Greece and the UK have agreed to formally discuss the contested Parthenon marbles, UNESCO announced this week. Acquired from the Acropolis in Athens by Lord Elgin, key sculptural elements from the Parthenon were sold to the British government and have been housed in London’s British Museum since 1816.
The UN revived the subject in September with a request to the UK to "reconsider its stand" after long-deflecting Greece's requests for the marbles' return. On April 29, UK’s minister for arts, Stephen Parkinson, sent a request for a meeting with Greek Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni, which she accepted.
Experts have suggested for months that the British Museum stance is changing in regards to the marbles returning to Greece.
“This is a major shift” said lawyer Mark Stephens to Yannis Andritsopoulos for the Greek daily newspaper Ta Nea back in February.
Stephens, an expert on museum, art, and cultural heritage law, explained that “previously, the museum had been very clear about not allowing the Marbles to go; it was always a complete blockage. But now it appears that that's no longer the case. I think they're drawing the distinction between their own previous position and the current one."
He said: “they’re saying that loan requests are considered in light of three subjects: Historical significance, delicacy and whether they would be damaged in transit. Obviously, the Acropolis Museum in Athens meets those three criteria.”
“The Marbles were made to be together and one day they will be where they belong. The same goes for all the disfigured reliefs, with half a horse here and the other half galloping over there, it’s crazy!" Dame Janet Suzman, Chair of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, told Ta Nea.