Leading article

If Turkey turns on the West, what hope is there for Syria and Iraq?

Plus: A deal on the Elgin Marbles for Amal Alamuddin Clooney

18 October 2014

9:00 AM

18 October 2014

9:00 AM

Turkey has long been a bridge between the West and the Middle East. Its record on free speech may be lamentable and it treats its Kurdish minority shoddily, but against that stands a genuine will to improve its human rights record and an ambition to become a modern, free and prosperous state. This has long been the basis of Britain’s support for Turkey joining the European Union.

But this week we have seen a reminder of how far the priorities of Turkey’s political establishment are from those of Europe. Its parliament recently consented to the use of an airbase at Incirlik by US forces launching airstrikes against the Islamic State, a move that could dramatically increase the number and effectiveness of such missions. But then President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech that did not just reject launching strikes from the base but seemed to attack the very idea of western intervention in the region, accusing the US of being only interested in securing access to oil wells.

This analysis is paranoid and out of date: the US is on its way to energy self-sufficiency thanks to fracking, so it is a lot less driven by the need for foreign oil. Neither is America, nor the West in general, engaged in a mission which in any way compares with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. We are involved in the fight against IS in Iraq at the invitation of its government. Allied forces have limited themselves to airstrikes and supporting regional forces on the ground. Erdogan’s behaviour, however, brings that strategy into question.

It may seem obvious to us that the over-running of the city of Kobane by IS is an atrocity in the making, occurring under Turkey’s nose as its tanks stand idle. But in Istanbul, any defence of the Kurds is viewed as part of a process which could lead to the creation of a greater Kurdistan. This, for Erdogan, is an obsession: the idea that the Kurds, if empowered (or even defended) could start another civil war in which Turkey might lose about a third of her territory. This may explain why Erdogan looks as if he is prepared to watch the Kurds suffer at the hands of IS. But it does not excuse it.

Britain and America have been drawn back to Iraq because IS has ambitions that go way beyond Syria and Iraq. It aims to create a fundamentalist Islamic state which reaches wherever there are Muslims, and to kill non-Muslims and enslave women and children wherever it finds them.

It is hard to see how secular Turkey, whose constitution admirably treats religion as a matter for the individual, cannot see this as a threat surpassing that of its old enemy President Assad in Syria and out of all proportion to the challenge posed by Kurdish separatism.

Turkey’s apparent volte-face this week underlines how the battle against IS is as much about political vision as it is military strategy.

Somewhere in the Middle East must exist the will to create peace and prosperity in place of dictatorships and religious death cults. But it is going to be a long campaign to draw it out if we cannot find common purpose with a supposed ally and Nato member such as Turkey.


Let’s make a deal, Mrs Clooney

Hollywood has a reputation for creating trite storylines in which either a lawyer is cast as the hero or England as the villain.

Its latest epic has both, and this one is reality. Little more than a week after her marriage to George Clooney, the world’s most photographed barrister, Amal Alamuddin -Clooney, has flown off to advise the Greek government on how to force the removal of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum.

Given the rioting, economic meltdown and general chaos of recent years, it would be easy to think that Greece had more immediate worries than the whereabouts of a set of decorative stones rescued in the early 19th century — with permission from authorities in Athens — to save them from being chiselled away by peasants for -quicklime.

But that misses the point. What would Greek politicians do if the marbles were returned? No longer would they have a patriotic issue to beat their chests about in order to distract from their failures.

In the name of European harmony, we would like to propose a compromise: we will return the Elgin Marbles once Greece has repaid the €240 billion of emergency loans made by EU states during the crisis, and honoured all its government bonds.

Until then, we suggest Greece recognises the role Lord Elgin played in rescuing its deteriorating heritage and accepts that the British Museum has done an excellent job in preserving the marbles and displaying them to scholars and the public alike.

To have a little bit of the glory of ancient Athens in London hardly seems out of line with the spirit of shared European culture.

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Show comments
  • RPrior

    What an extraordinary piece uninformed journalism.

    Turkey used to be an acceptable ally to christian nations.

    That was in a pre-Erdogan era.

    Today in 2014, “Erdogan’s Turkey” is a supporter of Terrorism. The nation is unfit to become part of the European community.

    • Bean

      Who said that the Turk will joint the European community??

      Europe need to sort out their shit, still haven’t recover their economies, lucky Germen was part of it, without Germen Europe is going down the tube.
      best thing that the Turk didn’t join the European.

      • global city

        That’s all true

      • rodger the dodger

        Despite saying “nice” things about Turkey, the EU is constantly moving the goalposts so they won’t qualify.

