12 August, 2003
The Greek government on Monday reiterated its position regarding the return of the Parthenon marbles from “British exile”, denying that it has acknowledged the British Museum’s proper legal title to them.
''Greece's position is simple and clear. We are not raising the legal issue regarding ownership of the Marbles because we are seeking a friendly and consensual solution'', Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in a press release circulated on Monday. He said Athens sought the uniform display of the Marbles inside an envisioned new Acropolis Museum – on land across from the Parthenon --and in direct visual contact with the ancient temple, either in the form of a long-term loan or in the form of a British Museum section within the new museum.
Venizelos' statement was made in reply to a letter from the Director of the British Museum, Neil McGregor, published a day earlier in London’s ''Sunday Times'' newspaper, which claimed that the Greek government had acknowledged that the British Museum has proper legal titles to the Marbles and ''no longer disputes ownership''.
The Parthenon Marbles, often referred to in the West as the “Elgin Marbles”, are portions of friezes atop the 2,500-year-old Parthenon that were sliced off in the early 19th century by British envoy Lord Elgin. He subsequently transported the Marbles to England with the “questionable approval” of local Ottoman authorities occupying the sleepy village of Athens at the time -- some two decades before the Greek War of Independence.
Source: Athens News Agency