Transcript: The Fight Over the Elgin Marbles | Dec 03, 2018

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and dark gray tie.

A caption on screen reads "A fight set in stone. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says IT HAS BEEN ALMOST
TEN YEARS SINCE THE STUNNING NEW
ACROPOLIS MUSEUM OPENED ITS
DOORS.
IT HAS SEEN PLENTY OF VISITORS
BUT SO FAR HAS NOT ACHIEVED WHAT
MANY SEE AS ITS PRIMARY MISSION,
THE RETURN OF SEVERAL ANCIENT
STATUES KNOWN AS THE ELGIN OR
PARTHENON MARBLES.
DIMITRIOS PANDERMALIS IS
PRESIDENT OF THE ACROPOLIS
MUSEUM AND WE ARE PLEASED TO
WELCOME HIM BACK TO OUR STUDIO
FOR MORE ON THE MUSEUM AND ITS
REPATRIATION EFFORTS.

Dimitrios is in his sixties, clean-shaven and balding. He's wearing rounded glasses, a gray suit, white shirt, and blue tie.

Steve continues SO GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

Dimitrios says IT'S A PLEASURE TO TALK WITH YOU

Steve says LET'S JUST BRING
EVERYBODY UP TO SPEED ON WHAT
YOU ARE ALL ABOUT.
SHELDON IF YOU WOULD, SOME OF
THE BACKGROUND WE MENTIONED...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "The Acropolis museum."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
IT'S BEEN ALMOST TEN YEARS SINCE THE
MUSEUM OPENED IT WAS JUNE OF 2009.
THERE ARE 150,000 SQUARE FEET OF
EXHIBITION SPACE.
THE MUSEUM IS LOCATED 300-METERS
SOUTHEAST OF THE PARTHENON.
1.6 MILLION PLUS VISITORS FROM
JUNE OF 2017 TO MAY OF 20 2018,
THAT'S A 13 PERCENT INCREASE
OVER THE PREVIOUS YEAR THAT'S
THE GOOD NEWS.
850,000 PLUS VIRTUAL VISITORS
FROM JUNE 2017 TO MAY 2018.
AND LET'S CONTINUE.

Another slate reads "Accolades."

Steve reads and says IT'S RANKED 8TH IN TRIP ADVISERS TRAVELER CHOICE AWARDS TOP 25 MUSEUMS FOR 2017.
THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR
CONSERVATION KECK AWARDS.
THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF
ARCHITECTS INSTITUTE HONOUR
AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURE IN 2011.
THE BRITISH GILD OF TRAVEL
WRITERS AWARD AND WITHOUT
FURTHER ADO, DO YOU WANT TO SHOW
SOME PICTURES.
LET'S BRING THESE SHOTS UP.
HERE IS THE ACROPOLIS MUSEUM AND
LOOK AT WHEN A MAGNIFICENT
STRUCTURE IT IS.

A picture shows the huge museum seen from a distance. It has a large esplanade leading up to a tall entrance with two wide columns. Behind it rises a massive structure of glass and steel.

Steve continues THAT'S THE OUT SIDE SHOT AND
LET'S CHECK THE NEXT SHOT OUT AS
WELL.

Another picture shows a terrace of the museum, surrounded by greenery, with a view of the hull on which rises the Parthenon.

Steve continues IT'S JUST A STUNNING VISTA,
BEAUTIFUL LOCATION.
AND BEFORE YOU GET TO TALK IN
2018, WE'RE GOING TO REMIND
EVERYBODY WHAT YOU SAID WHEN YOU
WERE HERE IN THIS STUDIO IN 2010.
OKAY.
GO AHEAD, SHELDON ROLL IT.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "May 21, 2010. Dimitrios Pandermalis. President of the New Acropolis Museum."
In the clip, Dimitrios talks in the studio.

