UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn would return the Parthenon sculptures to Greece if elected Prime Minister, he said in an interview with Greek newspaper Ta Nea. Corbyn believes the sculptures, also called the Elgin Marbles, "belong to Greece." The international cultural agency UNESCO also weighed in on the issue last week, calling for a "mutually acceptable solution" after a meeting in Paris.
The Elgin Marbles have resided as a centerpiece in the British Museum since 1816. Dating from the 5th century BC, the prized sculptures were taken from the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis in Athens by Lord Elgin, who was an Ottoman ambassador, in the early 1800s. When Elgin brought the pieces to England to sell, he insisted he had permission to remove them from the ruling Ottomans.
Greece has long sought legal claims for the marbles return while over 200 years have passed since its masterpieces were removed.
Corbyn concurs, saying, “As with anything stolen or taken from occupied or colonial possession – including artefacts looted from other countries in the past – we should be engaged in constructive talks with the Greek government about returning the sculptures.”
In a press statement on Thursday, the Greek Ministry of Culture said that the UNESCO committee for the return of cultural property “recognised for the first time the historical, cultural, legal and ethical aspects of the return by Britain of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece.”
“Greece will continue its effort towards the return to Greece and reunification of the sculptures, expressing the confident that this day is not far into the future, as shown by the strong support of public opinion globally, including the British one,” the Greek Ministry announcement said.