May 25, 2007

Official Australian support for the return of Elgin Marbles

Posted at 1:05 pm in Elgin Marbles

More coverage of the statement by John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister about his support for the reunification of the surviving Parthenon Sculptures in Athens.

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Thursday May 24, 2007
Karamanlis signs pension deal with Australia
Greek PM seeks support on Marbles

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Australian counterpart John Howard yesterday signed a deal granting tens of thousands of Greek Australians who have returned to Greece access to medical benefits and an Australian pension.

“I believe we will resolve an issue which has been pending for decades,” Karamanlis said in Canberra, adding that “at least 60,000 ethnic Greeks will benefit directly.”

Karamanlis and Howard also discussed bilateral trade and education links and reaffirmed the strong relationship between their nations, forged during World War II. Howard stressed “the very deep ties that exist between Australia and Greece.”

Karamanlis sought Howard’s support for Athens’s ongoing efforts to secure the return to Greece of the Parthenon Marbles, currently in the British Museum. Howard said he had discussed the issue many times with British Prime Minister Tony Blair but stopped short of explicitly expressing support for Greece’s efforts. “Ultimately it is a bilateral matter between Greece and the United Kingdom,” he said. Karamanlis subsequently told reporters, “It’s a matter of reunification of a very important monument of global dimension.” “We will not spare any effort to communicate with all our friends in government, but also to the people, to reach a satisfactory solution,” he said. Earlier this week, Morris Iemma, the premier of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, backed Greece’s efforts to retrieve the Marbles.

Karamanlis and Howard also discussed international issues, including Turkey’s bid to join the European Union and Greece’s dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) regarding the latter’s official name. Karamanlis expressed his gratitude for Australia’s support on “priority issues for Greek foreign policy,” including the problem with FYROM. It was unclear what comments Australian officials had made on the issue.

Meanwhile in Athens, Karamanlis’s office revealed that the Greek premier would be traveling to Istanbul on June 25 to attend a Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) summit. “Nothing else has been planned,” a government aide said when asked whether Karamanlis would have talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit. However a source yesterday told Kathimerini that Karamanlis had telephoned Erdogan recently and discussed a range of issues. According to the source, Karamanlis expressed Athens’s desire to cooperate to ensure stability in the broader region and also reiterated Greece’s support for Ankara’s bid to join the EU. Greece’s PM also reportedly expressed his conviction that the current pre-electoral period in Turkey would not influence Greek-Turkish relations.

Athens News Agency

Greece, Australia sign all-important bilateral social security agreement


Talks with Howard

During talks between Karamanlis and Howard, special mention was made of the dynamic presence of the ethnic Greek community in Australia and the central role it plays in preserving and strengthening the bonds between the two countries, while emphasis was also placed on progress in bilateral relations in the economy, trade and the educational sector.

The two prime ministers further discussed European Union enlargement, Turkey’s EU accession course, Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue.

Karamanlis stressed that Greece appreciated Australia’s stance on Greek foreign policy issues of priority, and particularly on the FYROM name issue.

Howard called Karamanlis a “personal friend”, and expressed satisfaction over their discussion.

To a question on Greece’s campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum and Australia’s stance, Howard noted that for many years he has repeatedly taken up this matter with the British prime minister, but added that, “in the final analysis, it is an issue that concerns Greece and Britain”.

Karamanlis added that the issue “is not only a Greek demand”. He explained that it was an “issue of reunification of a very important monument of global import”, adding that “we must continue our efforts with all our friends and with all the governments”.

“We must all unite our voices for the return of the cultural inheritance of the Parthenon,” Karamanlis said.


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1 Comment »

  1. Maudie Ashton said,

    01.15.17 at 8:53 am

    As an Australian of English heritage, and a resident of Greece for 6 years (yes, during Kyria Mercurie’s time) I would urge that sanity prevail and the Elgin plunder be returned to its rightful place in Athens. There is no argument any more for ‘curatorship’ to protect these architectural and sculptural pieces from the ‘toxic’ Athenian pollution. Have you seen the fabulous museum and the wonderful work going on at the Parthenon?! No more excuses, please. Return to Greece the things that belong to Greece. How can England defend the theft of Greece’s heriage any longer? Shameful exploitation of another culture’s history and identity!

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