The Historic Resolution of 1986
In July 1986, the intellectual and artistic societies of the country gave resolution to the Minister of Culture, Melina Merkouri for the exploitation and the international promotion of the declaration of all Greeks in favor of the return of the “Elgin Marbles”.
The resolution was signed by the representatives of the societies, among which are: the Greek Literary Writers Society, the House of Fine Arts and Literature, the Greek Chamber of Arts, the Greek Actors Society, the Greek Music Society, the Theatrical Writers Society, the Architects Society, the National Research Centre, the National Greek Gallery, the Greek Composers Union, the Sculptors Union, the Editors Union etc.
“The Parthenon Marbles are found in London at the British Museum “so that they receive attention” as it is officially stated. Today, we believe that the time has come for their return in our country, their birth-place, since it is internationally recognized that Athens can keep its artistic treasures. Besides, this kind of works of art, that belong to humanity shouldn’t be cut into pieces and scattered around. Its is much more than obvious that they should complete the monument and the place that inspired their construction.
“The Attic scenery and its light, the Parthenon and the Erechteum, the rock itself, imposed the order, the harmony, the sculptural perfection of these forms. Therefore, how can these marbles have the same functions, even in the best museum in the world?”
“Expressing the desire and the right of all Greeks, we, the intellectual and artistic entities give this resolution to all Nations and heritors of the Ancient Greek Culture, being convinced that they will become firm supporters of our petition and that the problem of the Return of the Parthenon Marbles will finally get to its final solution”.
All together, we support a cause. The Return of the Elgin Marbles is a petition beyond time or place.
In 2004, the Belgian campaign “Parthenon 2004”
started in Brussels. The campaign’s aim was the return of the Marbles in Greece, on the occasion of the 2004 Olympic Games. On the 13th March 2002, a big press conference took place under the following subject: “The Return of the Parthenon Marbles in Greece. An act of culture and justice”
, set forward by the Belgian senators Francois Roland du Vivié and Paul Will.
The above initiative of the two senators supported the campaign, that had started a few weeks before by the British member of the Parliament, Richard Allan, whose work was already being supported by a large number of members of the Parliament and the men of science.
During the interview, the senators announced a list of 150 Belgian important public figures, who had signed the petition for the Return of the Marbles. Among them, presidents of the assembly, 27 senators, 35 ministers of the Federation, 50 regional ministers and 12 prefects.
At the same time, the web page of the “Parthenon 2004” campaign was presented to the public.
In 2007, a weekly project about the Acropolis reconstruction works and the New Acropolis Museum took place in Sydney. The project included several events, like exhibitions, a discussion about heritage and a lecture on the subject of the Acropolis reconstruction works, which was presented by Mr Ioannidou and Mr Nikolaos Toganidis (an architect and responsible for the reconstruction work)
The “Parthenon Project” was inspired by Mrs Theodora Mina, who is a lawyer and a graduate of the Sydney University. Mr Michael Turner, the curator of Nicolson Museum -which is located inside the University and which is hosting an exhibition about the reconstruction works of the Acropolis- referring to Mrs Mina, said that she represents a new generation of Greeks, who wish to compensate for the injustice against the Greek cultural history and identity.
Richard Allan, British Member of the Parliament and visionist of the movement, said: “This action shows that the Return of the Marbles in Greece has a global impact. Two statements that support the return of the Marbles, were signed by almost 600 people at the European Parliament. Meanwhile, many countries of the Commonwealth as well as in the United States focus their attention and their actions on the return of the Marbles. If we want to be Full Members of Europe, we must do this gesture for Greece. In addition, an ideal opportunity is rising for the British Government to prove that its role in the international cooperation and bona fide is vital”
The European Union has signed two statements for the Return of the Marbles: the first statement was signed by 252 members of the European Parliament and the second by 347 other public figures.
