ATHENS – Almost almost certain to do nothing beyond being an expression, Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni welcomed a resolution introduced by the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues urging the British Museum to return the stolen Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
The museum’s officials and the United Kingdom government have always rejected the idea, now again even stronger when Prime Minister Boris Johnson said they were legally stolen by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin beginning in 1801 because he had permission from the ruling Ottoman Occupation.
The Turks didn’t own them but let him take them, before he then sold them to the British Museum which claims to be the rightful owners, Greece hoping to get them back this year for the 200th anniversary of Independence from Turkey.
“The submission of the cross-partisan resolution…is an international action in support of Greece’s long-standing demand for the return of the Parthenon Marbles and their reunion with the monument-symbol of Western Civilization,” Mendoni said in a statement, reported Kathimerini.
“This move shows that anyone who manages illegally acquired cultural property remains attached to colonial ideas. The continued illegal possession of cultural property is a matter of democracy,” she added.
She earlier had sent Johnson a letter showing legal proof the marbles were stolen but which Greece hasn’t used to go to international courts to fight for the return, the New Democracy government also standing pat.
The resolution was submitted by New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat and Florida Republican Gus Bilirakis, who share leadership of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues.
“As we celebrate the bicentennial of Greek Independence from the Ottoman Empire this year, we cannot forget that Greece continues its fight to have the Parthenon Marbles – some of the country’s greatest examples of artistic expression and beauty – returned to their rightful home,” Congresswoman Maloney said in a statement.
“Art provides a window into history and its expression is liberty,” said Representative Bilirakis. “To not house and view these citizen contributions in the city they were originally intended does a disservice not only to the people of Athens, but also to the civilization that paved the path for modern democracy and freedom. I sincerely hope to see these original works and other important elements of Hellenic history finally returned to their rightful owner for future generations of proud Greeks to enjoy.”