Greek PM Visit to Rishi Sunak cancelled Over Elgin Marbles Row

Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Greek PM Visit to Rishi Sunak cancelled Over Elgin Marbles Row

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cancelled his meeting with visiting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek leader announced on Monday, with the BBC saying the abrupt cancellation was over the countries’ Elgin Marbles dispute.

Sunak was reportedly taken aback by Mitsotakis, in an interview with the BBC which aired Sunday, again calling for the return of the Elgin Marbles, saying that having some of the artifacts in London and some in Athens is like cutting the Mona Lisa in half.

“Do you think your viewers would appreciate the beauty of the painting in such a way? Well, this is exactly what happened with the Parthenon sculptures,” he said in the interview.

Also known as the Parthenon Sculptures, the Ancient Greek treasures in the British Museum were brought to the UK by British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century.

About half of them remain in Greece, where they are now housed in the Parthenon Museum.

But the British government remains adamant about keeping the priceless treasures, with a senior source in the ruling Conservative Party telling the BBC: "Our position is clear – the Elgin Marbles are part of the permanent collection of the British museum and belong here. It is reckless for any British politician to suggest that this is subject to negotiation."

For his part, Mitsotakis – in the middle of a three-day working visit to London – said in a statement: “I express my dismay that the British Prime Minister canceled our scheduled meeting just hours before it was due to take place.”

Mitsotakis said he was hoping to discuss the Elgin issue along with other global challenges including the situation in Gaza, the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis, and irregular migration.

“Anyone who believes in the righteousness of their positions is never afraid of opposing arguments,” he added.

The Parthenon Marbles, originally part of a frieze that decorated the ancient Parthenon temple at the Acropolis in Athens, were removed on the orders of Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, in the early 19th century.

These exquisite ancient Greek sculptures depicting gods, heroes, and mythical creatures have been housed in the British Museum for centuries, drawing millions of visitors annually.

Greece’s efforts for their return began in 1982 when then-Culture Minister Melina Mercouri made an appeal at the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies in Mexico.

Main Image :Horse's head from the east pediment of the Parthenon. From Athens, Greece, 438–432 BC. c British Museum

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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