British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is due to meet his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday, has “no intention” of facilitating the return of the Parthenon marbles to Athens, as long demanded by Greece, his office said. -speech Monday.
Athens has been demanding the return of the Parthenon friezes for decades, claiming they were “looted” while the country was under Ottoman occupation. But London says the sculptures were “legally acquired” in 1802 by British diplomat Lord Elgin, who sold them to the British Museum.
On Sunday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he would press for their return when he met Rishi Sunak on Tuesday, during a three-day visit to the United Kingdom. But Rishi Sunak's spokesperson told journalists that the Prime Minister has always been "consistent" in his position, believing that the Parthenon marbles are "an important asset" for the United Kingdom, which has "safeguarded" this heritage “for generations”. “They legally belong” to the British Museum. “We strongly support this position, and British Museum regulations prohibit the removal of objects from the museum collection,” he added. “We have no intention of changing the law,” he insisted.
In an interview on Sunday with the BBC, Kyriakos Mitsotakis estimated that keeping part of the Parthenon friezes outside Greece amounted to “cutting Mona Lisa (the Mona Lisa) in two”. Athens is trying to convince London to reach an agreement so that the marbles can return to Greece in the form of a loan, he explained. Last January, the British government denied any prospect of a permanent return, after media reports indicated that the British Museum was close to an agreement with Greece.
The Parthenon is a temple built in the 5th century BC in homage to the goddess Athena. It was partially destroyed during a bombardment in 1687, then looted. Parts of the temple are exhibited in many museums around the world. In London, pieces from the Parthenon have been exhibited since 1817. This year, three fragments which had been in the Vatican for centuries were returned to Greece.