Greece, together with philhellenes around the world, has been campaigning to repatriate the Parthenon Marbles to Greece for decades, and now Britain’s Labour leader has put himself front and centre in the debate.
Jeremy Corbyn who has long been a supporter of the cause, has said that if he is voted in as Prime Minister at the next elections that he will pursue the return of the marbles.
“The Parthenon sculptures belong to Greece,” Mr Corbyn told Ta Nea in an exclusive interview.
“They were made in Greece and have been there for many centuries until Lord Elgin took them,” the opposition leader acknowledged.
“As with everything stolen or removed from a country that was in the possession or colony – including objects looted from other countries in the past – we should also begin constructive talks with the Greek government on the return of the sculptures.”
The Parthenon Marbles which date back to the fifth century BCE, were removed from the Parthenon temple in the Greek capital by the seventh Earl of Elgin, Thomas Bruce in the early 1800s.
An ambassador to the Ottoman court at the time, he claimed that it was the Turkish authorities that granted him permission to remove them, and were purchased by the British parliament in 1816 and passed on to the British Museum.
Greece’s argument is that Turkey’s permission doesn’t stand, given that they were a foreign force that had invaded Greece, and were in no way acting in accordance to the will of the Greek people.
However the requests to have the prized marbles returned to Greece have faced strong opposition. Opponents are concerned that if they were to be returned, that it would see countless requests from other countries to have their artworks, currently residing in the many museums across Britain, returned.
Mr Corbyn has been following the campaign for some time, having spoken in parliament in 2014 on the matter.