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Austria says talks under way on returning Parthenon marbles to Greece

Vienna museum is in talks aimed at lending two marble pieces of the Parthenon to Greece, Austria’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, a development his Greek counterpart said he hoped would help in talks with Britain over its much larger hoard.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna has a tiny collection of marbles – just two fragments from the Parthenon’s northern frieze. But Greece hopes that with each agreement to return pieces to Athens there will be growing “positive momentum” in talks on returning pieces being kept elsewhere.

“I am very pleased that technical discussions are taking place between the Kunsthistorische Museum and the Acropolis Museum on mutual loans of the Parthenon frieze,” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias. “I am very hopeful that the talks can move on very quickly and the marbles will be on display in Athens.”

Dendias said the talks were important in the context of discussions about bigger collections, particularly that of the British Museum in London.

Since independence in 1832, Greece has repeatedly called for the return of the sculptures that British diplomat Lord Elgin removed from the Parthenon temple in Athens in the early 19th century, when Greece was under Ottoman rule.

“The regional government of Sicily in 2022 and Pope Francis in 2023 returned to Greece part of the Parthenon sculptures so this will be the third one and this for us is of huge, huge importance,” Dendias said. “And also beyond the very fact of this, we believe that will create a momentum which we could use in our discussions with London.” [Reuters]

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