An opinion article in The Guardian argues in favor of the return of the Parthenon sculptures now that Britain is detaching itself from the European Union.
“If we leave Europe, we should finally have the decency to return Greece’s plundered heritage,” Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, writes.
The writer says that the insistence to keep the sculptures that actually belong to Greece and the Parthenon, is actually contrary to the will of most Britons as only 23 percent of them want the Greek marbles to remain in the British Museum, according to a 2014 opinion poll.
Cosslett argues that keeping the Parthenon sculptures away from their “siblings” that are exhibited at the new Acropolis Museum in Athens, is a remnant of Britain’s colonialist past, or, as she puts it, “British cultural chauvinism.”
The upcoming Brexit is a good opportunity for Greece to pursue to right the wrong of the removal of the priceless sculptures from the Athens Acropolis by Lord Elgin in the early 1800s, when Greece was still under Ottoman rule.
The return of the marbles would not be a defeat for Britain but rather it would appear as a friendly gesture to Greece. After all, the writer points out, the sculptures of the Parthenon frieze is a single work of art and can not be divided and exhibited separately, much less in two different countries far from each other.
Another argument is that now that Britain is exiting the European Union, it would be more difficult for travellers to see the marbles at the British Museum as the Brexit would restrict free movement. At the same time, European citizens can visit Greece freely and admire the sculptures in the place they were created.
“For us, one of the greatest moral statements our government could make to express regret for past colonialist behaviour would be to return the Parthenon marbles to their rightful owners,” Cosslett writes. And she concludes: “Brexit Britain doesn’t much care about gestures of international friendship. But perhaps its hand will be forced.”