The British House of Commons will discuss on Monday Greece’s demand for the return of the Parthenon sculptures to their rightful home.
Greece has asked UNESCO to mediate on the issue and the organization has given a deadline to the British government to respond. If Britain does not respond by the end of March, the Greek government can take legal action in the European Court of Human Rights.
A team of lawyers including Amal Clooney have prepared a 300-page report setting out Greece’s options on the matter. The lawyers believe that there is a 75-80 percent chance of winning the rights to the sculptures that are regarded by some as the finest works of art in history.
The sculptures were allegedly bought by Lord Elgin under controversial circumstances in the early 1800’s when Greece was still under Ottoman rule. Elgin allegedly sold the marbles to the British Museum where they have been exhibited since.
Greek Antiquities Director of the Culture Ministry, Dr. Elena Korka told The Independent of the significance of the reunification of “these exceptional, outstanding and most important sculptures which belong as an integral part of a unique symbolic monument for the whole world.”
“This is the essence of it, making something which exists today as whole as it can be… this is what the public wants, every poll shows it. It’s such an important issue. Even if Greece didn’t ask for it, the whole world would,” Korka said.
The Antiquities director also told The Independent that the return of the sculptures would be a day of “true joy” for the monument and it will be a gesture of co-operation, boosting morale in crisis-stricken Greece.