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Greece Offers to Make a Trade With Britain for the Parthenon Marbles

Parthenon Marbles
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has suggested a trade to entice Britain to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. Credit: Marcio Cabral de Moura, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis escalated his call for the return of the Parthenon Marbles on Saturday.

The PM told The Daily Telegraph that he would be willing to loan the British Museum some of Greece’s cultural artifacts in an effort to make a deal to return the Marbles more agreeable to them. Mitsotakis made it clear that the issue of getting the artifacts back to their home in Greece is not just an empty talking point for him:

“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,” the PM said.

“I am sure that if there was a willingness on the part of the 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.”

Mitsotakis also indicated that he is not afraid to bring the issue up directly with Boris Johnson next week during their scheduled meeting:

“Refusing to discuss the topic seems to me, given the context of everything that has been happening in terms of the return of cultural treasures, to be rather an anachronistic approach.”

The PM believes that the act of returning the marbles would be a significant moment for British culture as well, signaling a new era in line with Johnson’s touted beliefs:

“It would be a fantastic statement by what Boris calls “Global Britain” if they were to move on this and look at it through a completely different lens.”

Mitsotakis stands by his call for the return of Parthenon Marbles

Mitsotakis’s statements to the Telegraph come just days after the Greek PM spoke at the 75th anniversary dinner for UNESCO, where he said that the return of the Parthenon Marbles needed to be addressed.

UNESCO has recently recognized the need for countries to engage with each other over the rightful ownership of cultural artifacts. Mitsotakis urged the UK to have an open and non-contentious discussion with Greece about the return of the Parthenon Marbles, which are also known as “the Elgin Marbles” for their theft from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin:

“This year marks the bicentennial of the start of Greece’s War of Independence. No time could be better for the return of the section that is missing and the reuniting of the Parthenon Marbles in Greece, their country of origin.”

The PM said that the sculptures are “emblematic monuments, inextricably linked with the identity of a nation” adding that “the Parthenon Marbles in London must be reunited with the greater part of the Parthenon Marbles, in Athens.”


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