The United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution in favor of the return of the Parthenon marbles from the British Museum to Athens, a little after Minister of Culture Aristides Baltas stated that Greece will withdraw from the legal claim of the sculptures.
The decision of the UN General Assembly is due to a previous Greek initiative on the Decision for “Restitution or Return of Cultural Property in the countries of origin” which includes an explicit reference to the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
A total of 74 countries, including many European Union member states, a significant number of Latin American countries and several Arab and African states are involved in the initiative.
This is an initiative to facilitate the return of cultural property to countries of origin and the efforts to protect cultural heritage. These are two dimensions that are highly relevant and critical today, as both the Middle East suffers daily from destruction of works of art, archaeological artifacts and monuments of cultural heritage. At the same time, smuggling of cultural property is used as a means of financing terrorism.
It should be noted that the final text of the Decision has changed after systematic consultations with the mediation of Greece following the directives of Foreign Minister Nick Kotzias. The Greek argument is that Greece, as a cradle of knowledge and civilization, is always at the vanguard for the defense of world cultural heritage by promoting similar initiatives.
Of particular importance is the specific reference made in the Decision on the activation of EU Member States for the return of stolen cultural treasures with an explicit reference to the return of the Parthenon sculptures.
Another equally important aspect of the Decision is the condemnation of the destruction of world cultural heritage in areas of armed conflict, including the occupied territories, and the illicit trafficking of cultural property by armed terrorist groups such as ISIS.