Greece softens stance on legal action over Parthenon Marbles - Museums Association

Greece softens stance on legal action over Parthenon Marbles

Greek cultural minister says route to reclaiming the sculptures should be diplomatic and political
Nicola Sullivan
The Greek government has softened its stance on taking legal action to reclaim the Parthenon Marbles, easing a longstanding dispute with the British Museum.  

Last week Nikos Xydakis, the Greek cultural minister, told Greek broadcaster Mega TV that the route to retrieving the sculptures should be diplomatic and political, rather than via international courts.

It has been reported that the minister’s announcement came shortly after human rights lawyers at Doughty Street chambers in London advised the Greek government that it should take the British Museum to the International Court of Justice.

When the Museums Journal contacted Doughty Street it was told that the advice could not be shared with the press for reasons of client confidentiality. The Greek Culture Ministry had not responded to requests at the time of going to press.

The British Museum said that it will now be able to “develop existing good relations” with curatorial colleagues in Greece.

A statement sent to the Museums Journal said: "The Parthenon sculptures in London, that represent 30% of the original scheme, are an important representation of ancient Athenian civilisation in the context of world history.

"Each year millions of visitors, free of charge, admire the artistry of the sculptures and gain insight into how ancient Greece influenced – and was influenced by – the other civilisations that it encountered.
"The current division allows different and complementary stories to be told about the surviving sculptures, highlighting their significance within world culture and affirming the place of Ancient Greece among the great cultures of the world.”

In April the UK government turned down a request from the Greek government to enter into mediation, facilitated by Unesco, over the Parthenon Marbles.  

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