Cyprus Mail
Britain Cyprus Europe Greece World

Johnson rebuffs demand for talks on Parthenon marbles, Cyprus on the agenda

britain's pm johnson meets with greece's pm mitsotakis in london
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at Downing Street, in London. Daniel Leal/Pool via REUTERS

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday that the issue of the Parthenon sculptures, which Greece wants returned from London to Athens, was one for the British Museum and not for his government.

Greece has been asking since 1832 for the return of the sculptures, which were removed from the Parthenon temple in Athens in the early 19th century by British diplomat Lord Elgin at a time when Greece was under Ottoman rule.

Johnson’s office said Mitsotakis raised the issue of the sculptures when the two leaders met in Downing Street.

“The Prime Minister (Johnson) said that he understood the strength of feeling of the Greek people on this issue, but reiterated the UK’s longstanding position that this matter is one for the trustees of the British Museum,” a statement said.

This contradicted Mitsotakis, who said last week the issue was a matter for negotiation between the two governments.

Known in Britain as the Elgin Marbles, the sculptures make up about half of a 160-metre frieze that adorned the Parthenon, a 5th century BC architectural masterpiece. Most of the other surviving sculptures are in Athens.

The British Museum says there are no current discussions with the Greek government on the issue. It says Elgin acted legally when he removed the sculptures from Athens, and they are “a vital element in this interconnected world collection”.

Johnson had told a Greek newspaper in March that the sculptures “were legally acquired by Lord Elgin under the appropriate laws of the time and have been legally owned by the British Museum’s trustees since their acquisition”.

The Cyprus News Agency reported that the Cyprus issue was among the main topics on the agenda during the meeting. Mitsotakis is understood to have underlined the intransigence demonstrated by Turkey, as well as a series of provocative actions, including in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus and in Varosha. He noted that the reversal of the decision to illegally open part of the fenced-off town is a prerequisite for the success of the UN-led efforts to resume negotiations towards a settlement. The Greek Prime Minister stressed the position that the “two-state solution” approach championed by Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot leader is unacceptable and could not constitute a basis for further negotiations. Downing Street said that on Cyprus, both leaders “agreed on the importance of all parties working together to reach a lasting settlement.”

Related Posts

CypERC: Recovery and Resilience Plan will facilitate the path towards improved productivity

Source: Cyprus News Agency

Six bird trappers arrested in the past two weeks

Antigoni Pitta

Extending period for paternity leave being looked at

Antigoni Pitta

Coronavirus: Free rapid testing sites for eligible groups on Wednesday

Antigoni Pitta

Tonga’s volcanic eruption may harm environment for years, scientists say

Reuters News Service

Sensitive marine area around Galapagos Islands expanded

Reuters News Service