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Why Greece should be trusted to look after the Elgin Marbles

Following the London launch of the Marbles Reunited [1] campaign. the present Lord Elgin is stating that the Greeks can not be trusted to protect their heritage. This view is not only xenophobic, suggesting that only the British are capable of looking after such artefacts, but also ignores the reasons behind things that have happened in the past, merely focusing on a biased synopsis of the results & then making predictions on the future from this.

The Scotsman [2]

Wed 14 Jan 2004
10:36am (UK)
Greece Too Untrustworthy for Marbles – Lord Elgin
By Jamie Lyons, Political Correspondent, PA News

Greece cannot be trusted to look after the Elgin marbles, a descendant of the man who brought them to Britain claimed today.

The current Lord Elgin said the Greeks had failed to protect the famous artefacts from pollution and should not be given the rest back.

Lord Elgin said his ancestor would have claimed he took the stones to preserve them from desecration.

The 42 pieces he left in Athens because they were in superb condition have now rotted away, he added.

“Unfortunately, even today the amount of desecration that goes on from atmospheric pollution is like a war zone,” Lord Elgin said.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme if Greece would be able to look after the marbles properly, he said: “Frankly, they haven’t.”

The British Museum, which houses the stones, has refused to hand them over despite a campaign which has been running for more than 40 years.

Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to Greece between 1803 and 1812, removed the 2,500-year-old marbles.

The Greek government wants them back in time for the country’s staging of this year’s Olympic Games. It has won the support of MPs and public figures including Dame Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave and Julie Christie.

Former foreign secretary Robin Cook joined the calls. He said ownership did not matter but it was crucial they should reside in Greece.

“The crucial issue is where should they be now?” he told the programme.

“They belong in Athens. We had half of them, the Greeks had the other half. But you can only just see them as a whole when they are united. The only way to unite them is to put them back where they belong.”