materials.

Greek premier Costas Caramanlis, speaking during a visit to the Acropolis Museum site earlier in the day, said it was time for the marbles’ return.

“The conditions are now ripe, the demand for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to their rightful home (…) can and must become a reality for this generation.”

The British Museum in London, where they are on display, has always refused to repatriate the priceless friezes, ‘stolen’ in 1806 by Lord Elgin, British ambassador to the occupying Ottoman Empire of the time.

A committee representing 15 nations, the International Organisation for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, was established in November 2005 with members stepping up pressure on Britain to comply with the Greek request.