This just-emerging story seems to be making the rounds of assorted European papers … the only English version, however, is in the Hong Kong Standard:
Greece is holding talks with the British Museum on the return of fragments from the Parthenon Marbles, the director of the Acropolis Museum in Athens said today.
Demetrios Pantermalis said he had made a proposal on the issue at a UNESCO meeting in June and that talks would be held in Athens in the coming weeks, AFP reports.
“I proposed an arrangement to colleagues from the British Museum, involving pieces — hands, heads, legs — that belong to bodies from the Parthenon sculptures and can be reattached,” Pantermalis told Skai Radio. “The proposal has been accepted in principle, we will have a discussion in the autumn.”
Greece has long campaigned for the return of the priceless friezes, removed in 1806 by Lord Elgin when Greece was occupied by the Ottoman Empire and later sold to the British Museum.
The British Museum has turned down successive Greek calls for their return, arguing that the sculptures are part of world heritage and are more accessible to visitors in London.
Inaugurated in June 2009, the new Acropolis Museum includes a section reserved for the disputed collection.
Pantermalis said the Marbles issue remained “taboo” and that the new proposal involving smaller pieces could be a way to “unravel the thread”.
As culture minister in 2009, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had turned down a British Museum loan offer for the Marbles, arguing that acceptance would “legalise their snatching” by the 19th century British diplomat.
“The government, as any other Greek government would have done in its place, is obliged to turn down the offer,” Samaras had said at the time.
“This is because accepting it would legalise the snatching of the Marbles and the monument’s carve-up,” Samaras said.
British Museum spokeswoman Hannah Boulton had then told Skai Radio that her museum could consider loaning the Marbles to Greece for three months on condition that Athens recognise the museum’s ownership rights to the sculptures.
Skai Radio is a Greek station (if you were wondering) … I’m kind of confused, though … is the idea the BC would lend body parts or that Greece would provide missing parts? Or both? Stay tuned …