ATHENS – A sudden revival in world interest in the stolen Parthenon Marbles housed in the British Museum for more than 200 years has now seen the Hellenic Caucus in the US Congress join in the battle.
Congressmen Gus M. Bilirakis of Florida and Chris Pappas of New Hampshir, who serve as Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus signed a letter with lawmakers Frank Pallone, Jr., Dina Titus, Barbara Lee, Nicole Malliotakis, James P. McGovern, John P. Sarbanes and Grace Meng
“The Sculptures from the Acropolis of Athens, Greece have been loved and appreciated in their adoptive home in the British Museum for more than two hundred years, inspiring and edifying millions of visitors,” the letter said.
It comes on the heels of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit to London where he was snubbed by British Premier Rishi Sunak who was upset the Greek leader resurrected the call for the return of the priceless treasures ripped off the Parthenon by a Scottish diplomat, Lord Elgin, during the Ottoman occupation.
“It is past time that they return home to be reunified with the rest of the sculptures from which they were ripped apart. This will allow visitors to view and appreciate them in totality as part of a greater whole in their natural and rightful environment,” the letter said, no indication if it was even read or ignored.
“The Acropolis Museum, a state-of-the-art museum, was built for this purpose. It will also contribute to greater historical and cultural understanding of ancient Athens, Classical Greece, and the world wonder that is the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to Athena,” the American contingent argued.
“In taking the initiative to return the Sculptures, you would affirm your admiration and respect for the immense legacy of ancient Greece, promote the importance and understanding of history and Western values of classical art, and further strengthen Britain’s already salutary ties with the Hellenic Republic and the Greek people,” the letter went on to say.
Those echo arguments the British Museum and government have dismissed over the years while insisting the British are the rightful owners of the Greek artifacts because Elgin had the permission of the Turks, who didn’t own them.
The letter was sent to Sunak, who was even mocked by British politicians for taking a “hissy fit” in insulting Mitsotakis by refusing to meet a fellow premier who’s from the same center-right party background.
“We write to you as members of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, urging British officials to return to earnest discussions with Greece over the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures,” said the letter.
“The return to their historic and natural setting would be lauded and celebrated worldwide, and we call for the resumption of robust negotiations to that end. The Parthenon is considered the high-water mark of world architecture, and its sculptures and reliefs certainly constitute the paramount point of classical art,”it also added.
Museum Chairman George Osborne has offered only a loan on condition that Greece give up its rights to ownership and send other valuable artifacts to be held hostage until the Parthenon Marbles are sent back, which Mitsotakis rejected.