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Parthenon Sculptures dispute will not hurt Greece-UK relations - Mitsotakis

Tan KW
Publish date: Wed, 29 Nov 2023, 07:18 PM
Tan KW
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ATHENS - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday that the cancellation of a meeting with his British counterpart over the Parthenon Sculptures was "unfortunate" but would not hurt relations between Greece and Britain in the long term.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called off a meeting with Mitsotakis in London on Tuesday, prompting an angry response from the Greek premier.

A British government spokesman later said that Mitsotakis, who appeared on the BBC over the weekend, did not adhere to assurances that he would not raise publicly the issue of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures from the British Museum to Athens.

Greek government officials said Mitsotakis only reiterated his country's longstanding stance during the interview. The cancellation was disrespectful and had prevented the two leaders from discussing important global issues, he said.

"I believe the move (cancellation) will not hurt relations between Greece and Britain in the longer term," Mitsotakis told Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

Greece has repeatedly called on the British Museum to permanently return the 2,500-year-old sculptures that British diplomat Lord Elgin removed from the Parthenon temple in 1806, during a period when Greece was under Ottoman Turkish rule.

About half of the 160-metre frieze that adorned the Parthenon in Athens is in the British Museum, while 50 metres of the carvings are in the Acropolis museum in Greece.

During the BBC interview on Sunday, Mitsotakis compared the separation of the sculptures - known as the Elgin Marbles in Britain - to cutting the Mona Lisa in half, a comparison rejected by the British government.

With Athens and London arguing over the cancellation of the meeting, the Parthenon Sculptures case drew inceased media attention, and may have backfired for Britain.

"The cancellation of this meeting also had a positive side. Greece's just demand for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures received even more publicity, not only in the UK but also internationally," Mitsotakis said.


  - Reuters


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