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 >  Greek culture  >  Marbles legal threat dropped

Greece drops legal threat on Parthenon Marbles

- by Andy Cornish

Greece has dropped its threat to take legal action for the return of the Parthenon marbles.

Greek Culture Minister Aristides Baltas said tactics would switch to a 'diplomatic' campaign to recover the statues and marble friezes from the British Museum.

It's a significant shift for the Geek government that had pledged to force Britain to return the marble snatched from the Acropolis in Athens by amateur archaeologist Lord Elgin in 1803.

The government has dismissed the high-profile legal team headed by Amal Alamuddin, wife of US film star George Clooney.

The minister said the legal battle for the return of the marbles had been axed because: "we risk losing the case".

Greece has repeatedly called on the British Museum to return the 2,500-year-old marble sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon.

The decision to drop legal action triggered a row in the Greek parliament with opposition leaders attacking the stand-down as unacceptable.

The move comes as the UN General Assembly rules that the Parthenon Marbles should rightfully be returned to Greece.

A total of 74 countries backed Greece's call for the return of cultural property as part of ongoing efforts to protect the world's cultural heritage.

The text of the UN decision cites Greece's role as a "cradle of knowledge and culture".

The UN resolution also condemned the destruction of cultural heritage in areas of armed conflict, including occupied territories.

Greek cultural officials were furious when the British Museum refused to take part in talks over the future of the Parthenon Marbles earlier this year.

Museum's director Sir Richard Lambert rejected a United Nations' offer to chair talks over the possible return of the Marbles to Athens.

In a letter to UNESCO officials, the director said the museum's the trustees had 'decided respectfully to decline this request'.

Greeks were also outraged at a decision by the British Museum to ship one of the Parthenon Marbles to an exhibition in Russia last winter.

The secret shipment came after the British Museum claimed that the main reason that the sculptures could not be returned to Greece was because they were too fragile to be moved.

the British Museum has also argued that Greece did not have an acceptable museum in which to display such valuable treasures.

But Greece claims the multi-million-euro Acropolis Museum opened in 2009 is a perfect place to display the marbles with an exhibition area of around 14,000 square metres.