January 29, 2008

Stelios Haji-Ioannou to support Elgin Marbles Campaign

Posted at 11:50 am in Elgin Marbles

EasyJet’s founder, the prominent Greek Cypriot businessman Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has stepped forward in support of the work of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.

Daily Telegraph

EasyJet founder joins fight to return Elgin Marbles to Athens
By Chris Hastings, Arts and Media Editor
Last Updated: 2:09am GMT 28/01/2008

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the tycoon behind easyJet, has thrown his weight behind the campaign to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece.

The 40-year-old Greek Cypriot, whose business empire includes a cruise line, bus company and hotel chain, has pledged his support to the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.

“Stelios has approached the campaign to see how he can become involved. He feels very strongly about the issue,” a source at the committee said.

The relics – more than half of the surviving Parthenon sculptures – are a politically sensitive issue for both Britain and Greece and the intervention of someone so well-connected is likely to cause controversy.

The 2,500-year-old marbles were removed from the Parthenon by the 7th Earl of Elgin, the former British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, between 1802 and 1812, and sold to the British government.

Critics of the removal have called it the “greatest theft in history”.

The British Museum, which houses the collection, is opposed to any return of the marbles, but successive Greek governments, who regard the marbles as a symbol of national pride, refused to give up the battle.

Mr Haji-Ioannou, who is worth £725million, said his easyCruise business was sponsoring a debate about the Marbles, organised by the committee, at Cambridge University next month.

He declined to comment further.

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