Times-SKAI columnist: Correcting historical mistakes – Return the Parthenon sculptures


Making a historic turn, the Times of London are for the first time in 50 years in favor of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece.

Speaking to SKAI, the author of the article, Michael Binion, boldly says that times have changed and Athens’ arguments are now unshakable.

The intervention of the flagship of the conservative British press caused smiles of optimism in Athens and enthusiasm as we will see in the fans of the reunification of the sculptures.

Athens finds an unexpected ally in the battle for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. With its main article, the Times of London, Britain’s most historic newspaper advocates the return of the Sculptures, from the British Museum in Athens. The traditional newspaper of the Conservatives is even changing its position for the first time, claiming that the arguments in favor of the return are now indestructible.

Entitled “Uniting the Greek Heritage”, the main article of the newspaper notes that now the argument in favor of the return of the Elgin Marbles to Athens has become sweeping.

Read the interview:

Mr. Binion, here in Athens we were surprised by the main Times article. What changed and did you take this position?

The feeling in Britain is that times have changed and that the prevailing view is that museums should not be in possession of cultural heritage belonging to other countries, which they claim is necessary for their own cultural and political identity. And of course, the Parthenon marbles are key elements of Greek identity and history and the feeling is that Greece has done a lot to make it easier to exchange the Parthenon marbles with some other possible rotating exhibition of classical Greek sculptures.

You know, I’m surprised that a historical newspaper like the Times took that position. Is there a background to this?

Well, the background is actually the changing mood, not only in Britain, but all over the world about what museums belonging to other countries should host. If it has been bought or even given, then it is legal property if it has been stolen or looted or taken by force, then clearly, there are historical mistakes that need to be corrected. And this has already happened with a number of important objects that museums have delivered to the country of origin.

This reversal of the Times has caused a sensation in Britain as well.

To me it is quite a big surprise. The newspaper is one of our oldest. It was founded in 1780 and has a circulation of about 400,000 sheets per day and about 15 million sheets per month. It is a newspaper whose views are, say, center-right and represent what one might call “the established”, that is, educated, professional university graduates who typically read it.

What should we expect from the British government? Do you think we are close to a solution?

The government tried to evade the decision by saying that it was a decision of the British Museum, and they in turn said that it was a government decision and this kind of “carousel” has become ridiculous. That’s one of the reasons we decided it was time to dump her and move on. The decision must be made by the Museum. They are the owners of these wonderful treasures at the moment, but at the same time, there should be a Law of Parliament that will ratify such an agreement, because it was the parliament that originally gave them to the museum.

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