Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsortakis said last Friday that the Parthenon sculptures currently on display at the British Museum should be returned to Athens.
The Greek politician invited Great Britain to talk about it. “The UK should enter into a dialogue with Greece in good faith,” Mitsotakis said, speaking in Paris at an event dedicated to the 75th anniversary of UNESCO, the UN’s heritage protection agency. He noted that the organization had taken an “important step” when it deemed the return of the Parthenon’s antiquities a dispute between governments in September.
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“This is why the obligation to return the Parthenon sculptures now falls within the purview of the UK government,” Mitsotakis said in Paris on Friday, adding that it was “essential to combine the London Parthenon Marbles with the rest of the Athena sculptures.”
We want to cooperate with the British government and the British Museum and work on a solution so that the Parthenon can be seen in its entirety in Athens. In this way, the Greek Prime Minister said during the ceremony in Paris, it will be possible to better appreciate its value.
In March, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was the rightful owner of the Greek temple statues. The head of the UK government had already vehemently rejected Greece’s demands to return works of art created 2,500 years ago.
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And the Greek Prime Minister’s office announced, on Tuesday, that he had met Boris Johnson in London. During the interview, the law firm Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated Greece’s request to return the Parthenon sculptures, noting that “the time has come to grant a legitimate request from the Greeks.”
According to the Greek politician, they should be used to restore the entire monument located in the Acropolis Museum.
Reuters reported that Boris Johnson said during a meeting with his Greek counterpart in Downing Street that the issue of returning the Parthenon artifacts concerns only the British Museum and not its office.
Greece has called on Britain to hand over its monuments in Athens since it regained its independence in 1832, Reuters reports. The sculptures were taken from the Parthenon in the early 19th century by British diplomat Thomas Bruce, 7th Lord Elgin, and 11th Earl of Kincardine at a time when the country was under Ottoman rule. In 1810, Lord Elgin sold them to the British Crown.
The British Museum in London has repeatedly refused to return the marble sculptures known as the Elgin Marbles. Greece is asking for a donation of about half of the 160-meter-long frieze that adorned the temple from the 5th century BC. However, the British Museum maintains that Britain acquired the marble under a legal agreement with the Ottoman Empire.
Last Friday, Paris paid tribute to UNESCO on the 75th anniversary of its founding. Since 1946, the headquarters of UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – is the capital of France. There was, among other things, a light show on the Eiffel Tower, which was part of larger celebrations. More than 20 heads of state participated in it.
Last week, former French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay was elected CEO for the second time for a four-year term.
The Parthenon is a temple located on the Athenian Acropolis, dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin), erected under the direction of the ancient architect and sculptor Phidias. Since 1987, the Acropolis of Athens, along with the Parthenon, has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
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