Parthenon Skulpturen

Advocating for the Return of Parthenon Sculptures at the AEJ Conference

The annual Association of European Journalists (AEJ) conference is a prestigious gathering of journalists and media professionals from across Europe. This year, I had the privilege of attending the conference, where one of the topics of discussion was the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece. The event brought together renowned journalists, including those from the United Kingdom, who appreciated my perspective on the matter. Here’s a glimpse of my experience and the meaningful interactions that took place.

The Parthenon Sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, have been a subject of controversy for many years. These ancient Greek masterpieces were removed from the Parthenon in Athens by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century and have been housed in the British Museum ever since. The Greek government has long called for their return, arguing that they belong to Greece’s cultural heritage.

Edward Dodwell and/or Simone Pomardi, Descending the marbles at the south-east corner of the Parthenon, 1801-1805, watercolour, 54 x 71 cm.

The AEJ conference provided a platform for me to address a diverse audience of journalists from various European countries. I had the honor of sharing my perspective on the Parthenon Sculptures and the importance of their return to Greece. It was uplifting to see that many of the UK’s most respected journalists in attendance were supportive of the sculptures’ return, albeit with a touch of English humor and a sense of hesitation. They understood the significance of cultural repatriation and the moral imperative of returning these treasures to their rightful home.

AEJ Conference 2023. Mag. Alexandra Pistofidou, Founder and Chair of the Austrian Committee, Parthenon Skulpturen. Photo by Roberto Sciarrone.

During private conversations, often over dinner, we engaged in lively discussions. Their willingness to engage in these conversations showed a genuine openness to exploring the complexities of the issue. It was heartening to see that even though the Parthenon Sculptures have been in the UK for centuries, many were willing to consider the arguments for their repatriation, recognizing the cultural and historical significance of the sculptures to Greece.

One of the highlights of my time at the AEJ conference was the opportunity to meet journalists from Austria. I was particularly excited to share the part of my speech that addressed the scattered fragments of the Parthenon Sculptures found across Europe. I mentioned the two fragments currently located in the Kunst Historisches Museum in Vienna, Austria. They listened with great interest, and it was clear that they, too, appreciated the importance of the Parthenon Sculptures’ return to their place of origin.

Llewellyn King, Executive Producer and Host, “White House Chronicle” on PBS, and other broadcast outlets. Source, Linked in.

In addition, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Llewellyn King, a seasoned and astute journalist with decades of experience in the field, who continues to contribute his wisdom and insight to the world of journalism. Mr King  gave a compelling speech about Artificial Intelligence, accompanied by his lovely wife, Linda Gasparello. After my speech, they approached me and expressed their support for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures. They shared with me their experience of visiting the Acropolis Museum, where they were captivated by both the museum itself and the exhibits. Mrs. Gasparello, in particular, was greatly impressed and couldn’t resist taking numerous photographs. She also purchased two books on the showcased artifacts and added her belief that the Acropolis Museum should stand as a shining example of modern architectural design for all archaeological museums.

AEJ Conference 2023. Mrs Tsaousidou, President of AEJ. Photo by Kyriakos Pierides

I’d like to express my gratitude to Mrs. Tsaousidou, the AEJ president, for inviting me to speak at the conference. Her support for our cause and her commitment to facilitating meaningful discussions among European journalists are greatly appreciated. I’d also like to thank Herr Georg Gstrein for his valuable support of our organization’s efforts to advocate for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures.

In conclusion, my experience at the AEJ conference was enlightening and heartening. It was a testament to the power of open dialogue and the potential for change when influential voices unite in support of a just cause. The return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece is a matter of cultural preservation and ethical responsibility, and I am grateful for the chance to share this perspective with journalists from across Europe. As we continue our efforts to promote cultural repatriation, let us remember the Latin phrase “Ars longa, vita brevis,” which reminds us that art endures while life is fleeting. It is our duty to ensure that these priceless masterpieces return to their rightful home, where they can be admired and appreciated for generations to come.

Mag. Alexandra Pistofidou

Founder and Chair of the Austrian Committee for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.

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