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Cameron on the Parthenon marbles

Duveen Gallery, British Museum © David Gill
The Greek press has picked up on comments made by British Prime Minister David Cameron ("Cameron rules out return of Parthenon marbles", Ekathimerini February 21, 2013). After being asked about the Koh-i-Noor diamond, Cameron added that Britain would not be returning the "Elgin marbles". It is perhaps astonishing, but not surprising, that Cameron is so unaware of the sensitivities of the issue that he does not refer to the architectural sculptures removed from the Parthenon in a more appropriate way.

What is more interesting is the way that Cameron makes the case for the Encyclopedic Museums: "The right answer is for the British Museum and other cultural institutions to do exactly what they do, which is to link up with other institutions around the world to make sure that the things which we have and look after so well are properly shared with people around the world". It has perhaps escaped the notice of Cameron, and his civil servants advising him, that a large number of the signatories of the Declaration on the Universal Museum (which has just "celebrated" its tenth anniversary) have had to return recently surfaced antiquities to countries such as Greece, Italy and Turkey.

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