The decades-long efforτ to repatriate the Parthenon Marbles to Greece is set to receive a boost with a new bill prepared by a group of cross-party MPs in the British Parliament, seeking to return them to Athens some 200 years after they were removed.
Organizers of the campaign for their return say that this will help the UK secure better terms during its Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
According to Britain's Independent, the Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece) bill will be introduced by Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams, backed by Conservative deputy Jeremy Leroy and another 10 MPs from Labour, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru.
“These magnificent artifacts were improperly dragged and sawn off the remains of the Parthenon,” the Independent quoted Williams as saying.
“This bill proposes that the Parliament should annul what it did 200 years ago. In 1816 Parliament effectively state-sanctioned the improper acquisition of these impressive and important sculptures from Greece,” he said according to the report.
“It’s time we engaged in a gracious act. To put right a 200-year wrong.”
The Parthenon Marbles have for generations been a source of friction between the British government, the British Museum and the modern Greek state.
According to Professor Athanasios Nakasis, president of the Hellenic branch of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the reunification of the Marbles with the temple would mean a great deal, emotionally, to Greece and would be lauded around the world.
“Emotionally, the return of the Marbles to the place where the rest of the monument resides would be a source of pride for Greeks, since the Athenian Acropolis is an important symbolic centre of the modern nation,” he was quoted by the Independent as saying.
The Marbles were removed from the Parthenon temple by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin, who then sold them to the British government.
The British Museum has repeatedly rejected calls to return the sculptures, saying that they were acquired by Elgin through a legitimate contract with the Ottoman Empire which ruled Greece at the time.