He says LET ME MAKE A
COMMENT BECAUSE MANY PEOPLE
THINK THESE MUSEUMS CONSTRUCTED
FOR PIECES, FOR ART PIECES, THEY
ARE MISSING.
THEY ARE NOT IN ATHENS.
THIS IS NOT TRUE.
THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE
COMPLETE THE ACROPOLIS AND THE
PRIVATE HOUSES AROUND THE
ACROPOLIS WILL HAVE A LOT OF
MASTER PIECES IN THE MUSEUM AND
OF COURSE WE ARE MISSING SOME
PIECES IN THE THIRD FLOOR AS
YOU CORRECTLY SAID.
THESE ARE THE PARTHENON SCULPTURES.

The clip ends.

Steve says EIGHT YEARS LATER
HAVE YOU OVERCOME THE PERCEPTION
THAT THIS MUSEUM WAS BUILT TO
GET BACK THOSE MARBLES?

The caption changes to "You say Elgin, I say Parthenon."

Dimitrios says NO.
I INSIST AND I SAID TEN YEARS
AGO, THE MUSEUM HAS TO PRESENT
THE TOTAL OF THE ACROPOLIS.
IT IS NOT SO WELL KNOWN TO MOST
OF THE VISITORS THAT PRACTICALLY
WE POSSESS ART PIECES FROM TWO
ACROPOLISES.
WE KNOW THE CLASSICAL ACROPOLIS,
THE ACROPOLIS OF PEREGIS BUT
BEFORE THIS YOU HAD ANOTHER
ACROPOLIS, ANOTHER BUILDINGS
WERE DESTROYED BY THE PERSEONS
IN 480 B.C. AND THE RUINS OF THE
BUILDINGS AND ALL THE ARTIFACTS
WERE BURIED AND THEY WERE
DISCOVERED ONLY IN THE LATE 19TH CENTURY.

A picture shows a huge room with several concrete columns where dozens of statues and ancient objects sit on display.

Steve says SO YOU HAVE THOSE
RELICS FROM 2500 YEARS AGO

Dimitrios says YES

Steve says YOU UNDERSTAND I
WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT THE
MARBLES OF COURSE.
THEY ARE STILL IN THE BRITISH
MUSEUM IN LONDON, ENGLAND.
HOW DID THAT MUSEUM TAKE
POSSESSION OF THEM IN THE
FIRST PLACE?

Dimitrios says YOU KNOW, SO THE
STORY OF THE MARBLES IS A LONG
STORY.
IT STARTED IN THE LATE... IN THE
EARLY 19TH CENTURY.
IT'S NOT A MATTER OF A SIMPLE
RETURN OF A CULTURAL CREATION.
THE PARTHENON MARBLES ARE
PRACTICALLY DIVIDED.
THEY ARE FIRST OF ALL DIVIDED
BETWEEN ATHENS AND LONDON AND
HALF OF THEM IN LONDON.
BUT ALSO, PARTICULAR FIGURES,
IMAGES, IT IS WITH SURREALISTIC
THAT WE POSSESS AN AHEAD OF A
FIGURE AND THE BODY OF THE
FIGURE IS IN LONDON.
OR WE POSSESS THE FRONT OF A
WARRIOR AND THE BACK IS IN
LONDON.
WE POSSESS HALF OF THE POSEIDON
AND OTHER IS IN LONDON.

Steve says Someone SAID...
HANDLING THE
STATUE OF DAVID WITH THE HEAD IN
FLORENCE AND AN ARM IN ANOTHER
PLACE.
YOU HAVE A FOOT, THEY HAVE THE
SLINGSHOT.
YOU CAN SEE HOW SILLY THAT IS.

The caption changes to "Dimitrios Pandermalis, @acropolismuseum."

Dimitrios says UNFORTUNATELY,
THE WAY THAT THE TEAM OF LORD
ELGIN REMOVED THIS PIECES WAS
NOT APPROPRIATE.

A drawing appears of a man in rich early 19th century attire.

