Recent events have shown how something escaped everyone’s notice which shouldn’t have: the Marbles need a face. They need THE face. While Melina Mercouri was alive and had taken the issue in hand, the Parthenon Marbles were almost always at the center of an international debate. And that in an era when repatriating antiquities was radical, indeed virtually unthinkable, meaning it was hard to imagine the discussion ever coming to anything. Back then, when people in the capitals of continental Europe heard Melina’s demands, after the initial shock, the majority would laugh at the sheer outlandishness of what they’d heard… But in London, it wasn’t just a majority, it was almost everyone, and they didn’t start laughing, they started frothing at the mouth!

Melina’s death spelled the start of an extended period of low visibility for the Greek campaign. Not in the sense that efforts stopped; far from it. They actually intensified, with people adding their voices from all over the world and the struggle becoming far broader-based over time, with calls for the Marble’s return coming not just from Greeks but from representatives all over the world.

But the campaign still lacked its face. That one person who, with their presence and actions, their maneuvers and special way of shuffling the international deck of cards (which was something at which Melina was in a class of her own), would draw the world’s attention to the issue. Because international interest is Greece’s greatest ally when it comes to the Marbles.
Two examples will suffice to demonstrate how crucial it is for a person fitting this description to exist in cases where the goal is so unique and the stakes so high. One from the start of the repatriation campaign, and one from today. First off, it wasn’t actually Melina who raised the issue of the Marbles, it was her predecessor in the final Karamanlis administration, Dimitrios Nianias. Did anyone ever hear a word about it? No. Nianias was a professor of Philosophy and Logic who picked up an old issue, but he wasn’t the right person for the job. Second example, today.

In the last few days, that person has unexpectedly put in an appearance. And he couldn’t have done a better job! Because when British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak—annoyed, as he has admitted, by his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s stance on the Marbles—cancelled their meeting in London in the clumsiest, rudest and above all least British way possible, he unwittingly became THE person. His gaffe led to a huge surge in support for the Marbles’ return among the British public. The poor chap set out to achieve the exact opposite, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Even King Charles broke with convention and made his position clear (brilliantly) without saying a word: he wore his “Greek” tie to a meeting with Sunak for all the world to see! Publicity like that simply can’t be bought…
But Sunak isn’t the man to keep doing the job, even if he survives the months ahead as PM.

So here’s a suggestion:
Someone who would do very well indeed—seeing as she helped Greece emerge smelling of roses from a far more ominous and complex case exactly twenty years ago: Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. Who we all know very well. That everyone refers to simply as… Gianna, speaks volumes. And if heard in London tomorrow that Mitsotakis might be assigning her a new national mission, one of those commando operations that fit her like a glove, then they’ll know: THE person is on her way…