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Parthenon Marbles: UK’s PM Sunak cancels meeting with Greek counterpart Mitsotakis

In a surprised and totally undiplomatic move, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cancelled a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis scheduled to take place on Tuesday morning.

Prior to the literally last minute cancellation on Monday evening, there were statements by the Sunak’s spokesperson who ruled out any possibility of  “return or lending” of the Parthenon Marbles, an issue that was high in the agenda of the Greek premier.

In short statement, Mitsotakis expressed his annoyance about the unprecedented move by Downing Street

“I express my annoyance at the fact that the British Prime Minister canceled our scheduled meeting a few hours before it took place. Greece’s positions on the issue of the Parthenon Marbles are known. I was hoping to have the opportunity to discuss it with my British counterpart as well, along with the major challenges of the international moment: Gaza, Ukraine, Climate crisis, migration. Anyone who believes in the correctness and justice of their positions is never afraid of confronting arguments.”

It is recalled that the Greek PM is in London on  a three-day visit where in meetings with both the British PM and the leader of the Labor opposition, Keir Starmer, he would raise the issue of the Parthenon Marbles.

Starmer had declared he would commit himself to their return to Greece once he becomes UK’s Prime Minister.

According Greek  media, Sunak was annoyed about the meeting Mitsotakis-Starmer and he cancelled while this meeting was taking place.

According to Daily Mirror, the British Prime Minister insists that the British Museum is the “right place” for the Parthenon Marbles to remain, with his spokesman saying “we have a permanent position, I think the Prime Minister has pointed out that the Sculptures of Parthenon in the British Museum were legally acquired according to the laws of the time. They legally belong to the administrators of the British Museum,” he said.

Regarding the possibility of a “loan” agreement between Greece and the British Museum, Sunak ‘s spokesman said: “There are no plans to change our approach, we believe the museum is the right place,” he said, adding that “we are looking after the marbles for generations and we want this to continue. People regularly come to the UK to see the marbles and there are no plans to change that or change the law.”

The spokesman’s statements came after the interview of Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the BBC who referred to the need to reunite the sculptures of the Parthenon, while comparing their preservation in the United Kingdom to cutting the “Mona Lisa in half.”  Mitsotakis reiterated that the Parthenon Marbles were stolen.

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9 comments

  1. “I think the Prime Minister has pointed out that the Sculptures of Parthenon in the British Museum were legally acquired according to the laws of the time.”

    The laws of the time were very simple. We had greater military might than any other country. We used that military might to invade other countries at gunpoint, suppress the indigenous population by force and steal their wealth. It’s how Britain became a wealthy country. Since we stopped doing it, it is also why we are steadily becoming poorer. The government has no intention of accelerating that impoverishment by giving away anything valuable.

    Obviously the Parthenon sculptures were not obtained in exactly this way but, given the predominant culture of corruption under Ottoman rule, it is highly likely that Lord Elgin bribed some Ottoman official(s) to be allowed to take them. Under international law today it is illegal for an occupying force to sell the possessions of the country being occupied. The future of all such stolen artifacts should be judged by the laws of today.

    PS I wouldn’t bank on Starmer’s pledge to return them being honoured if Labour win at the next election.

  2. So embarrassing 😳
    I do not like Rishi Sunak but dislike him even more now.Acting like a child having a tantrum,not good.

  3. The marbles were acquired by Scottish errant aristocratic nincompoop.
    Later sold to the British museum, if the modern greek state , a totally different entity to ancient greece, would like to purchase them then It should make the British museum an offer and stop demanding them like a petulant child.
    Do all Vangough paintings belong in Holland ?.

    • Van Gogh paintings were created by a private individual and sold in voluntary private transactions. The Parthenon sculptures were stolen by a British archaeologist who vanadalised a centuries old national monument with the cooperation of an occupying foreign power. You cannot make a valid comparison.

      • I see you don’t mention modern Greece is not ancient Greece , and that the artist who sculptured the marbles was also a private individual.

  4. According to one of Sunak’s sources they think they should stay because the British taxpayer has paid to maintain them. A bit like a car thief saying they should keep the car because they washed it. Embarrassing!!

  5. I apologise for the actions of our unelected and mostly unwanted Hindu PM….and hope that soon he will be gone, and the Marbles returned to their rightful place here in Greece.

  6. In a fairly recent opinion poll in the UK the majority of the British public were in favour of a return of the
    sculptures to Greece. Of course, Sunak, like most politicians, is not interested in public opinion unless it’s
    near an election.
    It is well recorded that Elgin obtained the sculptures via some very dubious dealing withe local Ottoman
    officials.
    These were not random pieces lying on the ground but an integral part of the frieze. Elgin had them sawn
    off, thus defacing a monument that has stood for millenia.Basically, a vandal.
    It should not be a question of financial loss or gain but one of ethics and morality.
    I sincerely hope that a) Sunak is voted out of office and b) Starmer is elected and keeps to his commitment
    to return the marbles.
    Momus: it was Sunak who behaved like a petulant child, not the Greeks.

  7. There is a great podcast (and TV show) called “stuff the British stole”. Well researched.
    here’s the podcast about the Parthenon marbles (I hope it plays)
    https://www.cbc.ca/listen/cbc-podcasts/1030-stuff-the-british-stole/episode/15874517-s2-e2-losing-your-marbles