Donald Pein- Gus Bilirakis
The return of the Parthenon Marbles in Greece was requested in 2009 by the senator Donald Pein and the republican Gus Bilirakis at the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the House of Representatives.
On the amendment, it is mentioned that the Parthenon is a symbol of the Greek heritage, a catholic symbol of Democracy and freedom as well as a place of pray for the Ancient Greeks, the Christians and the Muslims. On the amendment, it is also referred that the New Acropolis Museums allows Greece to offer a better preservation of the Monuments than the British Museum. The two senators conclude that “the British Government should start negotiating with the Greek government for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles in Greece”.
In December 2009, the under-Secretary of Tourism and Culture awards the network initiative, taken by the Youth Networks of the Expatriated Greeks Council, who created their own web page www.unitethemarbles.org, aiming to promote the petition for the reunification of the Marbles.
“Our web page addresses not only to Greeks but also to the countless philhellenists around the world. Therefore, we took particular care to its translation into many languages- English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic etc”, states the Co-ordinator of the Expatriated Greeks Council of Africa and Near and Middle East, Dimitris Vafeiadis from Johannesburg. The latter has also cooperated with the active Greek Students Federation of South Africa, (NAHYSOSA).”
“The network initiative, taken by the Youth Networks of the Expatriated Greeks Council, aiming to promote the petition for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles makes us feel proud but responsible too. We will keep on –with all the Greeks who live in their country as well the expatriated ones- fighting, having around us all the citizens of the world, who believe that this petition is fair and support our initiatives. Therefore, we hope that soon Melina Merkouri’s vision will come true and the Marbles will go back to their birthplace. Besides, the marbles have a house of their own now, the New Acropolis Museum”, Mrs Gerekou stated.
Cambridge, the debate and the…Sculptures
Some denied the petition, some talked of the nationalistic tendentiousness of Greece and some for “historic injustice”. A debate, many centuries and four speakers.
The debating matter at the Cambridge Union Society ended with 114 votes in favor of the return and 46 against it.
The Society keeps remaining loyal to a two centuries tradition and continues hosting every week distinguished speakers, who debate for “ambiguous” matters. In the case of the Elgin Marbles, the two speakers argued in favor of the return while the other two argued against it, with interventions of the audience, which mainly consisted of students.
The absence of the British Museum representatives was vital. They preferred to turn down the hosts’ invitation, whereas twenty more of the prospective speakers of the evening denied the proposal. The professor Snodgrass was a dominant personality of the event. He argued in favor of the return, stating the following: “The more people learn about the facts, the more they are convinced about the repatriation of the marbles”. He also noted that the “New Acropolis Museum is far better than the British Museum hall, which looks like a tomb, comparing to the New Acropolis Museum”. The President of the “International Committee for the Reunification”, David Hill was in favor of the return claiming: “It is all about a case, in which a historic injustice could be remedied”.
The “Guardian” journalist Jonathan Jones opposed to the Return of the Marbles. “Let’s stop arguing about where these marbles should be and let’s start talking about the marbles themselves and their artistic value”, he said while stating that Greece asks for the return of the marbles, prompted by …”nationalism, the pettiest ideology, an ideology that blinds”! Mr Jones’ final statement was that the sculptures “belong to the world”.
Alpha beta with the Parthenon Marbles
The Australians officiate internationally at the campaign for the Return of the Marbles. They consist the most active association worldwide after Greece and Britain. Everything that was mentioned in ABC’s TV show for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
The Australian channel and the journalist Eleni Vatsikopoulou made a tour of the New Acropolis Museum for her spectators. The new symbol of Athens, as they called the Museum, offers a unique experience. “It leaves you breathless. It is considered the most remarkable construction in Greece after the Parthenon. It emits a great majesty and at the same time a disarming modesty. It is an outstanding modern construction that respects the past. So much light! It is what the ancient Greeks would like to enjoy, the unique attic light! Walking on surfaces made of glass and watching the base of the ancient city is something that hasn’t ever occurred in any other part of the world”, she describes.
