Monday, September 26, 2022

Greek leader in London seeks return of ancient sculptures

LONDON (AP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in London on Tuesday amid renewed efforts by Athens to return the marble statues that once stood in the Parthenon.

The Greek government said Mitsotakis plans to raise the issue of the sculptures that were removed from the ancient temple in Athens over 200 years ago and are now in the British Museum.

The marbles – 17 figures and part of the frieze that adorned the 2,500-year-old monument to the Acropolis – were delivered by Lord Elgin, British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, in the early 19th century.

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Britain claims that Elgin acquired the sculptures legally when the Ottomans ruled Greece. The Greek government says they were stolen and is demanding that they be returned for display at the new Acropolis Museum, which opened in 2009.

Mitsotakis told the British Daily Telegraph last week that “the marble was stolen in the 19th century, it belongs to the Acropolis Museum, and we need to seriously discuss this issue.”

The British government said on Tuesday that it has no say in the matter.

“Marble ownership is solely a museum affair,” said Johnson spokesman Max Blaine. “This is not for the UK government.”

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