        In any case, the EU will have collapsed by the time Turkey ever would qualify, no matter the rules.

    • JoeDM

      These days Turkey is unfit to be a member of NATO and should not be considered a friendly nation.

  • AJH1968

    It seemed to suit Erdogan to embroil the West in a war with Hafez Assad not long
    ago (he was livid when western parliaments rejected any intervention against Syria). One can only scarcely imagine the scale of carnage that would follow after the destruction of the Assad regime. Turkey (mainly Erdogan) has actively colluded with Syrian rebels, helping reinforcements cross the border supplying them with arms and ammunition (2000 trucks according to some estimates)

    Given that ISIS has predominantly attacked Kurdish and Iraqi positions with a great deal of vigour and zeal I might add seems to indicate some sort of Turkish government collusion.Indeed if anything how are they able to sustain such energetic campaigns, unless they have very secure lines of communication through Turkey (where else do they obtain equipment to service vehicles, replenish recruits receive training?).

    Joe Biden’s recent comments betray what mainstream Western politicians think but cannot say,Turkey is one the leading causes of regional instability in the Levant and if one takes into account her help in subverting sanctions against Iran, the World.

  • pokiwi

    I agree, this is an ignorant piece of ‘journalism’.

    The US peaked its oil production at around 9 million ballels per day, in1970, Despite hype, it has yet to top that rate. It consumes 18 million barrels per day. Those are the facts. It’s nearly 10 million barrels short, per day, is ‘Saudi America’.

    So the question is: why does a ‘reporter’ indulge in spin’?

    Having been controlled and invaded since William Knox D’Arcy (an Australian) and Doc Reynolds first annexed ‘Persia’, the locals in the Middle East are a tad out of options. Don’t blame them.

    I also suggest that beheading is perhaps more humane than bulldozing folk in sandpits alive
    and that perhaps the word ‘terrorist’ is tagged to the wrong people.

    IS is a result, not a cause. Some folk – and nations – need to consider going ‘mea culpa’. You have to shed all Empirical pretensions first, of course…..

  • Gerschwin

    If we bought them from the Turks lets give them back to the Turks – that’ll really sort the Greeks out.

    • Βόρεια13


    • OK

      You know so much history that you have the audacity to reply in this way. Lets give England back to whatever cave dwellers your origins are from.

  • mandelson

    Mrs Clooney and her role model Geoffrey Robertson QC ungrateful outsiders.

  • Dr. Heath

    Secular Turkey cannot get itself together long enough to vote for one party that will win enough seats to defeat AK. So the peasants’ party and its thieving, retard leader have begun behaving as though there is no opposition at all.

    Even a return to genuine secular rule would not change the fact that Turkey is two nations. Like Iran. Secular Turkey looks to the West and has citizens who want to be free from religion-based fascism while troglodyte Turkey knows nothing but centuries of the vilest forms of misogyny, corruption and fascist authoritarianism smugly mincing about as the supreme expression of religious piety. The former would like to be freed from the latter but emigration will probably remain the only way of doing this for the long term.

    Syria. The Kurds. Potentially vast problems facing both modern and Dark Ages Turkey. Sadly, Turkey has got no modern equivalent of Suleiman the Magnificent to deal with either impending disaster. Instead, it has Erdogan the Retard.

    • Yes, if the ‘modernising’ minority can’t control the majority – which they won’t – then Turkey is heading back to the 7th century – which it is. Turkey has no place whatsoever inside the European Union.

  • Βόρεια13

    We don’t blame you.You have nothing yours, to put in your museums.Keep the marbels,we have tones of history!Be proud for having a museum,with another’s country history.Ppppffff this is humiliating…

    • global city

      stupid insults won’t get them back either…. you Greeks are really bad at diplomacy and making a case for something….unless it’s making a case to a global business to help you cook da books!

      • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

        Funny comment on the fourth most insulting comment here. The other 3 were worse and you did not comment on them. Biased eh? Ok. That’s ok. But what has diplomacy to do with claiming something that belongs to you is not said in your comment. If you are dealing with an honest counterpart you need no diplomacy to get back what you should have. Also, the author of this comment you criticize does not look to me a major player in Greek diplomacy… As you, hopefully are not part of UK diplomacy. By the way, most comments by “pro-Elgin” brits are signed by pseudonyms. So, I cannot check how many of you are not hiding behind them, ashamed for your …opinions.

        • Βόρεια13

          I agree i’m not major in Greek diplomacy,but if you try to convice the people from the country of “nobles” that they have foreign exhibits,that they bought them from someone that wasn’t his property and they can’t understand this simple thing,then it’s not worth continue.Let them have them.It makes us prouder to see british people (and all the people around the world having our history in their museums) prefer our history from theirs…

          • global city

            So what?

