Is a deal on the Parthenon Sculptures possible?

The marble head of a young man, a tiny fragment from the Parthenon, is seen in a file photo. Pope Francis has decided to return three fragments of the Parthenon Sculptures from the Vatican Museums, in the form of a 'donation' to the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos. [AP]

Any answer to whether an agreement is possible on the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures is unlikely to be correct. Or is it? Let's get our facts straight first.

One thing we tend to forget when discussing their return by the UK is that Greece has something it did not have in previous years in the negotiation: A potential supporter in a key position. The chairman of the British Museum, George Osborne, has long been talking about an "agreement," "cooperation," a "solution" - you name it - on the issue. If there are three obstacles that need to be overcome in order to reach an agreement, Osborne is the first. The Trustees are the second and the British government is the last. Each influences the other, but none of Osborne's predecessors has been as vocal about the issue. We do not know what Osborne may have in mind when referring to an "agreement," so let's look at what we do...

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