THE Green Party yesterday put forward a resolution in Parliament, calling on Britain to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece.
Party leader George Perdikis said, “a special committee is working on their return and I believe Parliament will vote in our resolution by the end of the summer. We are yet another voice calling for the Marbles to be returned.”
In Britain, a court case over art looted by the Nazis could pave the way for the Marbles to be returned to Greece. The two countries have long disputed ownership.
Britain's Attorney-general, Lord Peter Goldsmith, has asked the High Court to establish whether the British Museum – home to treasures like the Marbles and the Rosetta Stone – has a moral duty to return property obtained improperly.
The museum wants to return four Old Master drawings stolen by the Nazis from a Jewish collector in the 1930s but British law prevents it disposing of anything in its vast collection.
If the court rules that Lord Goldsmith – the Government's top legal advisor – can give his permission for the works to be returned, it could prompt demands for the museum to hand back other works.
“It would allow them to return any items in their collection if they thought there was a moral obligation to do so,” said a spokesman for the Attorney-general's office.
But final permission for any works to leave the country would always lie with the Attorney-general, he added. Lord Goldsmith has reserved judgment on whether he will allow the Old Masters to be returned once the High Court has made its ruling.
The Elgin Marbles, a series of statues and fragments, were removed from the Parthenon in Athens by British ambassador Lord Elgin in the early 19th century and sold to the British museum.
Greece has demanded them back almost ever since, most recently for last summer's Olympic Games.
The museum said at the time that returning the friezes would rip the heart out of a collection that tells the story of human civilisation.
The Times newspaper has reported that UK ministers could stop the British Museum returning the looted artworks because of fears that they might pave the way for Greece to make a legally binding claim on the Marbles.