The Greek government has officially enlisted the aid of UNESCO in its ongoing efforts to regain the Parthenon Sculptures which are currently in the British Museum.
UNESCO has sent a letter to the British foreign secretary, William Hague, the culture secretary, Maria Miller, as well as to the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, to notify them of the Greek government’s decision to contact UNESCO and to attempt to reach a settlement of this long standing dispute.
The issue of the Parthenon Sculptures has been at the forefront of discussions at the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for more than 20 years but every time the committee meets, the formal British position is essentially the same: the British Museum is an independent body and is not subject to government control.
The museum’s director, Neil MacGregor, has repeatedly stated that the British Museum will never return the sculptures and has described the whole issue as “yesterday’s question”.
Greek Minister of Culture and Sport Panos Panagiotopoulos voiced his concern over worsening ties at a meeting this week for the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.
He says Greece’s efforts for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles “do not start from a need to enhance our national egoism”.
“It is an effort with global implications, aimed at the restoration of the unity of a leading cultural monument, which is a common reference for all mankind.”
The call for return of the so-called Elgin collection of Parthenon Sculptures has been going on for years with little progress. UNESCO’s relationship with the Greek government holds new hope that mediations can occur soon.