04 August, 2003
Greece has proposed to the British Museum in London that the Parthenon Marbles should be displayed in Athens next year in a joint exhibition timed to coincide with the 2004 Olympics.
''In the framework of joint cultural traditions and close cultural ties between the two countries, we have proposed the creation of a single, joint exhibition of the Parthenon Marbles,'' Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in a statement on Sunday.
''In this manner, the Marbles may be in Athens for the 2004 Olympic Games through cooperation between the British Museum and the Acropolis' New Museum,'' Venizelos said.
The minister was responding to media enquiries regarding an article published in the Sunday Times newspaper earlier in the day that said the Greek government and British Museum were in talks about returning the works of art for the Athens Olympics under a rental arrangement.
''The Greek side is ready to sign all the necessary contracts, both between the two museums and between the two governments. Besides, the two countries are members of the European Union and of UNESCO,'' Venizelos said.
''If the British side were to agree to the proposal, this would be both a cultural and a political initiative of global dimensions,'' he added.
The Sunday Times quoted the Greek press attache in London, Nikos Papadakis, as saying he had no doubt the Marbles would return to Athens.
Papadakis added that it was the first time talks were continuing, which was encouraging.
The newspaper also said that UNESCO, the UN's cultural organization, had backed the talks.
Source: Athens News Agency