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Greece launches int'l campaign for repatriation of Parthenon marbles

ATHENS, June 26 (Xinhua) -- A new international campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon marbles was launched on Thursday during a conference at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

The campaign, carried out in collaboration with the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation and Melina Mercouri Foundation, and entitled "Return (the marbles), Restore (Parthenon), Restart (history)", has as its main objective to increase awareness and repatriate the Parthenon marbles currently displayed at London's British Museum.

British Museum officials have rebuffed repeated Greek requests for the return of the 2,500-year-old marbles removed from the Parthenon in 1806 by Lord Elgin, British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire when it ruled Greece.

"I won't stop fighting for the reunification of the Parthenon marbles and for a different transnational confrontation of the cultural heritage monuments that have lost their way, but not their voice and identity," UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna V. Vardinoyiannis said during the conference.

The repatriation of Parthenon marbles was characterized as a national issue by the President of the Acropolis Museum, Professor Dimitris Pantermalis.

"It is very important for a nation to be well prepared when it claims something, and the Acropolis Museum has completed this procedure," he said.

Greek and foreign experts and activists participated at the international meeting giving their support to this international project.

With the international campaign "Return, Restore, Restart" starts a new future for the Parthenon marbles and in this future Greece is not alone, so its fight is not a national heritage matter but an international one, participants claimed.

"Greece has 16 countries and committees by its side, along with the majority of the public worldwide, including British people who want the return of Parthenon marbles," President of the Committee for the Reunification of Parthenon Marbles David Hill stated.

"It should not be forgotten that the best defender of all this is, beside the Authorities, are the citizens for whom such a precious heritage is part of their 'soul'," Mounir Bouchenaki, honorary counsellor of UNESCO said.

Following the conference, a nationwide survey among the Greeks on the importance of the return of the marbles will be held for the first time.

The results of the conference and the survey will be submitted by Mrs.Vardinoyannis to the director-general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, during the annual meeting of UNESCO's Goodwill Ambassadors, scheduled to be held in Paris on June 30.

The new campaign continues on the path paved three decades ago by late artist and culture minister of Greece Melina Mercouri.

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