President briefed on Parthenon Marbles campaign

Greece’s ongoing demands for the return of the Parthenon sculptures has the warm support of President Karolos Papoulias, who was briefed on the Culture Ministry’s campaign abroad by Deputy Minister Petros Tatoulis Wednesday. Tatoulis is to meet with heads of committees calling for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, now in the British Museum. On November 25, Tatoulis is to meet with them at the exhibition on foreign archaeological schools on the ground floor of the Athens Concert Hall. They will be given a guided tour of the building site of the New Acropolis Museum at Makryianni, where construction of the first floor has begun. The first floor includes the hall destined to house the Marbles, in clear view of the Acropolis that looms overhead. The president, who served as foreign minister in the governments of Andreas Papandreou, has not forgotten that the then-culture minister, the late Melina Mercouri, was the first person to ask the UNESCO plenary, in August 1982, for the return of the Marbles, «our national treasure, our cultural heritage, our identity.» Melina’s husband, film director Jules Dassin, has set up the Melina Mercouri Foundation for the purpose of supporting construction of the new museum and has given the campaign his moral and material support. Meanwhile, today in Thessaloniki, at the Olympion Cinema, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival honors the late film director Alexis Bistikas, who died at the age of 31 after making nine films, with a screening of his short film «The Marbles,» dedicated to Melina, who had donated her parliamentary deputy’s salary of one month to support the making of the film. In 1989, the film won first prize at the Drama Short Film Festival. An English version was released in London by Helen Cubitt of the British Committee for the Return of the Marbles, headed by Professor Robert Browning, shown on television and at international film festivals.

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