Dispute over Parthenon Marbles continues

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis dismissed reports of an imminent return of the Parthenon Marbles, during a talk with the country’s President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Wednesday. The 2,500-year-old sculptures are known in Britain as the Elgin Marbles.

Britain and Greece recently began fresh talks over a possible deal to end the long-running dispute, with Greece seeking the permanent repatriation of the Parthenon marbles from the British Museum, removed from the Parthenon temple in the early 19th century by British diplomat Lord Elgin when he was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

Sculptures will possibly return if we win second term

In a meeting with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the country’s PM, whose term ends in July, said he hopes to seal the return of the sculptures if he wins a second term. “There has now been a significant change in the United Kingdom both at the level of public opinion but also at the level of people who have knowledge of the matter,” Mitsotakis said.

He further stated that he does not “expect immediate results, but I believe that we have already moved very systematically,” Mitsotakis said.

“If the Greek people trust us again, I believe we could achieve this target after the elections,” the PM added.

Theft or legal acquisition?

Greece has accused Lord Elgin of theft and does not recognise the British Museum as rightful owner of the sculptures.

The Parthenon, which is on the Acropolis in Athens, was completed in the fifth century BC as a temple to the goddess Athena and its decorative friezes contain some of the greatest examples of ancient Greek sculptures.

The British Museum has always ruled out returning the parts in its collection, which include about half of the 160 metre frieze that adorned the Parthenon, and maintains that they were acquired legally.

However, there have been recent news reports in both countries of an agreement between Athens and the British Museum, now closer to permitting the return of the sculptures as part of an exchange deal.