CULTURE

Venizelos continues efforts for return of Parthenon Marbles

British newspapers resorted to irony to conceal their discomfort at the publicity given to Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos’s visit to London this week with Professor Dimitris Pantermalis, chairman of the organization for the construction of the New Acropolis Museum. The event was organized by the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles and Professor Anthony Snodgrass to show the British media a model of the new museum opposite the Acropolis, in the presence of its renowned architect Bernard Tschoumi. «The Greek minister of culture went to the British Museum yesterday and sought a souvenir of his visit – the Elgin Marbles,» wrote The Times. But some of the Greek press viewed Venizelos’s arguments with some skepticism, when he asked that the sculptures be returned in the form or a loan. «The sculptures have their pride,» commented Kathimerini, which has been following the issue since 1982, when then Culture Minister Melina Mercouri asked a plenary session of Unesco for the return of the Marbles, «which are our heritage, our culture.» What is important is that the Greek State has adopted a position, and that Prime Minister Costas Simitis raised the issue with Tony Blair, his counterpart in Downing Street. But the British Museum made it clear that it considers the best place for the Marbles is in the museum. Venizelos suggested an exchange in the form of rotating exhibitions. The British Museum «could fill its empty coffers,» he said, «if we were to send ancient exhibits to the empty Dulveen Gallery once the Marbles had gone to Athens for 2004, and you charged admission.»