Greek premier gives new impetus to efforts to return Parthenon Sculptures to Athens from British Museum

Greek premier gives new impetus to efforts to return Parthenon Sculptures to Athens from British Museum

'We feel that these sculptures belong to Greece and that they were essentially stolen,' Mitsotakis says, vowing to raise issue with UK Premier Sunak, Labour leader Starmer in Monday's meetings

By Ahmet Gencturk

ATHENS (AA) – Greece has given a new impetus to endeavors to bring Parthenon Sculptures back to the country from the British Museum, where they are presently exhibited, as the Greek premier said categorically in an interview with a British broadcaster aired on Sunday.

In the interview with BBC One, Greek Prime Minister Kryakos Mitsotakis said, “This is not a question of returning artifacts whose ownership we question. We feel that these sculptures belong to Greece and that they were essentially stolen.

“But this is not, in my mind, an ownership question. This is a reunification argument.”

The Greek government has been lobbying for a deal that would essentially be a partnership between Greece and the British Museum, allowing them to return the sculptures to Athens and have people appreciate them in their original setting, he added.

When asked if he is confident that such a deal will be reached, Mitsotakis replied, “We have not made as much progress as I would like in the negotiations. But again, I’m a patient man and we’ve waited for hundreds of years and I will persist in these discussions.”

He stressed that he would raise the issue during his meetings with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer in London on Monday.

The Parthenon Marbles, originally part of a frieze that decorated the ancient Parthenon temple at the Acropolis in Athens, were removed on the orders of Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, in the early 19th century.

These exquisite ancient Greek sculptures depicting gods, heroes, and mythical creatures have been housed in the British Museum for centuries, drawing millions of visitors annually.

Greece’s efforts for their return began in 1982 when then-Culture Minister Melina Mercouri made an appeal at the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies in Mexico.

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