Dimitrios continues TO CUT PIECES... TO CUT MARBLE
BLOCKS INTO PIECES OR TO TAKE
THE FRONT WITH THE SCULPTURE AND
LEAVE BACK THE OTHER PIECE OF
THE MARBLE IS REALLY
UNBELIEVABLE THAT IT WAS
HAPPENED THIS WAY.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says WE JUST SAW A SHOT
OF LORD ELGIN AND I WANT TO ASK
YOU ABOUT WHAT MODERN DAY
BRITISH OFFICIALS WHO SAID A
DECADE AGO, WE CAN'T RETURN THE
ELGIN MARBLES TO GREECE BECAUSE
WE ARE NOT SURE THAT GREEK
OFFICIALS HAVE THE SKILL TO TAKE
CARE OF THEM."
THAT IS NO LONGER THE CASE
PRESUMABLY, IF TO EVER WAS, IS
THAT RIGHT?

Dimitrios says WE CAN PROVE...
WE COULD PROVE INTERNATIONALLY
THAT WE ARE VERY... WE MADE HUGE
PROGRESS IN RESTORATION, AND I
THINK OUR RESTORERS ARE TOP.

Steve says IF THAT IS THE CASE
WHAT'S THE EXPLANATION FOR
BRITAIN NOT RETURNING THESE
OBJECTS TODAY?

Dimitrios says THEY ACCEPTED
THAT THE CONDITIONS IN OUR
MUSEUM IS EXCELLENT, AND I
APPRECIATE THAT.
IT'S THEIR OWNERSHIP RIGHTS, SO
WE POSSESS IT AND WE DON'T GIVE BACK.

Steve says I'M GOING TO ASK OUR
DIRECTOR CAN YOU ROLE THIS NEXT
CLIP.

A clip shows a man looking at intricately carved marble slates on display in a massive room.

Steve continues HERE IS THE ACROPOLIS MUSEUM.
TAKE US THROUGH THIS,
MR. PANDERMALIS AND TELL US WHAT
WE'RE LOOKING AT HERE.
IS THIS THE GRAND HALL?

Other shots in the clip show pieces of marble missing, replaced with copies in a whiter material.

Dimitrios says THIS IS THE PARTHENON AND THIS IS THE EAST FRIEZE.
OUR TARGET WAS TO MAKE CLEAR TO
VISITORS HOW TODAY COULD BE SEEN
PARTHENON SCULPTURE AS A TOTAL.
WHAT WE NEED IS THAT MANY PEOPLE
AROUND THE WORLD REALIZE THIS
ISSUE, THIS PROBLEM, AND I THINK
WE MADE THIS PROBLEM FROM ORAL,
WE MADE IT VISUAL IN THE
ACROPOLIS MUSEUM AND PEOPLE CAN
REALLY ENJOY WHAT IT IS,
EXPECTING OR CREATING THE
EXPECTATION THAT ONE DAY, THE
ACROPOLIS WE PRESENT IN OUR
MUSEUM WILL BE REPLACED BY THE
ORIGINALS FROM LONDON, OF COURSE, I THINK I CAN UNDERSTAND THE OTHER SIDE AND I
WOULD SAY NO MUSEUM'S DIRECTOR
GIVES BACK ANYTHING.
THIS IS I WOULD SAY HUMAN.
BUT THE NEXT STEP YOU HAVE TO
THINK WHAT IS THE REASON FOR
CLAIMING BACK THIS PIECES?
THE REASON IS ONLY ONE, TO
COMPLETE THIS CRUCIAL MONUMENT
IN HUMAN HISTORY.
I THINK THIS REALLY SAW THAT FOR
THE FIRST TIME WE HAVE ALL THE
PARTHENON FREEZE, THE PRESENT SAYINGS OF
SOCIETY, OF REAL SOCIETY IN THE
WORLD AND ALL THE PROCESS FOR
THE CREATING THE PARTHENON
BUILDING AND THE PARTHENON
SCULPTURE WAS FOR THE FIRST
TIME IN HISTORY, REAL DEMOCRATIC
PROCESS.

