Time for Britain to face up to the Parthenon Sculptures issue

Dennis Menos, Secretary to the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures has written a piece for their recently published newsletter, about why now is the time for the Parthenon sculptures to be returned.
By Dennis Menos
Two hundred years ago, Lord Elgin, then British Ambassador to the Ottoman Porte, removed over ninety large sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens and had them shipped to London. He did so, he explained later…to “rescue” the sculptures from certain destruction by Ottomans, abuse by visiting tourists, and French art thieves.
Nothing is gained by belaboring Lord Elgin’s motives. As a result of his actions, some of the world’s most beautiful art -- sculptures unique in their beauty and originality and crafted in the 5th Century BC by the master sculptor Phidias -- are now in London. At the British Museum, where they do not belong.
Justifiably, the people of Greece and millions worldwide favor the sculptures’ return to Athens where a new, state of the art museum is being readied to receive them. The new museum, with its dedicated Parthenon Gallery in full view of the old temple, offers the ideal venue for reunifying the sculptures now in London with those that Lord Elgin left behind in Athens.
Considering the events that led to the sculptures being in London, and the fact that Greece is today a stable, thriving European democracy, is it not time for the British Government and Museum to face up to the Parthenon Sculptures issue and do what is right? To take note of the worldwide demand for the sculptures’ return to Greece and finally end the 200 year-old dispute?
Through the years, Greece and supporters of reunification worldwide have repeatedly communicated to the Government of Great Britain their desire for the sculptures’ return -- only to be rebuffed again and again by stale excuses and arguments emanating from the British Museum. The world is familiar with these arguments and frankly does not find them very convincing: the British Museum is not the ideal venue for the sculptures, despite its repeated claims to that effect, and neither are the provisions of the British Museum Act of 1963, which
restrict the British Museum’s ability to respond to the sculptures’ repatriation, sacrosanct. Parliament set these provisions in force and Parliament can remove them.
Too much time has already been wasted debating the stale arguments advanced by the British Museum. The time has come for the British Government to face up to the facts. To admit openly that the Parthenon Sculptures do not really belong in London and that, as an important part of the cultural heritage of the people of Greece and of western civilization they need to be returned to Athens.
The position of the government of Great Britain on this issue is particularly puzzling, because it concerns a dispute with an old friend. Friends resolve their differences, especially, when there are wrongs that need to be corrected. Since gaining its independence in 1821, Greece has been an ally of Great Britain in peace and war. English blood was shed on Greek soil during two World Wars. Both nations are members of NATO and of the European Union. Thousands of young Greek men and women pursue their academic studies in British universities, while millions of Britons visit Greece every year to admire its cultural gifts to the world and enjoy the warm hospitality of its people.
The time for the British Government and Museum to do what is right is now. A brand new museum on the foothills of the Acropolis stands ready to receive
the Parthenon Sculptures. The world expects an early equitable resolution of this dispute.

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