It’s amazing but it never changes!
The alternate director of the British Museum, Andrew Barnel stated that he believes that the museum is marvelous, but this “can’t change anything, the marbles belong to us, we obtained them by fair means, paying for them. As a result, there is no case of their return”.
The polluted Attic air
The President of the International Association for the Return of the Marbles, David Hill denied all that is heard concerning the “protection of the Sculptures from the existing air pollution”, characterizing the above arguments insulting and unreasonable. “Elgin took only half the collection away. The other half- the famous western colarin- remained in the Parthenon. Now, if you compare the piece that remained in Athens with the pieces being at the British Museum, it is incomparably in better condition”, Mr Hill stated.
The Aboriginals succeeded
In the framework of the Parthenon campaign, the British count on the international pressure and the final decision of the British Government just like in the case of the Aboriginals, who were pushing for the return of their own sculptures. When the prime minister John Howard turned on the heat to his counterpart Tony Blair, a big part of the stolen sculptures was returned in 2006.
“Polling” the Sculptures.
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, 9,10... 1.000.000, 2.000.000, 30.000.000… 65.000.000…and so forth. We are many….
A series of polls about the return of the Marbles have been concerning the public opinion during the two last decades.
April 1996. Through a phone poll that followed the broadcast of a documentary about the removal of the Parthenon Marbles by Lord Elgin, 99.340 people called, among them 91.822 people voted, that is a percentage of 92,5%.
September 1998. The polling company MORI carried out a poll in Great Britain, on the 25th September 1998. 39% of the public voted in favor of the return of the Parthenon Marbles in Greece, 15% voted against the return while 18% remained indecisive.
At the moment, at the British Parliament, 47% voted in favor of the return of the Parthenon Marbles in Greece, 44% voted against the return while 9% remained indecisive. More specifically, 57% of the Labor Party U.K. MPs voted in favor of the return, 33% voted against the return and 10% remained indecisive. On the contrary, among the Conservative Party MPs, 9% voted in favor of the return and 83% against it!
December 1999. BBC asks its audience whether the “Elgin Marbles” should remain at the British Museum. 51% answered “yes”, 20% answered “no” and 10% did not express any opinion.
March 2000. On a poll at the newspaper “Economist”: “If a conscience vote was carried out in the Parliament about the return of the Elgin Marbles in Greece, would you support the case or no?”.
66% of the British Parliament Members voted in favor of the return and 34% against it. More explicitly, the Labor Party MPs voted once again against the return with a percentage of 87%, whereas 83% of the Liberal Party MPs voted in favor of the return. Questioned for a second time “whether they agree on a possible return of the Marbles in Greece after ten years, 41% of the MPs voted in favor and 59% against.
October 2000. CNN asks its spectators “whether the British should return to Greece the marbles, that had been removed by the Parthenon 200 years ago”. 5492 people called, and 82% among them voted in favor of the return.
January 2002. The CNN site sets once again the issue of the return of the Elgin Marbles. 1714 people vote and only 420 among them oppose to a possible return.
September 2002. The MORI company brings back the matter of the Marbles. The percentage of the British are now 6 versus 1, who are in favor of the return of the Marbles. This means that only 7% of the British support the marbles’ sojourn in Britain.
December 2003. ICM Research asked 1002 adults whether they agree with the return of the Marbles in the British Museum. 73% among the questioned agreed, whereas 18% opposed to it. On a question whether the British Museum should move on to a commitment for the Olympic year 2004 which will involve the exhibit of the marbles in Athens, 77% agreed. Only 16% was against this commitment. On a question about the recent Greek suggestion to allow to the British Museum the possession of the marbles being in London, in case of their long-term lending to the Acropolis Museum -which has visual contact with the monument’s space in Athens- 81% answered that the British Museum should accept the proposal. Only 13% were against it.