            Are you so inward looking that you cannot see the value of a world collection of archaeological treasures. Are you really so fixated in yourselves that If Athens opened up a museum of world history you would all ignore it?

            You all seem to be as backward as goat-herds.

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            Sorry to say that you are wrong Global City. If Athens opened a museum with statues stolen from other countries I would favor them being returned like decent brits do concerning the marbles. Have a look at : http://www.videoman.gr/50980 You do not have to be Greek to want the marbles back to where they belong. Just a decent person.

          • global city

            Hmmmmm….as I say, goat-herds!

            Your definition of stolen is rather lame. Berlin, Paris and New York have collections almost as comprehensive as London. Liverpool, Sydney and San Francisco have collections that would make your capital city blush too.

            Without Western Europe’s interest in the past nobody would even know about Leonadis and Alexander, Plato or Socrates. people only know about them because WE remind them of the greatness of Greece’s past.

            You should take a wider interest in the world.

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            First of all you are doing much better when you talk about things you know. There is nobody very famous called Leonadis. Second, German or French scholars did not learn of Plato by the British for sure. Third, if someone else has stolen too this by no means legitimates theft. Please watch this video by a decent British on how Britain would behave decently by returning Elgin’s …marbles to Greece.

          • global city

            I don’t need to. I am simply criticising what seems to be a national parochialism (in the Greeks), a lack of appreciation of globally significant historic collections and the aggressive and contempt laden attempts to gain back the Elgin marbles.

            the King of Sparta who died at Thermopylae is known in the Anglosphere as Leonidas. I did not say that German and French scholars learnt all they know from Britain (I know that Germans have been particularly important in the Greek and Turkish archaeological fields) but it was largely Britain’s world-wide reach that globalised interest in the Classics of history and myth of both Greece and Rome.

            None of this has any barring on whether the British museum should send the Elgin marbles back to Greece.

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            So many arbitrary statements there, Global City. To start from the last sentence, you started mentioning one after the other all these points and now you say they have no barring on the issue discussed here. I already told you there is no need for diplomacy or logical proofs that a decent behavior is to return things to where they belong. Nevertheless, I also cannot see the agressiveness you mention. Hiring a lawyer to sue someone who has taken something from you without permission is not aggressiveness, it is a right and even an obligation. Parochialism? Have you noticed I speak your language (and another 4-5 apart from Greek)? I know quite a few Greeks doing that. I guess unilinguism is more parochial as it stops you from reading sources which might show you overstate the role of UK in the ….expansion of Greek culture! A last detail: I know Leonidas. I do not know Leonadis.

          • global city

            The Elgin Marbles are in the British Museum though.

            Last point….typos, all over the internet!

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            Like my sister’s bike is at some thief’s garage right now.

          • global city

            and there we go, back to square one…with your backward accusations.

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            That is wrong. Not MY accusations. Watch this video http://www.videoman.gr/50980

          • global city

            Some dumbarsed, left wing cultural relativists making a fetish of attacking their own country….nothing new in that

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            Few points on this. First, Stephen Fry makes this using a well known public name, famous all over the world, not under a pseudonym. Second, recognizing the neighbour’s property rights is not exactly attacking your own country. Third, if we all are just herd goats (I am a person with a real name, remember) because we claim something we thing that belongs to us and all brits who support us are just dumbarsed left wing relativists, why write all this text? You know you are right by birth, I guess. But your method of proof (for a non relativist approach to truth I mean) is not standard, when you ask for diplomacy and good logical arguments.

          • global city

            Your last few lines were typical of the backward and unsophisticated attack of a goat-herd.

            I have mentioned before that I am not questioning Greece’s desire to see the Elgin marbles returned, I am simply mocking the collective Greek ‘diplomacy’ on this and similar threads.

            The disappointment is that a professor has twice missed that point.

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            You may even be a Nobel prize winner but we will never know (from the pseudonym behind which you hide). So it might even be a larger disappointment that you have missed more than twice a simpler point. Diplomacy is unnecessary for claiming back what belongs to you. Also, you can bet I am not part of any country’s diplomacy. How about Global City?

          • global city

            I meant the online ‘diplomacy’ of your fellow countrymen, not some official government representative…it all strikes a familiar theme and approach. Dismissive, superior and aggressive. The internet is a wonderful place for flame wars, even when one is not intending to say anything controversial.

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            I guess you would not like to be held responsible for everything your own fellow countrymen have said or written here and elsewhere. I am not responsible for what each Greek has written on the Internet either. I sign my comments with my name and hope not to have been dismissive, superior or aggressive. But I insist that even I were this would not change whose right it is to claim the Elginian marbles.

