Photo taken on Aug. 3, 2020 shows a part of the Pediment of the Parthenon made of plaster at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece. Greece is stepping up efforts for the permanent return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens prior to the next year's 200th anniversary of 1821 Greek War of Independence, Greek Culture and Sports Minister Lina Mendoni told Xinhua in a recent interview. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos) e
by Alexia Vlachou
ATHENS, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Greece is stepping up efforts for the permanent return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens prior to the next year's 200th anniversary of 1821 Greek War of Independence, Greek Culture and Sports Minister Lina Mendoni told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Their repatriation from the British Museum is a national priority, she said.
"The Parthenon Sculptures exhibited in the British Museum are the product of theft," stressed the minister.
The Greek sculptures have been the subject of dispute between Athens and London for decades.
In the early 19th century, while Greece was still under Ottoman Empire rule, half of the sculptures of the Parthenon temple, which was constructed 2,500 years ago on the Acropolis hill, were removed by Lord Elgin, a UK diplomat at the time, and ended up at the British Museum in London.
Since the establishment of the Greek state a few years later, Greeks have repeatedly asked for the repatriation of the Parthenon sculptures.
"The Parthenon was dismembered, broken into pieces and then looted," president of the Acropolis Museum, Professor Dimitrios Pandermalis told Xinhua.
The marble friezes that once adorned the Parthenon and are on display at the British Museum make up approximately 60 percent of the total remaining sculptural material, he explained.
The need for their reunification with the other 40 percent in Athens, is a cultural imperative, the professor stressed.
"It is important the sculptures that lie separated in Athens and in London to be assembled again. A new interpretation will come up from this unity and will be treated as such. They will not be just pieces, but complete forms," he argued.
Pandermalis is among the members of a new advisory committee that has been set up in Athens recently for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.
Greece steps up efforts for the return of marble sculptures in collaboration with international committees dedicated to the cause.
The primary aim of the 17 international committees -- from New Zealand to Brazil and Britain to Russia -- is to reunite the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens.
Mendoni underlined the vital role played by the international committees, saying "We undertook a series of initiatives along with the support of the committees to keep the issue alive, because we believe that it can be used as leverage to the British museum."
The minister believed that the timing is crucial considering the UK's departure from the European Union.
"I believe that a move like that (the return of the sculptures) would enhance the ties between the European continent and the United Kingdom."
Greece is going to host an international meeting next year bringing all the committees together for the official launch of the new campaign.