Greek PM to challenge Boris Johnson to return the Parthenon Marbles
By PA Political Staff
The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is expected to challenge Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece when the pair meet on Tuesday.
The leaders are unlikely to see eye to eye during their discussion in Downing Street over the status of the ancient sculptures removed from the Acropolis more than 200 years ago.
Mr Johnson has insisted they were “legally acquired” and are rightfully owned by the British Museum, whereas the Greek prime minister argues they were “stolen” from Athens.
The 17 figures were taken by the staff of British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Lord Elgin, in the early 19th century and have been the subjects of a long dispute.
Last week, Mr Mitsotakis told The Daily Telegraph: “Our position is very clear. The marbles were stolen in the 19th century, they belong in the Acropolis Museum and we need to discuss this issue in earnest.
“I am sure that if there was a willingness on the part of the (British) Government to move we could find an arrangement with the British Museum in terms of us sending abroad cultural treasures on loan, which have never left the country.”
But Mr Johnson, earlier this year, ruled out returning the marbles to Greece.
He told Greek newspaper Ta Nea: “I understand the strong feelings of the Greek people, and indeed Prime Minister Mitsotakis, on the issue.
“But the UK Government has a firm longstanding position on the sculptures which is that they were legally acquired by Lord Elgin under the appropriate laws of the time and have been legally owned by the British Museum’s trustees since their acquisition.”