  • George Papadopoulos

    To the coward who wrote this article without having the balls to sign it: next time you visit the British Museum make a note of how many of the exhibits are actually of British origin (stuff you stole from colonized nations don’t count). Then visit the Athens Acropolis museum and make note of the origin of the exhibits there.
    A nation’s civilization isn’t measured by capital and corrupt politicians (who of course shame us all Greeks) but rather by what that nation has contributed to the world as a whole. So think of Greece’s contribution and compare it with Britain’s contribution and then think again about who are the peasants of history. And if you cannot understand this, then you are more of a moron than your article suggests.

    • Russell Quinn

      Compared to Britain Greece has contributed next to nothing.

      • Tjololo

        What you just said is sooooooo funny….
        Greece is the cradle of western civilization. Every single aspect of modern western type of life was either invented or created by the Greeks.
        Maths, philosophy, politics, art and science, medicine, astronomy, physics, architecture…..you name it….
        So literally speaking….daring to compare Greece’s contribution to any other country at all….is pure sacrilege

        • Russell Quinn

          Yes it’s like you gave us basic math and we went away and built a jet engine. If you compare great inventions from Britain and look at great inventions from Greece you will soon get my point. cave men came up with fire but we don’t credit them with nuclear fusion.

          • Tjololo

            Great inventions from Britain (and other countries too) would never…ever…ever exist if it wasn’t for ancient Greece.
            We made the foundation of the “building”…..you came years later and decorated the 86th floor…..THESE ARE THE TRUE PROPORTIONS.

    • will91

      Greece made very meaningful contributions to Civilisation…about two and half thousand years ago. 😉

      Britain carried the torch, first lit by Greece across the entire planet, to America, to Australia, Singapore, India.

      Greece contributed Ideas and ideas only. Britain pioneered industry, technology and transport. The movement of capital. Silly boy, you know nothing…

      • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

        To call someone silly is more than sufficient an explanation of why you think industry of the 19th century is more relevant than Euclidean geometry. Of course you are excused to undervalue ideas and discoveries that will be there after another 4000 years against inventions that are obsolete after a decade. No problem.

        • will91

          No one can deny the influence of these ideas on movements such as the industrial revolution.

          Yet the fact that these outmoded innovations are the first step in an evolutionary process of further innovations appears to be completely lost on you. I thought Greeks, having championed logic, would be able to grasp such a simple concept….

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            From “silly boy you know nothing” to “an evolutionary process of further innovations” is quite a progress. As you mentioned logic, I am optimistic you will see that if these outdated first steps were important, then, “a fortiori”, other much older first steps which are not even outdated after thousands of years, they must be even more important.

          • will91

            Is your basic thesis this:

            The contribution made by other nations in science and industry will have always be outdone by Greece because it was home to ancient thinkers who put first put forward ideas about mathematics e.t.c?

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            By no means! Thinkers like Kafka, Cervantes or Godel made contributions which affect people’s lives today even more than the first day they presented their work to humanity. Have a look at the webpage on the 100 most important math theorems in history. Some of them by the Babylonians and others from the 20th century, all actual and alive like the first day. Euler has 7 among them! Euclides, thousands of years before, another 7. Pythagoras 2 in the first 4! Some moments of our civilization led to incredible contributions. Others were more modest but all necessary. However, it is not a matter of recency but of relevance. So, one criterion to use is: “is the industrial revolution taught in the physics or the history class?” “Is Pythagoras’ theorem taught in history or in geometry?” Then you can tell which is intertemporally relevant. Of course, I know each country promotes its own stuff but each of us should use a reasonable filter to tell what is really true from the noisy information we get from our ethnocentric educational systems.

          • edlancey

            Kafka ? Have you been at the Ouzo ?

    • colchar

      When Greece returns every single thing in its museums that came from another country Britain will return the marbles. Deal?

      As for which country made a bigger contribution – Greek did make a contribution and have an impact millenniums ago but Britain contributed as much, or more, fare more recently. What has Greece done in the last 1500 years, other than decide that barber was a dangerous occupation that allowed one to retire early or decide that pensions transferred to ones descendants?

      • Tjololo

        “When Greece returns every single thing in its museums that came from another country Britain will return the marbles. Deal?”

        Which items specifically do you have in mind? All museums in Greece host only Greek antiquities

    • Alexsau91

      I don’t think there’s a country in the world that has contributed more to the world than Britain. You can’t attribute all advances in science to the Greeks simply because it possessed many of the earliest thinkers.

