On This Day: Melina Mercouri calls for the Parthenon Marbles to be returned to Greece


On July 29, 1982, then-Minister of Culture in Greece, Melina Mercouri, addressed the World Conference on Cultural Policies organised by UNESCO in Mexico City.

At the conference, Mercouri seized the opportunity to address the issue of the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles to a global audience and demanded they be returned to Greece.

In her speech in front of other Ministers of Culture who attended the conference, she urged for the support of the global community to Greek people’s claim. As she stated in her speech:

“It is now some six months since I dared make the suggestion that these marbles ought to be returned to Greece. Since then a small storm has been raging. But what I find most interesting is the fact that, following an interview with the BBC, I had hundreds of encouraging letters from individuals and organisations in Britain. I detect in these letters the English people’s love of justice and beauty,” Mercouri said.

Mercouri called for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece at a UNESCO conference.

READ MORE: Melina Mercouri: Greek actress and activist who embodied Hellenic spirit.

“We are not naive. And we well understand that the museums cannot be emptied. But I insist on reminding you that in the case of the Acropolis marbles we are not asking for the return of a painting or a statue. We are asking for the return of a portion of a unique monument, the privileged symbol of a whole culture.”

After this enthralling speech at the UNESCO conference, Mercouri immersed herself further in a battle for the repatriation of the Marbles and she wasn’t alone.

READ MORE: Geoffrey Robertson QC holds Australian launch for book on the return for the Parthenon Marbles.

Her vision received wide public acceptance in Greece by academics, middle and working class people, politicians, artists, business circles, as well from other countries.

Melina Mercouri.

In 1981, the year before Melina’s speech, the International Organising Committee – Australia – for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, was established. The committee was the first in the world to campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. 

In 1983, the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles was established. Shortly after this, and following correspondence between the Australian committee and Mercouri, she visited Australia. While in Australia, she asked the inaugural chair of the Australian Committee, Emanuel J Comino, to extend support to the newly formed British Committee.

READ MORE: It’s time to sue: David Hill, Chairman of ‘Australians for the Return of the Parthenon Sculptures’.

Following the continuously expanding influence of the campaign, on October 1984 the Greek government made its first claim for the return of the Marbles and soon received its rejection from the British side.

Since then, the issue of the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles has been in the political and cultural agenda of all consecutive Greek governments.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson rules out return of Parthenon marbles to Greece.

Source: Marblesofparthenon.




By subscribing you accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.


Latest News

Fasolada: Niki Louca shares recipe for baked beans with tuna salad

Fasolada is one of those comfort foods that reminds us of grandparents, Greece, cold days, warm houses, fresh homemade bread.

Hellenic Writers’ Association of Australia call for ‘O Logos’ magazine submissions

The Hellenic Writers’ Association has called on members and Greek Australians to submit original works to the 2024 edition of ‘O Logos.’

Indian Hellenism: Bactria and the Indo-Greek Kingdom

The Indo-Greek Kingdom is arguably the most fascinating of all the Hellenistic Kingdoms, initially emerging from the Greek-Bactrian Kingdom.

2035: The end of the Greek community of Australia as we know it (Part Three)

In his previous article professor A.Tamis, referred to the consequences that will follow the year 2035 for the Australian diaspora.

An invitation to all: The Antipodean Palette Art Exhibition 2024 and Poetry Afternoon

The Greek Australian Cultural League (GACL) will again proudly present the Antipodean Palette Group Art Exhibition 2024.

You May Also Like

New Melbourne rooftop bar set to transport guests back to Mykonos

A incredible Mediterranean-style rooftop bar has brought Santorini to Melbourne to satisfy those dreaming of a Greek holiday.  

Major General Pearce signs off term as Cyprus’ first Australian Commander of the UN Peacekeeping force

January 2021 signals the end of Major General Cheryl Pearce's role as Force Commander of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

Greece’s Foreign Ministry brings more nationals home from war-torn Israel

The Greek Foreign Ministry has announced that a flight chartered for locals has brought home an additional 90 citizens from Israel.