With the 200th anniversary of the removal of the Parthenon Marbles from Athens by Lord Elgin the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) on Wednesday initiated a collection of signatures in Cyprus, calling for their return to Greece.
In a statement, CNA Chairman Larkos Larcou said the initiative undertaken by the CNA aims to ensure the issue of the marbles stays in the global news on the occasion of exactly two centuries from their unlawful removal from the historic monument of the ancient Acropolis of Athens.
“It is important that many people use all ways at their disposal until the day of their return,” Larcou said.
Keeping this in mind, the campaign seeks to involve others who can contribute in their own ways.
“CNA will take over the handling of the declaration which has been prepared on the subject, and collect signatures from government and state officials, the church leadership, ministers, MPs, party leaders, celebrities and heads of organised groups across the range of political, economic and social life of the country,” deputy head of the CNA Giorgos Penintaex explained.
For 2017 a series of events is planned, among them lectures, presentations to targeted audiences and an international conference. The CNA as a journalistic organisation will interview prominent figures related to the topic and will display relevant audio-visual material, Penintaex added.
The declaration calls on the return of the Parthenon sculptures to their natural and historic environment as they are an integral part of the ancient temple. According to the CNA statement, they were stolen by Lord Elgin, illegally transported to the UK and remain in the British Museum despite many efforts to lobby for their return.
The collection of stone objects – sculptures, inscriptions and architectural features – were taken by Lord Elgin from the Parthenon in Athens between 1801 and 1805, during his time as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, of which Athens was a part.
According to the British Museum, Elgin did not steal them, but took them with the knowledge and permission of the Ottoman authorities. Being passionate about ancient Greek art, he transported the sculptures to Britain by sea.
The Parthenon is regarded as one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments. Built nearly 2,500 years ago as a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, it was for a thousand years the church of the Virgin Mary of the Athenians, then a mosque, and finally an archaeological ruin. By 1800 only about half of the original sculptural decorations remained.