      Oh, and one of those contributions was, by the way, the independence of your country from the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which numerous British servicemen lost their lives to secure.

      • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

        It is very nice to be proud of your country, but you could think in a more universal way to challenge some unfounded claims like being the country that has contributed the most, etc. I just repeat what I am writing on this replying to another comment:Have a look at the webpage on the 100 most important math theorems in history. Some of them by the Babylonians and others from the 20th century, all actual and alive like the first day. Euler has 7 among them! Euclides, thousands of years before, another 7. Pythagoras 2 in the first 4! Some moments of our civilization led to incredible contributions. Others were more modest but all necessary. However, it is not a matter of recency but of relevance. So, one criterion to use is: “is the industrial revolution taught in the physics or the history class?” “Is Pythagoras’ theorem taught in history or in geometry?” Then you can tell which is intertemporally relevant. Of course, I know each country promotes its own stuff but each of us should use a reasonable filter to tell what is really true from the noisy information we get from our ethnocentric educational systems.

  • Tasos D.

    George Gordon Noel Byron, 6th Baron Byron in 1809 has scratched
    on one of this marble stones:

    Quod non fecerunt Gothi, fecerunt Scoti»

    Why British Museum doesn’t display this stone??

  • Murphy

    “it would be easy to think that Greece had more immediate worries than the whereabouts of a set of decorative stones rescued in the early 19th century — with permission from authorities in Athens — to save them from being chiselled away by peasants for -quicklime.”

    “Rescued”??? You mean bruttaly chopped off with axes and hammers, removed from the monumnet, shipped to England and then bleached by employees of the British museum so that they look brighter and used as decoration for dinner parties hosted for the parasitic aristocracy?

    By the way, the rest of the monument remains intact; the only damage if has suffered was caused by the artillery fire of a Venetial admiral in the 16th century. All the fragments have been found and recorded. If us horrible Greeks had “chiselled them away”, etc, how come the parts Elgin did not loot remain in perfect condition and are on display in Athens?

    Apart from showing a typical combination of arrogance and ignorance, this anonymous article serves no other puprose.

    • global city

      What is it about the Mediterranean psyche that so many of them can be spun like idiots by their corrupt politicians into raging about unimportant things in far off lands, rather than retain their focus on those same politicians who set them on the rage?

      They respond like those peasants do in response to cynical imams telling them to rage about a cartoon or something.

      Are they all idiots?

      • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

        I see you refrain from replying to reasonable and founded comments on your questions and started posting provocative absurdities elsewhere. What has this you say here have to do with whether you should return antiquities to the country they belong?

      • Murphy

        Well, perhaps it is because we are not single-cell organisms only capable of performing one and only function at a time.
        It may not fit your patronising worldview, but people outside germanic countries can also do two things at once, i.e. focus on getting rid of bad politicians AND trying to correct a historical injustice.

        • global city

          My case is that none of the Greeks who troll the internet on this subject never make a logical case, but instead make stupid insulting, emotion-led moans that are bound to get a negative response. Your post further confirms this fact.

        • NorthernFirst

          “It may not fit your patronising worldview, but people outside germanic countries can also do two things at once, i.e. focus on getting rid of bad politicians AND try to correct a historical injustice.”

          Regrettably they don’t seem to be very good at actually achieving either.

  • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

    Just two (2) details: 1) Sovereign debt has a finite value while the so called “marbles” have infinite value. If you want a proof, try to exhibit a lot of money in a museum and count how many people will pay a cents to visit it. 2) The government that gave Elgin the so called permission were the Turks. Congratulations for such a sensationalist provocation targeting just a handful of comments and a little more audience at the cost of one more stain on Britain’s foreign policy.

    • colchar

      I take it you’ve never heard that people can pay to take tours of the mint in some countries?

      • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

        Almost right! Really, it means I have never heard such “tours” were as popular as a visit to the Parthenon. Further, thanks for accepting the second part of my comment by omission to reply. Regarding the first part, I am puzzled by your comment. Do you suggest that if a country contributes a lot…like Britain it is entitled to steal others who have not? Because it could sound like an interesting idea for nations who HAVE contributed to a unified Europe, like Germany or France. And this is quite more recent than Britain’s contribution. Nice pseudonym, by the way.

        • global city

          Accusations of theft are really just going to get people’s backs up. Any contribution that Greee made to world civilisation was also utterly tied in with expansion and colonialism.

  • Nick Papadakis

    I support the poor people of Britain but this article shows how silly mr Cameron is allowing the price of ale to stay so low as to create such mental disorder as that.
    When everybody makes an effort to conciliate Greece and UK over the issue of the Elginians the -anonymous- author responds in the pub brawly way you see above.

