During his official visit to the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister of Greece urged Boris Johnson to return the priceless ancient sculptures to Greece, saying that the move would strengthen Britain’s global position after Brexit.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview with the British “Financial Times” on Tuesday: “This is a topic I really care about, not just a footnote from my visit to the UK.” He was referring to the early filming from the Parthenon in Athens. “Elgin Marble”. The 19th century. “There is a very strong point of unification, which I think is especially important.”
“If I take the position of the Prime Minister and think outside the box in terms of global Britannia, and the idea that the UK really plays a role in the post-Brexit world, [it] If they look at the matter from a different perspective, it will be a great coup for public diplomacy,” he said.
The return of Elgin marble has been a controversial topic for more than 200 years, during which time Greece has repeatedly called for its return.
When Greece was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the British diplomat and art collector Lord Thomas Elgin (Lord Thomas Elgin) decorated the Parthenon in the 5th century BC with 17 statues and almost Half of the fascias were removed, and they were sold to the British Museum.
On Tuesday, the Greek leader met with Johnson to discuss some foreign policy issues, including the repatriation of historical artifacts.
Johnson had previously rejected calls to return the marbles to Greece, insisting that they were “lawfully obtained.”Talk to the Greek daily Tania Earlier this year, he said: “The British government has a firm and long-term position on these sculptures that they were legally acquired by Lord Elgin in accordance with the appropriate laws at the time and have since been legally owned by the trustee of the British Museum. get.”
According to Mizotakis, in 1986, Melina Mercouri, the Greek Minister of Culture and an enthusiastic activist returning to marble, was invited by Johnson to the Oxford Union to discuss this issue. At that time, he was passionate about returning marble. supporter.
For many years, the main argument against the return of sculptures was the lack of suitable display locations in Greece, but in 2009 Greece opened an art museum at the foot of the Acropolis.
“If you visit the new Acropolis Museum, you will understand what I mean. This is where you need to see the sculptures,” Mizotakis said, referring to the plaster model of the sculpture in London, next to it. It is the original work left by Elgin. He emphasized that Elgin Marble is an important monument, not just any artifact.
The Greek leader stated that he understood the British Museum’s position that the return of the statue could lead to “everyone asking for everything in the museum”, but insisted that Elgin marble was an “exception”.
In return, Mizotakis expressed that he is very willing to provide the British Museum with antiquities and treasures that have never left Greece before as part of the future rotating exhibition.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, Downing Street stated that the possession of these marbles was “purely” a matter of the museum, not the British government.
Downing Street said: “Any decisions related to the collection are made by the trustees of the museum, and any questions about the location of the Parthenon sculptures are made by them.”
But Mizotakis insisted that he will continue to contact the government and museums on this issue.