The miracle

The miracle

Politics is, as they say, the art of the possible. Nevertheless, sometimes politicians turn their backs on the attainable, especially if it does not help them politically and gives points to their opponents.

For the first time in decades there is a formula on the table for the Parthenon Marbles that Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, sawed off from the Parthenon, to finally return to Greece. The British government, pressured by public opinion that favors the return of the marbles, is looking for a way to satisfy public sentiment in Britain without, however, accepting that this ancient treasure belongs to Greece. Such a thing would set a precedent for emptying most British museums.

Normally, such an opportunity – which is one in a million – would be enough for the government and the opposition to seize it immediately, putting the national interest first. But we are in a pre-election period and the opposition cannot bear the thought of helping Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Some archaeologists support the arguments of the opposition. Greece should not accept the marbles unless it becomes clear from the British authorities that they now belong to Greece. However, such a claim, no matter how reasonable it sounds to us, would only succeed in trapping the marbles in London for decades more.

Obviously, Athens is not going to accept that the Parthenon Marbles are the property of Britain and that Greece is borrowing them. But a formula whereby a joint Greek-British exhibition of the stolen sculptures will be organized in Greece and last indefinitely (for example, for a period of 50 years, and which will be renewed), can balance the needs of both sides.

Athens, in fact, will undertake within the framework of this initiative to give important archaeological treasures every year to the British Museum to be exhibited, some of which are currently stored in chests and drawers at the National Archaeological Museum.

The solution may not be 100% what the Greek side wants. But in negotiations between two countries you can’t expect everything to go your way. The bottom line, however, is that this way the miracle will happen: The Parthenon Marbles will be returned to their homeland forever. In the face of such a miracle, whatever objections there are seem insignificant. 

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