The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson ruled out the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece in a statement to a Greek newspaper.
Speaking to Ta Nea, he said: “The British government has a firm and long-standing position on the sculptures: they were legally acquired by Lord Elgin, in accordance with the laws in force at the time.”
He added that he understands the strong feelings of the Greek people and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on this issue.
However, he opines that “The rightful owners are the commissioners of the British Museum since they came into their possession.”
Johnson’s statement seemingly puts an end to speculation that Britain could consider the return or lending of the Marbles at a time when Greece is celebrating 200 years of the War of Independence.
Greek proposal for the Parthenon Marbles
In 2019, Mitsotakis called on his British counterpart to engage in a massive cultural swap:
To allow treasures that have never been shown abroad before to be exhibited in London in exchange for the Parthenon Marbles being returned to Athens for the 2021 celebrations.
Speaking to British newspaper The Observer, Mitsotakis said he was willing to allow treasures that have never been shown abroad before to be exhibited in London in exchange for the Parthenon Marbles being returned to Athens for 2021.
“Our wish and ambition is to create the necessary conditions for Greek cultural heritage to travel the world and in so doing convey the great and essential contribution of our country to western civilization,” he said.
“In this context, given the significance of 2021, I will propose to Boris: ‘As a first move, loan me the sculptures for a certain period of time and I will send you very important artefacts that have never left Greece to be exhibited in the British Museum’.”
Clooney supports their return
Earlier in March, George Clooney called again for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece in a communication with Janet Suzman, chairwoman of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.
The Hollywood actor told Suzman:
“There are indeed many objects of historical value that must be returned to their original owners. However, none of them is as important as the Marbles of the Parthenon.”
Clooney called on Britain to allow their permanent reunion in their birthplace. “The Parthenon Sculptures must be returned to their original owner,” he was reported as saying.