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British Museum Says Talks With Greece on Parthenon Marbles Continue

British Museum Parthenon Marbles
British Museum Chair George Osborne said talks can continue “whether or not  Sunak meets the Greek prime minister or not”. Credit: Alexander Gale / Greek Reporter

The British Museum insisted the diplomatic feud that erupted between Sunak and Mitsotakis in recent days wouldn’t stop long-running talks over the future of the Parthenon Marbles.

British Museum Chair George Osborne said talks can continue “whether or not [British Prime Minister] Rishi Sunak meets the Greek prime minister or not,” said in his latest Political Currency podcast.

In the podcast on Thursday, he said the British Museum has been exploring a deal “ whereby they spend part of their time in Athens and part of their time in London – and we have Greek treasures coming our way in return. And that is, I think, something worth exploring.”

Although Osborne has made similar statements before, it is viewed as greatly significant that he repeated them in the wake of the diplomatic tension caused by Sunak with Greece.

British Museum chair chides Sunak on Parthenon Marbles

In fact, Osborne noted, “ To my mind as chair of the British Museum it is all the more reason to press on with our efforts to try and reach an agreement with the Greeks.”

“In fact, if anything, things have been rather clarified by this week. We obviously know we’re not going to get any particular support from the Conservative government,” he added.

George Osborne — who was Conservative chancellor from 2010-2016 — suggested that Sunak’s abrupt cancellation of a meeting with the Greek prime minister — which No.10 Downing Street blamed on Mitsotakis’ fresh public plea for the return of the ancient sculptures — may have had more to do with the Tories’ dire electoral prospects.

Speaking on his podcast, Osborne asked of Sunak: “Is it just petulance? Is it just having a bit of a hissy fit? And, I think if that’s the reason, it’s not because Mitsotakis was going to raise the Elgin Marbles. It’s because he had met [Labour leader] Keir Starmer the day before.”

Mitsotakis: It takes two to tango

Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday said he wants to preserve good relations with London, following a cancellation of his meeting with his British counterpart Rishi Sunak amid a dispute over the so-called Parthenon Marbles.

“I certainly want to leave this unfortunate incident behind me, but it always takes two to tango,” Mitsotakis said.

“In the spirit of longstanding good relations our two countries have, which I surely intend to preserve, I don’t have much to add,” he said.

Earlier in the week the government spokesman in Athens said that Sunak’s decision to cancel a meeting with Mitsotakis is “unprecedented” and “disrespectful.”

“It is not something that is done. We are looking for a precedent and cannot find one,” Pavlos Marinakis told Skai TV, after Mitsotakis was informed on Monday evening that his meeting with Sunak on Tuesday was being called off, adding that the move was “not only disrespectful to the Greek prime minister but also to the Greek people.”

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