The United Nation’s cultural agency UNESCO said it has agreed to act as arbiter in a long-running dispute between Greece and England over the stolen Parthenon Marbles.
Greece gains some international credibility in its bid to have the marbles, removed 200 years ago from the famed monument on the Acropolis by a British diplomat, Lord Elgin but it’s likely to end the same way it always has: with the British Museum keeping the marbles.
That’s because United Kingdom officials have no obligation to accept any decision, which would be advisory and non-binding, making it moot even if Greece were to prevail.
“Greece’s aim was just that: the publication of an announcement in which third countries would encourage Great Britain to accept the arbitration process,” Culture Minister Costas Tasoulas told Kathimerini following the UNESCO announcement.
UNESCO’s committee unanimously agreed for the international heritage organization to mediate in talks between the two countries for the return of the marbles.
The British Museum had said the marbles were better displayed in a dark room because Greece had no suitable place to show them. Greece responded by building the new Acropolis Museum with a naturally-lit top floor where they could be seen with the Acropolis looming outside but British officials found other excuses why their country should keep stolen goods.
In a related development, the Greek Culture Ministry has submitted an application with UNESCO to have the ancient city of Philippi in eastern Macedonia listed as a world heritage site.