Greece has backed off a threat to sue the United Kingdom for the return of the Elgin Marbles, a set of sculptures dating to 400 B.C. that were removed from the Parthenon 200 years ago and have been in the British Museum ever since.
Greece’s Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis said Athens would pursue the matter through “diplomatic and political” channels rather than take it to the International Court of Justice.
“One cannot go to court over whatever issue. Besides, in international courts the outcome is uncertain,” Xydakis told the country’s Mega TV.
As we reported late last year, one of the famous sculptures — in the British Museum’s possession since 1816 — went on loan to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. The loan, the first time one of the Elgin Marbles has left the British Museum, infuriated Athens.
The decision not to pursue a legal avenue for the return of the Marbles has “devastated the Greek position,” The Associated Press quotes Dennis Menos of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.