  • Φούφουτος

    It is at least foolish to compare the origin of the marbles with the Greek debt! These are two different subjects! It is a pitty we are not aware of the name of the jeanious “reporter” that invented such a rediculous comparison!

  • the Greek

    What if Britain pays back the 1.5 trillion debt that owes to its creditors? Then we the generous Greeks we will wave off any damages seeking for the illegal possession of the sculptures for 200 years. It is funny if not ridiculous for the Brits to exhibit Greek heritage in this museum having delusions that belongs to Britain. We appreciate your worship about our Great Greek Civilization but its time to give the sculptures back. Try to replace the section in the British Museum with some British heritage (if any found).

    • Terry Field

      Oh please. greece was a great civilisation.Britian is.
      Get it in proportion.
      The marbles are in the right place; people come to London – it is a great world city.
      Athens is not. It was a couple of thousand years ago, but only enraged creditors go there now – so WHY should the Greeks recover their marbles????
      NO reason.
      And stuff greasy Clooney.

      • Tom M

        “…….WHY should the Greeks recover their marbles?…..”
        I think the answer is in your phrase. Give them back they aren’t ours they belong in Greece.

        • Terry Field

          Wrong again.
          The original Greek owner was Incontifartos Euripdiddlydees, and his direct descendent is Gerald (call me Greekyboy) Dees of Penge, England.
          And he says NO!
          NO! he says. They stay Here!!
          And stuff the wife of the greasy mick

      • Tjololo

        Such poor arguments….
        The Parthenon marbles that you stole are considered a single unit.
        Would you cut of the right arm of a statue to exhibit it in another place, while the rest of the statue remains in the original position?
        How idiotic is that???
        Greece doesn’t ask the whole of the Greek exhibits back…..only the Parthenon marbles…why???
        Because they all together create a sigle piece of art…
        Do you now get the picture?

    • colchar

      Is Greece willing to give back everything in its museums that belong to other countries? Nah, didn’t think so. And to see a Greek talk about any other country’s debt is hilarious!

      • global city

        They actually haven’t got much, so obsessed with themselves are they…. the whole of Greece is like one of those small town museums you get here, that just have stuff about the local council and the bobbin industry or something.

        • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

          This is profound confusion between quantity and quality. I thought you advocated the use of logic. Even the smallest exhibition of local findings in Vergina or the recent tomb in Amphipolis exceed in archeological importance all UK museums together. Ask an expert please before you continue on this.

          • global city

            Really? In your own Greek estimation maybe

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            Really, in my own ability to understand the word archeological, maybe.

          • global city

            It is British cultural pre-eminence, and the British fetish for Ancient Greece that has boosted the cultural value of it to contemporary global society. New Greek finds are no more important to cultures round the world than the latest find of Pre-Incan or those of Khmer.

            I’m actually very interested in archaeology, ancient history….and like most brits, have a particular respect for early Greek society, so you’re actually moaning at the wrong person…. I just wanted to wind you up.

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            Ok, Global City (I am sure your real name would sound better here), but check these other finds’ ages please (not to mention input in today’s world culture and science). I am also great fun of the UK and tend to be especially careful not to use past glory as an excuse for actual misery. The return of something to its actual geographical context is, in fact, unrelated to property rights and international law. It is simply that the Karyatides look nicer where they were supposed to be placed by their creators.

          • global city

            Now we are getting somewhere. It’s not really about past glories, near or very distant…..it is mainly an argument about the current status of world collections in world cities.

            The British Museum has collections that help teach people about all cultures through all time….at least those of which we currently know about.

            I do appreciate the particular significance of the marbles to the Classical period of Greek culture…and I have even argued for them to be returned….but!

            The most of the Greek soured arguments used to try to win the point are little more than absurd.

          • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

            It is funny to say that you need diplomacy and good arguments to have the UK convinced to do the right thing. Instead, some Brits have given pretty nice arguments like S. Fry at: http://www.videoman.gr/50980 and you still seem to ignore them and defend that the originals should be exhibited in London instead of making a nice imitation of what you want to teach to so many people.

  • Richard K.

    “Until then, we suggest Greece recognises the role Lord Elgin played in
    rescuing its deteriorating heritage and accepts that the British Museum
    has done an excellent job in preserving the marbles”
    The purely provocative nature of this article, the boastfulness, the complete lack
    of reality accompanied by slander, are sure signs that something is going well for Greece on it’s quest to have the Parthenon marbles returned. Here’s some of your own medicine, get well soon and try some therapy sessions with the shrink, I’m sure Greece will have enough to cover these for your well being.

