26 November, 2005
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday received presidents and members of 12 committees in foreign countries that are campaigning for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
The representatives of the various groups announced plans to create a single worldwide organization for the return of the priceless statues, also known as the Elgin Marbles, that are held at the British Museum in London. The statues on display in the British Museum actually formed part of the sculpted frieze of the Parthenon - which was a structural rather than decorative element of the building - that were removed by Lord Elgin in the 19th century and transported to England when Greece was still under Ottoman rule.
After the meeting, Papoulias thanked them for their "valiant efforts" and stressed that the Parthenon Marbles were "the victims of plunder, in a period of history when the strong had the power of life and death over the weak".
The world now served other values and there was a moral obligation to return the treasures of Greek civilization to their home, he added.
The head of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles Anthony Snodgrass noted that there are currently 15 organizations throughout the world that are striving for the Marbles' return.
The visiting delegation was accompanied by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, who later took them on a tour of the Acropolis.
Earlier on Friday, Tatoulis was also present at a meeting between the delegation and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, where he thanked them for their efforts and stressed the great interest of the Greek side in their return.
Source: Athens News Agency