Greek Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni categorically ruled out any intentions by the Greek government to accept a rumored proposal by the British Museum to “loan out” the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, in reply to a tabled question by the opposition in Parliament on Wednesday.
Responding to a question tabled by an MP from the “Course of Freedom” (Plevsi) party, Mendoni emphasized that the current “unique climate” in talks with the museum’s leadership was conducive to seeking repatriation of forcefully removed and stolen cultural artifacts from countries of origin, not only within Greece but at an international level.
She added that the government’s stance was unwavering on the matter, referring to the Prime Minister’s statements in London about the return of the Parthenon Marbles two weeks ago.
“The reunification of the Parthenon Marbles is paramount for us. Reunification through lending or leasing is not to be considered,” she pointed out.
The minister clarified that the matter of the Parthenon Marbles was not comparable to the “Hydria of Medea”, an artifact now exhibited at the Acropolis Museum, after being transferred from the UK on a loan: “It was acquired in 1772 by the British Museum, and its ownership by the British Museum is not disputed. It was lent to us. There is no such issue for the Parthenon Marbles under any circumstances.”
Mendoni, a noted archaeologist, continued, “These [Parthenon Marbles] were stolen by (Lord) Elgin, mistreated, vandalized, sawn off, to end up in England, as the sailboats of the time couldn’t bear their weight. But even when they went to the British Museum, they were mistreated, a behavior not particularly protective of them. We cannot accept ownership, possession, or loan from the British Museum.”
Mendoni added that Greece has consistently demanded the reunification and definitive repatriation of the invaluable friezes.
We have the absolute right, the absolute duty and the absolute obligation, with every suitable means arising from international conventions and agreements signed by Greece and Great Britain, to consistently demand the reunification and definitive repatriation of the Parthenon Sculptures. I reiterate that neither leasing nor lending is under consideration,” she concluded.