In an effort to broker a compromise, the Greek prime minister requested that the 2,500-year-old Parthenon marbles, which he accuses Britain of stealing, be returned to Greece, and even offered to loan some of his country’s masterpieces to the British Museum.
The sculptures, commonly known as the Elgin marbles, belong at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, according to Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the Daily Telegraph.
Boris Johnson, on the other hand, has already said that they would not be returned since they were obtained legitimately.
“Our position is very clear,” Mitsotakis stated. The marbles were stolen in the nineteenth century; they belong in the Acropolis Museum, and we need to talk about it seriously.
“I am confident that if the government was willing to move, we could work out an arrangement with the British Museum to send cultural treasures abroad on loan that have never left the country.”
Lord Elgin stole the marbles from the Acropolis more than 200 years ago, sparking one of the world’s most famous cultural squabbles, and they have long been a source of contention.
When Mitsotakis and Johnson meet next week for discussions that might influence future ties between the two nations, Mitsotakis said he would bring up the problem.
“Refusing to discuss the topic seems to me to be a rather anachronistic approach, given everything that has been going on in terms of the return of cultural treasures,” he continued.
“If they moved on this and looked at it through a completely different lens, it would be a fantastic statement by what Boris calls Global Britain.”
“I understand the strong feelings of the Greek people – and indeed Prime Minister Mitsotakis – on the issue,” Johnson told the Greek daily Ta Nea earlier this year, dismissing the call for their return to Greece.
“However, the UK government has a firm, long-standing position on the sculptures, namely that they were legally acquired by Lord Elgin under the appropriate laws of the time and have been legally owned by the trustees of the British Museum since their acquisition.”
Greece has long advocated for the reunification of the sculptures, which are now housed in museums around Europe but mostly in London, and claims that doing so is essential to fully comprehending the artworks’ significance in relation to the Acropolis.