The Chairman of the British Museum George Osborne said on Friday that it is open to discussing the temporary return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. But the PM of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his office have remained tightlipped about the prospects of any meetings and discussions between the two during Mitsotakis’ upcoming trip to London from November 24-28, according to reports at tovima.
During a speech last week at the Duvin Gallery of the British Museum, where the Parthenon Marbles are housed, Osborne said that they would consider the temporary return of the sculptures in exchange for the exhibition of other Greek antiquities in London.
The heart of the issue remains unresolved, however, which involves the two sides coming to an agreement over who owns the Parthenon Marbles.
Osborne also acknowledged the controversy surrounding the Parthenon Marbles and stated that it is time for the British side to address it.
The report at tovima notes that public opinion in the UK has shifted on the matter, with citizens now in favor of returning the Parthenon Marbles. This is largely due to the successful campaign of Greece to sway public opinion in the country, arguing that the rightful home of the marbles is the modern Acropolis Museum, which opened in Athens, Greece in 2009 and is located at the base of the Acropolis.
It also appears that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under pressure at the polls and that the party is considering the traction it could with the public by arriving at a deal with Greece over the temporary return of the marbles, particularly ahead of UK elections, which may be called in the spring of 2024.
The current openness of the British museum to exploring ways to return the marbles stands in stark contrast to that of 2021, at which time the former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that Britian is the legitimate owner of the marbles and the British Museum refused to return the sculptures, claiming that they are “shared heritage.”
The Parthenon Marbles, known in the UK as the Elgin Marbles, were removed from the Parthenon temple in Athens in the early 19th century, when Greece was under Ottoman rule, by Lord Elgin. Greece has repeatedly called for their return since the formation of the modern Greek state in 1832.