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Society

British Museum Won’t Loan Stolen Parthenon Marbles to Greece

January 28, 2019

The priceless marble friezes stolen from the Parthenon two centuries ago by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin won’t be loaned to the rightful owner Greece from where they are now on display, British Museum Director Hartwig Fischer said, despite international outcries.

He told the Greek newspaper Ta Nea that Greece is not the legal owner of the marbles that were built in Greece and put on the Parthenon, insisting his museum is, ruling out any chance they would be loaned although the new Acropolis Museum designed a floor to show them off against the backdrop of the Acropolis and Parthenon through giant glass windows.

Fischer said that loans are only made to countries who agree her museum owns them without explaining why it does since they were stolen from Greece.

Greek Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said he wouldn’t sue to force the return and would rely on diplomatic means that have always failed and that essentially he doesn’t care about the matter, proclaiming the marbles belong to the world and not Greece.

In December, 2018, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said there was increasing support internationally for the British Museum to return the stolen Parthenon Marbles despite years of refusal and with officials there saying the treasures now belong to them and not Greece.

During a visit to the Acropolis Museum, which opened with 2009 and was designed to house the Marbles if they are ever returned, he noted a piece in the London Sunday Times by a Deputy Editor, Sarah Baxter, who joined the chorus of those who said they should be returned.

He said, “A major goal, of key national importance, namely the return of the Marbles … is gaining increasing international support,” without noting that’s been the case for years and hasn’t led to any chance of the marbles return.

He added that the increased backing for the Greek government’s aim to secure the sculptures “should not lead to complacency on our part.” “On the contrary, it increases our obligations,” he said.

Baxter, as have many others, including the late writer Christopher Hitchens, the foremost champion of the Marbles return, wrote that with the opening of the Acropolis Museum that the British Museum has no argument left to keep them.

The Acropolis Museum in Athens is perfectly capable of hosting its original sculptures of the Parthenon instead of the copies it exhibits, she wrote.

“I simply can’t think of a sound reason for refusing Greece’s claim for their return,” she said. She added that, “It is hard to deny that they belong to their original place, why not exchange them? We are fighting a losing battle to maintain our looting when there are innovative ways to share our knowledge,” she added.

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