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Does Greece claim ownership of the Elgin Marbles?

In what could be seen as a big step forward, Greece has agreed that the ownership of the Parthenon Marbles is an area that is still up for discussion in any negotiations about their return.

This point has traditionally been a major sticking point, with the British Museum claiming ownership & Greece refusing to accept this, so that the discussions do not move on beyond this one issue.

Kathimerini (English Edition) [1]

Tuesday August 12, 2003
Ownership of Marbles still open, Greece says

In a new sign of how wide the gap is between Athens and London regarding the ownership of the British Museum’s Elgin Collection of sculptures from the Parthenon, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos denied yesterday that it had renounced ownership of the fifth-century BC sculptures.

«As nuances are very important, I must repeat that the Greek government has never stated it recognizes the British Museum’s legal title to the Parthenon Marbles,» Venizelos said. «What we have said is that we do not raise the legal issue of ownership, as we wish to find a friendly and consensual solution that will allow a joint exhibition of the Marbles in the new Acropolis Museum.»

On Sunday, British Museum director Neil MacGregor claimed Greece «no longer disputes ownership» of the works. He once again denied the existence of secret talks on a possible loan to Athens for the 2004 Olympics.

Macedonian Press Agency [2]

Athens, 11 August 2003 (17:29 UTC+2)

Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos pointed out that the Greek government has never stated that it recognizes the British Museum title deeds over the Parthenon Marbles.

Mr. Venizelos made the statement on the occasion of a letter by British Museum Director Neil MacGregor published on “The Sunday Times” yesterday.

The Greek Culture Minister also stated that he is not raising a legal issue over the ownership of the Parthenon Marbles hoping that an amicable settlement will be reached.