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What will the UK do about the Parthenon Sculptures UNESCO mediation request

As I mentioned in the previous post [1], it is now over a year since Greece submitted their application to Britain via UNESCO, for mediation of the Parthenon Marbles dispute.

Andrew George MP, Chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign [2] has asked the British government what they are dong about this request. Jeremy Corbyn MP, another well known supporter of restitution for the sculptures also got involved, pressing the government for a sensible answer, when none seemed to be forthcoming.

ITV news also has more coverage [3] of this story, including a brief video clip.

Andrew George MP, Chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign [4]

Andrew George MP, Chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign

Andrew George MP [5]

Parthenon Sculptures
16th October 2014

Andrew George (St Ives) (LD):
What his policy is on the UNESCO proposal for mediation with Greece on the Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum.[905472]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mrs Helen Grant):

The Government note that UNESCO stands ready to facilitate mediation discussions on the Parthenon sculptures. We will consider the proposal and respond in due course. We are clear that the sculptures are legally owned by the British museum, which continues to provide access for all.

Andrew George:

I am sure that if the UK is confident in its position, it will willingly engage with UNESCO in the offer of mediation. Although some might delude themselves on this matter, the fact is that parading stolen booty in the otherwise excellent British museum brings shame on this country. Surely the United Kingdom now needs to engage constructively and graciously recognise that the Parthenon sculptures should return to Athens.

Mrs Grant:
We are engaging constructively. We will respond to the offer in due course. The suitability objectives and benefits of mediation need to be considered before that point, but I repeat that the sculptures are the property of the British museum, which provides access to all free of charge.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab):
Can the Minister be a bit more specific about when the constructive engagement will come to a conclusion? The point made by the hon. Gentleman was that those items were stolen from the people of Greece, and there are very strong feelings in Greece about that. Perhaps our relationship with Greece would be improved if we constructively engaged with it with a view to returning some, if not all, of these items.

Mrs Grant:
I do not accept that the items were stolen, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that there is constructive engagement between the UK and Greek Governments. The matter was discussed at the beginning of October at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.