The UK Prime Minister Liz Truss rejected suggestions that an agreement can be made with Greece over sharing the Parthenon Marbles during a TV interview on Tuesday.
When asked about a possible deal, Truss told the TV and radio channel GB News: “I don’t support that.”
The relevant section is at 4’25” in the following video:
Her statement is bound to disappoint Greece which has intensified its campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, a struggle that started in the 1980s by then Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri.
Greece is looking for a deal with Liz Truss over the Parthenon Marbles
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview published this week with The Sunday Times that Greece will seek to strike an agreement with Liz Truss over the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens.
“At a time when Truss will be looking to build her credibility and when the UK is sort of cornered in terms of its overall image after the [Queen’s] funeral it will be a fantastic gesture, and that’s what I’ll tell her,” said Mitsotakis.
The Prime Minister shared his belief that King Charles, with whom he purportedly has a good personal relationship, will have to remain neutral on the issue due to his position. However, King Charles is supportive of the initiative to re-unite the Parthenon Marbles.
Mitsotakis stated that this belief is based on discussions held between the two men when Charles was Prince of Wales and noted that sentiment in the United Kingdom is shifting.
Truss’ position on the issue puts her also at odds with George Osborne, the chairman of the British Museum, who said earlier this year there is a “deal to be done” with Greece over the reunification of the ancient sculptures.
In an interview on the LBC radio station in June, Osborne said that a “deal is to be done where we can tell both stories in Athens and in London if we both approach this without a load of preconditions, without a load of red lines…Sensible people could arrange something that makes the most of the Parthenon marbles but if either side says there’s no give at all, then there won’t be a deal.”
In December 2021, Osborne spoke of the possibility of the sculptures returning to Greece for a limited time in an interview published by The Times.
“There are those who demand the return of objects they believe we have no right to hold. That is not new either,” he said. “Lord Byron thought the Elgin Marbles should be back at the Parthenon.”
However, Osborne said, the museum is not dismissive to such demands: “We are open to lending our artifacts to anywhere who can take good care of them and ensure their safe return—which we do every year, including to Greece.”