Steve says I GATHER AMAL
CLOONEY IS INVOLVED IN YOUR CASE
AS WELL.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THIS.

In a clip, Amal Clooney walks with Dimitrios as they examine the marbles.

Dimitrios says THIS IS COMPLICATED WITH THE LEGAL ISSUE.
I THINK IT'S MORE A MORAL ISSUE.
OF COURSE YOU CAN SAY WHAT MEANS
MORAL TODAY?
IT MEANS SOMETHING.

Steve says YOU HAVE HAD AS WE
SUGGESTED OFF THE TOP MORE THAN
12 AND A HALF MILLION VISITORS
TO TO DATE WHICH IS A LOT BUT IT
IS BELOW YOUR EXPECTATIONS: HAS
THE LACK OF HAVING THE ELGIN
MARBLES THERE HURT YOUR
ATTENDANCE FIGURES DO YOU THINK?

The caption changes to "A new ancient museum."

Dimitrios says TODAY THE MUSEUM
IS CROWDED.
WE HAVE SIX TO 7,000 VISITORS.

Steve says I'M TOLD YOU
EXPECTED 2 MILLION A YEAR.
IT HASN'T BEEN 2 MILLION A YEAR.

Dimitrios says OKAY.

Steve says I'M NOT ASKING YOU
TO BE A SMART ASS BUT I'M ASKING
BECAUSE DO YOU THINK NOT HAVING
THE ELGIN MARBLES HAS KEPT YOUR
ATTENDANCE FIGURES LOWER THAN
THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN?
ATTENDANCE FIGURES LOWER THAN
THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN?

Dimitrios says I'M SURE WE
WOULD HAVE AN INCREASE IN THE
VISITOR NUMBERS IF THIS SHOULD
HAPPEN.
I MEAN, IT IS... THE WHOLE
PROCESS... THE REUNIFICATION IS
NOT A SIMPLE PROCESS.
IT WILL LAST SOME YEARS AND I
THINK IF IT COULD HAPPEN THAT...
WE HAVE TO DO THAT AT THE FRONT.
IT IS A HUGE EVENT.
AND I LIKE TO GO BACK TO THE
RELATIONSHIP TO THE BRITISH
MUSEUM.
THE MUSEUM HAS A GOOD
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BRITISH
MUSEUM BECAUSE BOTH THINK THAT
WE HAVE TO PROMOTE THE KNOWLEDGE
ABOUT THE QUALITY OF THE
MARBLES.
THE DIFFICULT POINT IS THE
REUNIFICATION.

Steve says I WANT TO READ
SOMETHING THAT HAS TO DO WITH
THE POLITICS BETWEEN GREECE, THE
EUROPEAN UNION, AND GREAT
BRITAIN.
SO STAND BY.
THIS IS FROM THE GUARDIAN.
LET US TALK BRASS KNUCKLES
POLITICS HERE...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "And now, Brexit." The quote reads "Greeks continue to care deeply, and Brexit has provided an opportunity for their government to exercise some pressure. After all, the UK government will need approval from all EU member states if a Brexit deal is reached. Rather cannily, last month Greece's then culture minister, Lydia Koniordow, sent a letter to Jeremy Wright, our culture secretary, requesting the opening of negotiations regarding the marbles. It's ironic that, at a time when Brexit has revived the sort of jingoistic imperialism that turns many a remainer's stomach, such symbols of British cultural chauvinism should be questioned."
Quoted from Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, The Guardian. September 25, 2018.

Steve says WOULD GREECE STAND IN THE WAY OF THE UNITED KINGDOM LEAVING THE
EUROPEAN UNION IF THE MARBLES
ARE NOT RETURNED?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."
Then, it changes again to "Is repatriation possible?"

