New British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, a former tenant of 10 Downing St., on Tuesday requested a meeting with, and held talks with Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis, a day after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak abruptly cancelled a scheduled meeting with visiting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The Gerapetritis-Cameron meeting was held on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers’ summit in Brussels.
The Greek premier was in London to appear and speak at an investors’ “roadshow” organized by the Athens Stock Exchange (ATHEX) and Morgan Stanley. His meeting with Sunak was scheduled for Tuesday morning.
Rampant speculation surrounded the unprecedented and undiplomatic cancellation, with initial reports claiming annoyance by Sunak and his office over Mitsotakis’ earlier and high-profile interview on the BBC, where he again argued the case for a return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens from the British Museum.
According to Greek diplomatic sources on Tuesday afternoon, the Greek foreign minister first cited the disagreement, in principle, that exists over the issue of the invaluable friezes’ return. Turning to damage mode, however, the same sources said both ministers agreed over the need to protect bilateral relations and jointly deal with challenges.
On Monday evening, Mitsotakis issued a biting statement over cancelled meeting, noting that “…I’d like to express my displeasure over the fact that the British prime minister cancelled our scheduled meeting only hours before it was set to occur…Greece and Britain are united by traditional ties of friendship, and the context of our bilateral ties is extremely broad. Greece’s positions on the issue of the Parthenon Friezes are well known. I had hoped to have the opportunity to discuss them with my British counterpart, along with the major challenges on the international stage at the moment, namely, Gaza, Ukraine, the climate crisis and migration.”
He concluded by saying that “…Anyone who believes that their positions are right and just is never afraid of comparing arguments.”