In a surprise move Greece has ruled out taking international court action to get the stunning Elgin — or Parthenon — Marbles out of the British Museum and back to Greek soil.
Officials announced they would instead rely on "diplomatic and political" channels to talk UK authorities into returning the marble friezes and pediment statues that once decorated the Parthenon Temple in Athens, built in 447-432 BC, the BBC reports. The decision was made despite the advice of human rights barrister Amal Alamuddin Clooney, who had urged the nation to take Britain to the International Court of Justice.
About 30% of the Parthenon Marbles are now in the UK.
The British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire removed about half of the sculptures from the ruins of the temple and from the building itself beginning in 1801. The British Museum acquired them from from Elgin by the British Museum in 1816 after a Parliamentary Select Committee determined his actions were legal.
Clooney submitted a report to the Greek government this week urging it to formally request the marbles and take Britain to the International Court of Justice if it refused.
Greek Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis said he believes a diplomatic strategy will work as more British citizens and officials have become sympathetic to the nation's quest.
"One cannot go to court over whatever issue," he said on Greece TV. "Besides, in international courts the outcome is uncertain."
Late last year the museum loaned one of the marbles for the first time to Russia for a display at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, which the Greece's prime minister called an "an affront" to the Greek people.
Clooney first became involved in the fight for the marbles in 2011. Her husband, actor George Clooney, is also an outspoken advocate for returning the marbles to Greece. While promoting his film The Monuments Men last year, the actor told the Greeks they were right and that it would "be the right thing to do" for the British Museum to give up the sculptures.