UNESCO’s Good Will Ambassador, Ms. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, in a press conference held on June 24th, 2014, in the Acropolis Museum, announced the launch of the new International Campaign for the Reunification of Parthenon Marbles, titled RETURN (the marbles), RESTORE (Parthenon), RESTART (history).

The Campaign aims to continue and intensify the efforts for returning to Greece those parts of the Parthenon Sculptures which are currently in the British Museum, in order to restore the unity and integrity of the Parthenon Sculptures, the greatest Cultural Heritage Monument in the world.

This initiative expresses the deep conviction of Ms. Vardinoyannis that the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures is a necessity, and is part of the efforts she has been making over many years to fulfil this purpose.

The reunification of Parthenon Sculptures, the great return of the Marbles, is both a national demand of the Greeks as well as a global issue of moral order and cultural heritage.

“For us, the Parthenon Marbles, the late Melina Merkouri once said, are our pride, our sacrifices, they are the noblest symbol of excellence, they are a tribute to the democratic philosophy, they are our aspirations and our name. They are the essence of Greekness!”

The international RETURN (the marbles), RESTORE (Parthenon), RESTART (history) campaign to be carried out by the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” in collaboration with the “Melina Merkouri Foundation”, has as its first aim to push the issue of the Reunification of Parthenon Marbles up the agenda of the competent bodies of UNESCO, the largest international organization for culture, in order to make it a priority.

The first step of the Campaign is the international Meeting “Parthenon, the integrity of a symbolic monument, the role of citizens, an international campaign”, which took place on June 26th, 2014 at the Acropolis Museum, with the participation of Greek and foreign experts and activists, on the issue of Parthenon Sculptures and the claim made for their return.

The second step of the campaign involves the first nationwide survey conducted by IPSOS OPINION for the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” in regard to how important the return of the Parthenon Sculptures is to the Greek people.

The third step of the campaign is to submit the folder with the conclusions of the aforementioned international meeting and the related survey to UNESCO. The folder will be submitted by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna V. Vardinoyannis to UNESCO DirectorGeneral Irina Bokova during a private meeting to be held during the Annual Meeting of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors. The Annual Meeting will take place in Paris on 30 June 2014. At the same time, Ms Vardinoyannis will brief her colleagues at UNESCO on the RETURN (the marbles), RESTORE (Parthenon), RESTART (history) international campaign.

It is noted that this is not the first time Ms Vardinoyannis is supporting the effort to reunite the Parthenon Sculptures by embarking on international initiatives. Among other things, the staging of the exhibit “The unity of a special monument: the Parthenon” in 2003 at UNESCOs headquarters in Paris was very important.

As a Greek and as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Ms Vardinoyannis embraces the vision of the return of Parthenon Sculptures to their natural setting, not only because they are from Greece, but also because they are an integral piece of a monument to civilisation and of a whole that has been taken apart. Parthenon Sculptures are part of a complete work that is considered around the world even today to be the ultimate expression of values such as moderation, harmony, democracy and freedom of speech, and the human capacity for great achievement. The Parthenon stands as a symbol for all of Western Civilisation.