  • Dimosthenis Pandis, MD

    The altruism and sense of European brotherhood emanating from the words of the author is astounding!
    If only Lord Elgin exhibited such astounding altruism and not pure thievery and personal satisfaction, it would make John Lennon weep with nostalgia.
    I wonder whether Stonehenge or even Big Ben were to be removed by the American Ambassador to “protect and preserve it” from the imminent bombing during WWII, would the author share the same democratic and altruistic values, so aptly splashed around his page.
    I wonder whether the author truly believes in his words, or rather this is an effort of petty need to fill a page with a series of clumsy and uninformed story telling.
    I am not going to comment on the author’s description of the marbles as “decorative stones” (speaks volumes for itself) but what is rather amusing is the author’s utter ignorance: the local authorities were NOT the Greek government; local authorities were the ottoman (Turkish if you’re searching for a dictionary) local representatives. Now wasn’t that nice the good Lord Elgin did ask for the local government’s permission to remove something that the Ottoman regime couldn’t care less for?
    So I salute you dear sir (or madam) for adding your little pebble of ignorance and misinformation to the greater good of our people, since doing so “hardly seems out of line with the spirit of shared European culture” .

    • Terry Field

      The Greeks have lost their marbles.
      We know.

  • Terry Field

    Turkey has been totally shafted by George Bush and Tony Teeth’s ‘one man one vote codswallop in Iraq – the Sunni are on their knees, Persia is rampant, and the success of Turkey in defeating Persia a few hundred years ago and recovering he holy places is set at nought.
    They have helped create ISIS to slam Assad, to recover Sunni power in Iraq, and to clobber the Kurds.The US policy is a catastrophic failure; a disaster; worse than Vietnam in its utter incompetence. Tragic, since the US is Britain’s only eternal hope against a barbaric, violent and dangerous world. The US and NATO guarantees Britain against military invasion by the European Union.
    God bless America.But it must WAKE UP!!!!!
    Turkey is turning way; who can blame it?????

    • Simon_in_London

      “the US is Britain’s only eternal hope against a barbaric, violent and dangerous world. The US and NATO guarantees Britain against military invasion by the European Union. ”

      Good to know we have loyal NATO allies like Germany to defend us against tyrannical EU regimes such as Germany.

      • Terry Field

        That little sentence was intended as a mischievous little joke!
        Not serious SImon of London, not serious.
        Any ebola in your street? I dispatched a sufferer outside my gate this morning! Doing my bit to suppress the outbreak; have a nice day

  • Noa

    The Elgin marbles should be returned to their rightful home in the Acropolis, with the grateful thanks of the British nation for their ‘loan’ from the thieving and barbaric Ottoman empire.

  • sasboy

    During the past three years, Turkey has absorbed between a million and a million and a half Syrian refugees without any semblance of a large scale racist backlash. If even one tenth of that number were to land in the UK or any other Western nation, there is no question right wing publications like the Spectator would be the first to scream blue murder over the influx of unwanted refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers.

    On one point, the article is correct. Turkey clearly does not share European values. A country which tolerates the presence of between a million and a million and a hald refugees and gives them humanitarian benefits with limited racist backlash clearly had very little in common with a continent increasing dominated by racism, intolerance and right wing hysteria.

    And if Europe’s minorities were to engage in large scale terrorism the way the PKK has carried out against the Turkish state, there is no question they would be treated a lot worse than they are ( think Muslim immigrants, most of whom unrelated to terrorists treated like fifth columnists ) – unlike Turkey where a fifth of all parliamentarians and three former Presidents were ethnic Kurds.

    • global city

      truly crap and idiotic post. If that many French and Dutch people turned up due to similar things taking place there we would be more than happy to look after them.

      PKK are more like the IRA than some sort of Black Panthers or jihadi ensemble of ungrateful immigrant children. They’ve lived in those lands longer than the Turks, who were invaders, remember?

      • sasboy

        Are you sure ? From what I hear the treatment of asylum seekers in the EU is pretty dismal, even those from elsewhere in Europe. And the English and the French and the Dutch have a history of not getting along with each other, remember the Boer wars in South Africa ?

        • Simon_in_London

          “the treatment of asylum seekers in the EU is pretty dismal” Strange how they keep coming, then. Of course 99.9% of them are economic migrants, not fleeing persecution – although I’m sure many of their home nations are indeed horrible, just as their new nations are likely to become horrible. “Wherever you go, there you are” – you can’t escape yourself.

  • Margot

    That photo says it all. Him in Western-style business suit and her in medieval garb. He’s turned the clock back there a thousand years.

