Minister for Youth Affairs Jenny Mikakos MP is urging Greeks throughout the diaspora,particularly those living in Britain, to throw their support behind British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s push for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
The British opposition leader made headlines over the weekend after he vowed to begin the process for the return of the precious Marbles to Greece if elected Prime Minister.
“The Parthenon sculptures belong to Greece,” Mr Corbyn told Ta Nea’s London correspondent, Ioannis Andritsopoulos.
“They were made in Greece and have been there for many centuries until Lord Elgin took them.
“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 interview has since been reproduced and shared by almost all British media outlets over the weekend, attracting both positive and negative feedback. While many were in favour of the return of the Marbles to Greece, arguing that they rightfully belong there, others claimed that the politician has no jurisdiction over the antiquities currently residing in the British Museum.
While Mr Corbyn has been following the campaign for some time, having spoken in parliament in 2014 on the matter, what has yet to be picked up by Australian mainstream media is that the commitment was in part influenced by a figure closer to home.
Brought to Neos Kosmos’ attention by Ms Mikakos, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had sent a letter to Mr Corbyn ahead of his visit to Athens last December, on behalf of the Greek community in Victoria urging the opposition leader to make a formal commitment to the cause.
“The Parthenon Marbles are an integral part of Greece’s cultural heritage, and therefore are very important to the large and vibrant Greek community that reside here in the State of Victoria,” wrote Mr Andrews to Mr Corbyn in a letter obtained by Neos Kosmos.
He went on to say that it would be a good opportunity to “right a historical wrong” and would be a significant “gesture of goodwill” to Greeks around the world.
“In the past, you have made personal remarks calling for the return of the Marbles to Greece and I commend you for this. I write this letter to ask that you seek to formalise this position into the Labour Party’s platform. As such should you be elected to Government, the process of returning the Marbles could begin.”
Dating back to the fifth century BCE, the return of the Parthenon Marbles has long been a subject of contention, having been removed from the Parthenon temple in Athens by the seventh Earl of Elgin, Thomas Bruce in the early 1800s under the instruction of the Ottomans.