Gus Bilirakis Wants the United Kingdom to Return the Elgin Marbles to Greece

Last week, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, brought out a resolution “calling on the United Kingdom to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.”

Bilirakis and Maloney co-founded and currently both lead the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues. With Greece celebrating the bicentennial of its independence from the Ottoman Empire, Bilirakis brought out a resolution to honor it last week.

“The marbles were removed from Greece 200 years ago by Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin and transported to Great Britain. The marbles were part of a frieze that wrapped around the Temple of Athena. In 1816, the British Parliament voted to purchase the marbles and they now reside in the British Museum. Despite years of efforts by the Greek government to reclaim the marbles, it has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its British counterparts to return the marbles to Greece,” the congressman’s office noted.

“As we celebrate the bicentennial of Greek Independence from the Ottoman Empire this year, we cannot forget that Greece continues its fight to have the Parthenon Marbles – some of the country’s greatest examples of artistic expression and beauty – returned to their rightful home,” said Maloney. “The Parthenon Marbles are vital pieces of Greece’s history and the people of Greece and those who visit from all around the world to see the magnificence of the Acropolis should be able to enjoy the marbles in their rightful home. This bipartisan resolution calls on the United Kingdom to finally return these treasures.”

“Art provides a window into history and its expression is liberty,” said Bilirakis. “The Parthenon Marbles were made by the citizens of Athens under the direction of renowned artist Phidias to celebrate the pride and majesty of the city of Athens. To not house and view these citizen contributions in the city they were originally intended does a disservice not only to the people of Athens, but also to the civilization that paved the path for modern democracy and freedom. I sincerely hope to see these original works and other important elements of Hellenic history finally returned to their rightful owner for future generations of proud Greeks to enjoy.”

Bilirakis and Maloney rounded up four co-sponsors for the resolution which was sent to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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