    • Jim

      I’m wondering why they appear to have swapped wives for the photo.

  • John Carins

    A lot of art and cultural items that originated in certain countries are now owned and displayed in different countries. These items can be seen as ambassadors for that country or civilisation. The marbles are no exception. There is a legal case for them to remain in London and many visitors get to see a slice of Greek civilisation without having to go to Athens. I would suggest to our Greek friends that the Elgin marbles are something that promotes knowledge and your culture in a foreign land. This is to your benefit. If all art treasures were to be claimed by the originators then chaos would follow. Also, if Greece hasn’t done so already then make a facsimile which can be displayed in the Athens museum. I suspect that a lot of what people see in museums are exactly that – copies. The real item being protected elsewhere.

    • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

      How about a REAL exchange then? I have been to all Greek, most Turkish and Egyptian museums and never seen anything from the British history exposed there. It is easier to adopt this “multi-culture” generous attitude of yours if you have nothing to lose. Don’t you think?

      • John Carins

        I’m sure what you say is true for ancient historical artifacts which would make a REAL exchange difficult. Nevertheless, There are many examples of British engineering and art works which are held in foreign countries. I’m sure that there may even be British artists exhibited in Greek galleries/museums So your premise that we have nothing to lose is a bit patronising. If there is to be a solution to this then both sides would have to compromise. .

        • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

          An example? I have not seen anything similar to what you mention. Sorry.

  • AJAX

    She must have a hell of a toothache to need a bandage like that =/

  • colchar

    I have another proposal for Greece – when you return everything in your museums that came from other countries, Britain will return the marbles.

    • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis

      Can you give a hint on something you have noticed in Greek museums that belonged to another country? Because this is quite a novel claim. I do not know of any case in which a country claimed something from a Greek museum as their own. If you cannot travel, you can buy books to read or check on the Internet.

  • Roger Hudson

    Turkey has been a problem for centuries, in the 20th Century alone it has committed Genocide (from 1915-1923), it has broken treaties (Sevre and Lausanne) and has made war on Greeks and Kurds.
    It was pulled into NATO, at a time when it’s human rights were horrible, just so the USA could station missiles and spy bases up on the USSR border.
    It has no place in the EU, if it hadn’t broken the treaty that ended WW1 it wouldn’t even be north-west of the Bosphorous.
    It is helping funnel ISIS fighters into Syria/Iraq, it is on the wrong side in our fight against militant islam. We should dump them, or dump on them ( in the Shakespearean sense). Smyrna is never forgotten or forgiven.

  • global city

    A direct consequence of the EU playing them round for decades. They are now firming up their Islamic credentials in order to be leader of the Middle East.

    Ataturk must be spinning in his grave. Rejection of their membership was based on the unasailability (?) of ‘Free Movement’…hows abouts that then Dave?

  • rodger the dodger

    This assessment of Turkey is a complete joke. What rubbish…

  • andylowings

    If a third of Turkey is Kurdish why not simply create it formally?
    Does not this seem sensible and diplomatic? Why prevent it so hard?

  • jjjj

    Anyone who cares to listen to Erdogan’s speeches will be terrified at the rhetoric and the rabble rousing.

  • edlancey

    “Turkey has long been a bridge between the West and the Middle East.”

    The first sentence is a lie, an ill-informed lie.

    The Turks have been trying to build a bridge to conquer us, ever since they butchered Constantinople and later got their heads handed to them at Vienna.

    Ataturk was the aberration, not Erdogan.

  • beenzrgud

    UK governments have supported EU expansion in the misguided belief that it will keep the Brussels powerbase on the back foot. As a ploy it clearly isn’t working, and I really don’t want to open our borders to almost 80 million Turks. So Cameron if you’re listening, you better come up with another plan !

  • anotherjoeblogs

    It’s nice to see the Obamas and Erdogans doing some swinging in the name of building bridges between West and East.

  • Margot

    Would have thought just her dress would have put paid to any hopes of France ever condoning their admission to the EU.

  • Simon_in_London

    If Greece would give us something nice, I wouldn’t mind a trade. Perhaps a small Aegean island?

  • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis
  • Prof. Nikos Georgantzis
  • Tjololo

    “a set of decorative stones rescued in the early 19th century — with permission from authorities in Athens”

    The author of this article was probably absent during history lessons in high school.
    By the time Lord Elgin took the Parthenon marbles it was the Turks that had Greece under occupation.
    So literally speaking…there was no legitimate authority in Athens, only occupation forces.
    With arguments like this (claiming that Turks had the right to give away Greek marbles)…..you make the mighty Greast Britain look ethically….very tiny.