Dimitrios says IT IS DIFFICULT
TO SAY.
THEY DON'T HAVE NOW THE RIGHT TO
KEEP THE PIECES IF EARLIER AS
MEMBERS OF THE UNITED EUROPE
THEY COULD KEEP THE PIECES.
IT IS AN INDEPENDENT QUESTION
AND I DON'T KNOW OR PERHAPS THE
POLITICIANS KNOW MORE THAN I
KNOW.
FOR ME, IT IS AS I TOLD YOU, A
VERY, VERY DEEP MORAL QUESTION.
IF WE SAY THE PARTHENON IS A
SYMBOLIC MONUMENT, IF WE ACCEPT
THAT WE HAVE THE PERFECT
SCULPTURES IN HUMAN HISTORY, TO
KEEP DIVIDED, IS SO UNBELIEVABLE
FOR ME.

Steve says I UNDERSTAND THAT
IT'S A SYMBOLIC AND MORAL
ARGUMENT FOR YOU.
THE OTHER SIDE ARGUES, THE
LOUVRE, THE BRITISH MUSEUM, THE
METROPOLITAN MUSEUM, THEY ARGUE
THAT THEY ARE THE CULTURAL
REPOSITORIES OF THE WHOLE WORLD
AND THAT TAKING ANY PIECES AWAY
FROM THEM ADVERSELY HAS AN
IMPACT ON THEIR REPUTATION
INTERNATIONALLY.
IS THAT A FAIR ARGUMENT?

Dimitrios says NO.
WE DON'T SPEAK ABOUT
REPATRIATION FOR EVERYTHING,
WHICH WAS IN DIFFERENT PERIODS
OF HISTORY.
WE SPEAK ONLY ABOUT A VERY
SPECIFIC MONUMENT FOR A VERY
SPECIFIC CASE.
I CAN UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS NOT
EASY TO ACCEPT IT, BUT THIS IS
THE REALITY.

Steve says YOU THINK IT MIGHT
BE GOOD PUBLIC RELATION FOR
BRITAIN TO DO IT AS WELL?

Dimitrios says YES, IT WOULD

Steve says IT WOULD BE?

Dimitrios says YES, IT IS A
GESTURE...

Steve says GENEROSITY.

Dimitrios says CULTURAL...
EXTRA CULTURAL BEHAVIOUR.

Steve says IT'S NOT LIKE THEY
HAVE NEVER RETURNED ANYTHING
BEFORE, RIGHT.
THE BRITISH MUSEUM DID RETURN
SOME OF THE ANTIQUITIES THAT
WERE LOOTED FROM IRAQ DURING THE
U.S. INVASION.
THEY HAVE RETURNED SOME OF THOSE
PIECES, NOT THEY ELGIN MARBLES
BUT SOME OF THOSE PIECES.
WHAT DO YOU READ INTO THAT?

Dimitrios says THEY ARE AGAIN
DIFFERENT CASES.
IT IS A DIFFERENT THING IF YOU
CAN PROVE THAT IN RECENT TIMES
SOMETHING WAS REMOVED.
OR, FOR EXAMPLE, SOMETHING CAME
THROUGH ILLICIT TRADE INTO A
NORTH AMERICAN MUSEUM AND YOU
EXCAVATE AND YOU FIND ANOTHER
PART WHICH FITS WITH WHAT IS NOW
ABROAD, SO YOU SENT SO SPECIAL
AUTHORITIES AND YOU CAN DEMAND
THIS, THEN OF COURSE WE HAVE
MANY RETURNS.
THE ITALIANS BROUGHT A LOT OF
THINGS AND THE GREECE BROUGHT A
LOT OF THINGS OF DIFFERENT
MUSEUMS AROUND THE WORLD.
BUT, THIS IS A MODERN CRIMINAL
PROCESS.
ILLEGAL.
BUT WHAT HAPPENED IN HISTORY IS
MORE COMPLICATED.

The caption changes to "Producer: Sandra Gionas, @sandragionas."

Steve says MR. PANDERMALIS WE
ARE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR VISIT HERE
AT TVO TONIGHT AND THANK YOU FOR
SHARING YOUR VIEWS.

Dimitrios says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Watch: The Fight Over the Elgin Marbles