Tony Blair wished to provide Elgin Marbles to Greece in ‘bargaining chip’ | Politics | News | EUROtoday

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Tony Blair’s Government explored the thought of lending the disputed treasures again to their nation of origin as a part of a deal to land the video games.

Mr Blair’s senior adviser Sarah Hunter advised him the marbles might be a “bargaining chip” in successful allies for the International Olympic Committee votes.

The Premier wished to nominate Lord David Owen, a former Labour Foreign Secretary, to supervise the diplomatic mission with the Athens Government.

Secret recordsdata from the Blair years reveal the mortgage plan was raised in autumn 2002 2003 after the New Labour chief met his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis.

Now declassified and obtainable for public scrutiny on the National Archives, Kew, they embrace a memo outlining the plan.

The marbles taken by Lord Elgin in 1801 have been a “unique monument”, consisting of greater than 100 classical sculpted figures overlaying half the unique 524ft doric frieze.

Ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics, Greece deliberate a “100 billion Euro purpose-built museum” subsequent to the Acropolis, to place the “reunified pieces as close to their real context as is possible.”

It continues: “Our proposal for the return constitutes proposal for a joint innovation in cultural policy from which both Britain and Greece benefits.”

“It is proposed that the restitution of the Marbles be carried out in the form of a long-term loan from the British Museum to the New Acropolis Museum, bypassing the issue of ownership of the Marbles.”

“Greece would undertake to provide new and changing important temporary exhibitions of Greek antiquities in the British Museum, including exhibits never seen outside Greece and in some cases, not yet exhibited within Greece.”

But Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell headed off the plan, saying they need to depart dialogue about sending the Marbles again to the British Museum trustees.

Ms Hunter raised the problem once more the next 12 months, when Labour have been planning the ultimately-successful bid for the 2012 Olympics.

She tells Mr Blair: “The Greek campaign to have the Elgin Marbles back is entering a more energetic phase, driven by the 2004 Athens Olympics and the Presidency.”

“The Marbles could be a powerful bargaining chip in IOC vote building for a 2012 Olympic bid.”

“The publicity attached to this move could secure the Greek nomination and help garner a wide range of other IOC votes.”

She warns although: “We would have to guard against other nations asking for reciprocal acts.”

Ms Hunter additionally notes that the British Museum trustees have been suspicious in regards to the Greek’s motives.

“The Trustees and the Director remain firmly of the view that, once the Marbles are back on Greek soil, the Government will pay any price to retain them there, leaving the BM with a hole at the centre of their collection.”

“The BM – and the wider Museums and Galleries community – fear this will set a precedence that might result in more, equally significant losses in the future.”

The Marbles have been by no means supplied as much as the Greeks however London received the key vote for the 2012 Olympics.