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Greece in talks on Parthenon fragments: museum director

  • A couple stands in front of the Parthenon temple at the Acropolis hill in Athens August 23, 2012. (REUTERS/John Kolesidis)

ATHENS: Greece is in talks with the British Museum on the return of fragments from the Parthenon Marbles.

Demetrios Pantermalis, director of Athens’ Acropolis Museum said Thursday he’d made a proposal on the issue at a UNESCO meeting in June and that talks would be held in Athens in the coming weeks.

“I proposed an arrangement to colleagues from the British Museum, involving pieces – hands, heads, legs – that belong to bodies from the Parthenon sculptures and can be reattached,” Pantermalis said. “The proposal has been accepted in principle.”

Greece has long campaigned for the return of the priceless friezes, removed in 1806 by Lord Elgin and later sold to the British Museum.

The British Museum has turned down successive Greek calls for their return, arguing that the sculptures are part of world heritage and are more accessible to visitors in London.

Inaugurated in June 2009, the new Acropolis Museum includes a section reserved for the disputed collection.

As culture minister in 2009, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had turned down a British Museum loan offer for the Marbles.

British Museum spokeswoman Hannah Boulton had then said that her museum could consider loaning the Marbles to Greece for three months on condition that Athens recognize the museum’s ownership rights to the sculptures.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 24, 2012, on page 16.
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