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Nick Clegg - Britain's best option for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures?

Out of the candidates in the upcoming UK general election, Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats party has spoken out vociferously in the past in favour of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, as shown in this press release from 2002.

Embargo:    00.01, Wednesday 29th May, 2002


Today, the (Parthenon) Marbles in Exile Conference and Exhibition will take place at the European Parliament.  Nick Clegg MEP, chair of the Marbles in Exile Conference, says:

“I am thrilled by the positive response across Europe to this issue. After all, it’s about preserving our common European heritage. It is absurd that the Parthenon monument remains torn apart in this way. Imagine the outrage in Britain if Big Ben’s clock face was taken from Westminster and housed in the Prado museum in Spain.”

Richard Allan MP, initiator of Parthenon 2004, says

“The issue of cultural restitution is gaining more and more importance worldwide. The United Kingdom should not shy away from this debate, which is a natural consequence of increasing international cooperation.

“The Olympic Games will provide the perfect opportunity for the United Kingdom to make such a historic but also forward looking gesture.  It will show Britain is firmly committed to being a part of Europe and appreciates the interests of her fellow European countries.”


Notes to Editors

Marbles in Exile, European Parliament

The Marbles in Exile conference will take place on May 29th from 5pm to 7pm.  It will be hosted by five MEPs – Alexondras Alavanos MEP, GUEINGL, Dimitrios Tsatsos MEP, PES, Stavros Xarchakos MEP, EPP, Nicholas Clegg MEP, ELDR, Nuala Ahern MEP, GREENS. Mr Poettering MEP, leader of the EPP the largest political group in the European Parliament will participate in the conference.

This will be followed by the inauguration of the photographic exhibition on the Parthenon sculptures by the Greek Minister for Culture, Professor Evangelos Venizelos and the European Commissioner for Education and Culture, Viviane Reding. The President of the European Parliament, Mr Pat Cox, is expected to attend the exhibition, which is presented in collaboration with the Melina Mercouri Foundation and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. It will highlight the parts of the monument which have been separated from the monument.

Speakers at the conference include Jules Dassin (President of the Melina Mercouri Foundation), Prof A Delivorlas (Director of Benaki Museum, Athens), Prof Dr WD Heilmeyer (Director of Archaelogical Museum of Berlin), Jack Lang (Former Minister of National Education, France), Prof St Miller (Dept of Classics – University of California, Berkeley), and Professor A. Snodgrass (Chairman of the British Committee for the

Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles)

Previously, the European Union has made two declarations supporting the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens, the first was signed by 252 MEPs and the second had 347 signatories.

Other European Campaigns

The Belgian Parthenon 2004 Campaign was launched on 13 March 2002 by two Belgian senators, Francois Roelands du Vivier and Paul Wille. They are currently collecting signatures of support for return of the Parthenon Marbles, so far this has numbered a thousand which includes 155 MPs (out of a possible total of 225). The signatories of support from all over Belgium will be collected and given to the UK ambassador in Belgium after the summer.

The Cypriot Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles was launched on April 17th 2002 and in June 18-23 Nicosia will host the marbles in Exile exhibition.

Ministers of Culture and Ministers of Sports of the South Eastern European Countries participated in an informal meeting held in Thessaloniki on 22nd and 23rd February 2002.  Here they pledged their support for the return of the Parthenon Marbles back to Athens by the time of the Olympics Games in 2004.

Other international campaigns

On March 21, 2002, the Quebec National Assembly became the first North American legislature to formally express support for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.  The following motion received unanimous approval and was supported by the Minister of Culture, ” That this Assembly supports Greece’s request for the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles by expressing its deep wish that this common heritage of the humanity may be returned to its place of origin in time for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.”

There are active and prominent Committees for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles in Canada, Australia, the United States and New Zealand.

You can read more detail about this here.


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