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Parthenon Sculptures belong in UK, says Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan

The Parthenon Sculptures “belong here in the UK” and should not be returned to Greece, the Culture secretary Michelle Donelan has insisted late on Wednesday.

The ancient artworks, better known in the UK as the Elgin Marbles, are currently in the British Museum.

Reports have suggested the museum’s chairman, George Osborne, is close to agreeing a deal with Greece.

Michelle Donelan told BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show that permanently returning them was “not his intention”.

In a wide-ranging interview, she said sending the sculptures to Greece would “open a can of worms” and be a “dangerous road to go down”.

It would “open the gateway to the question of the entire contents of our museums”, she said.

The classical marble sculptures are part of a frieze that decorated the Parthenon temple in Athens. They were removed in the 19th Century by British diplomat and soldier Lord Elgin. The British government bought them in 1816 and placed them in the British Museum.

Last month, Greek newspaper Ta Nea reported that talks between Mr Osborne and the Greek government were at “an advanced stage”.

The British Museum is prevented by law from permanently returning the artworks to Greece. But there was speculation that a deal could involve the sculptures heading to Athens on loan in rotation, in return for classical objects that have never been seen outside Greece before.

Greece has been pushing for years to get the artworks back.

Ms Donelan’s assertion that she will not change the law, which is “in the right place”, will be met with anger in Athens and beyond.

She said she’d had “several conversations” with Mr Osborne, the former chancellor. “I think his view on this has been misinterpreted and certainly portrayed wrongly,” she said.

“He’s not about to send them back, basically. That’s not his intention. He has no desire to do that. There’s also been this concept of a 100-year loan mooted as well, which is certainly not what he’s planning either.

“He would agree with me that we shouldn’t be sending them back, and actually they do belong here in the UK, where we’ve cared for them for a great deal of time, where we’ve allowed access to them.” {full story BBC)

So far, there has been no official respond of Greece to Donalan’s statements.

PS But such statements push a solution further away.

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  1. They belong in Athens.

    Aged 39, Michelle Donelan is still a youngster

    “PS But such statements push a solution further away.”

    They don’t want a solution.

  2. The Parthenon Marbles belong in Athens! That Lord Elgin brought them to the UK does not mean that the UK owns them, on the contrary it was a theft! Bring them back were they belong, in Athens, and do it now!!