Axcerpt of interview from Mr. Konstantinos Karamanlis, Prime Minister
Culture is a social investment because the world needs values and humanity
Journalist: Is it meaningful to continue the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles with the same passion, when the British appear negative toward our request, or would it be wiser to change our tactics and start negotiations in a different manner?
Prime Minister: The return of the Parthenon Marbles is a fair request of all the Greeks. It is a request of all the people, regardless of nationality, who visualise the reunification of a mutilated monument belonging to the world cultural heritage. We are dedicated to our goal, the return of the Marbles, and we shall remain so. We have persuasive arguments for our just cause. We feel optimistic that in the end, even the most doubtful will be convinced, and will change their attitude forward the matter. In the meantime, with the creation of the New Acropolis Museum, which is a real masterpiece in museological and architectural terms, we are strengthening our arguments even more.
‘Apogevmatini tis Kiriakis’, June 4th 2004
Georgios Voulgarakis, Minister of Culture
The request for the Parthenon Marbles restoration exceeds our national territories and it has nothing to do with chauvinism, as it is universal. I will always lay emphasis on the uniqueness of the Parthenon, as a universal monument, since this is the determinant of making our demand ecumenical.
This is exactly the way Greeks conceptualize it, but also those who think of it as a self-evident. Today, we are sending this moral to all foreign museums that possess sculptural elements of the Parthenon. At this point, I would like to make clear that the marbles restitution will not set up a claim for other monuments or collections of antiquity.
The case of Parthenon is absolutely distinctive. The reunion of the Marbles is our debt of honor towards history. The museums ought to meet their moral obligations towards the cultural and spiritual coherence of the United Europe. I am hopeful and confident that the restoration of the fragment from Heidelberg will rekindle the conversation for the restitution of the fragmented members of the Parthenon Marbles. I believe in the prospect of a calm and objective dialogue. I also believe in the acquiescence, the cooperation and the mutual help between all the European cultural organizations. I look forward to the power of the future and its positive prospect. For every Parthenon fragment that is been restorated, various “gifts in return” will be offered derived from our wealthy cultural history, as a proof of good will and cooperation. The scientific work that is being held on the Sacred Rock and the forthcoming completion of the New Acropolis Museum predispose for the welcome of all the Sculptures in Greece. All extant members of the Monument will be reunited in the Exhibition Hall of the Parthenon at the New Museum. Inside the hall, a new great and homogeneous collection will be developed, consisting of the Marbles we claim from the British Museum, which were thought as independent from the rest of the monument, since there were separated from their historical and cultural frame. At the Exhibition Hall of the Parthenon, some specific window-cases will remain unoccupied waiting for the restitution of the fragmented Sculptures.
Speech, at the presentation of the first fragment of the Parthenon marbles that was returned in Greece by the University of Heidelberg, September 5th 2006
Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism