Monday, March 13, 2023

UK Prime Minister Rules Out Return Of Parthenon Marble Sculptures To Greece

Parthenon marble sculptures

The United Kingdom has no intention to return Greece the Parthenon marble sculptures controversially removed from the Athens temple in the early 19th century by British diplomat Lord Elgin, as they belong to the British Museum by law, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday.

Greece has been seeking the return of what it considers illegally exported 2,500-year-old relics for decades. London claims that the sculptures were legally acquired by Elgin from the Ottoman officials who exercised authority in Greece at the time, and are now legally owned by the British Museum.

"The UK has cared for the Elgin marbles for generations," Sunak told reporters on his way back from the US, as quoted by The Guardian newspaper, adding that "our galleries and museums are funded by taxpayers because they are a huge asset to this country."

The prime minister emphasized that the collection of Ancient Greek sculptures, belonging to the British Museum, is protected by the law, and the British authorities "have no plans to change it."

"We share their treasures with the world, and the world comes to the UK to see them," he added.

Greek media reported in December 2022 that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was in secret talks with British Museum chair George Osborne. Meanwhile, the British Museum could consider returning the sculptures only on loan, according to The Guardian.

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