This is the bit I’ve never really understood:
As if Brexit tensions were not bad enough, Brussels has opened a new row with the UK by backing Greece’s long standing claim over the Elgin marbles.
When the UK and Greece were both European Union members, the bloc tried to remain above the fray and adopted a position of studious neutrality in the dispute.
However, a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Elgin marbles were not being returned to Greece the Greek EU commissioner announced it backed Greece’s claim.
Margaritis Schinas, European Commission’s vice president for Promoting the European Way of Life, said: “The marbles belong in the Parthenon. In these difficult times, universal cultural heritage should uplift humanity, not divide it.”
Sure, there’s joy to unpack there. The Greek commissioner would say that, the club will rally around the member, not the outsider. But why is it that the marbles do belong to Greece?
For a start, Greece didn’t in fact exist at the time. There never actually had been an entity, a political unit, called Greece either. So quite why what is now called that should own something removed before its existence is unknown. You know, the Spain and Ceuta argument, we can have it because we’ve have since before Morocco existed?
But very much more importantly, peeps have been stealing art from other people all the time. Should those lions in Venice go back to Istanbul? There’s likely to be some statue or three in Rome that turned up from Greek settled areas a couple of thousand years back. The Louvre is going to look pretty naked without what Napoleon brought back from Italy.
Even if we agree that it was looting, illegal looting at that, what makes the marbles different? What construction insists that the marbles go to Athens but Schliemann’s Gold stays in Moscow, instead of returning to Berlin where it was looted from? Or, even, of course, Troy?